It’s About Time: Sour Dough and my learning curve

I was thrilled to get my hands on a sour dough starter at the June Swap I went to. I was SO SO excited. It came with directions about feeding it and also what to do to grow it. I skimmed the directions but didn’t really acknowledge them; I was just so so excited to get the starter!Loaf #2 - sour dough breadHome I went. I taped the instructions for feeding and growing on the kitchen cupboard  Since I don’t seem to have any memory these days I taped another piece of paper next to it so I would remember which days to feed it until I was ready to use it.

My "attempt" at pancakes - they were very rubbery

My “attempt” at pancakes – they were very rubbery

I have read a few things on line about sour dough starter, and one thing that I did remember (some things stick I guess) is that you want to place your jar in a bowl or on a plate in case your started grows and expands so much that it overflows your jar.  You basically want something to catch it if it overflows or you will end up with a mess that is hard to clean up because it dries up so hard it will be like chipping away concrete!

The bubbling action blew the top (that was secured with a rubber band) right off the top of the jar! Glad I had that plate under it.

The bubbling action blew the top (that was secured with a rubber band) right off the top of the jar! Glad I had that plate under it.

I followed the instructions that came with my starter for growing it to get ready to use if for a loaf of bread. I used the basic no-knead method and just used 1 cup of sour dough starter and then as much water as I needed for the no-knead bread recipe. The only other thing I altered was no adding yeast (because the sour dough does that work now). The next day I kneaded my bread enough to pull it together. I formed it into a loaf and put it in an oiled pampered chef loaf pan to rise. It took several hours to rise, but it was beautiful.

I looked at a few different instructions on line for baking it. I used Nancy’s instructions and they seemed to work well. The loaf turned out great, but I had a bit of a shock when I toasted my first piece and took a bite. It was sweet! What?!

It didn’t take me long to figure it out. My instructions where to feed my starter with 1T of sugar and 2T flour every other day. Then to grow the starter it said to add 1 cup sugar and 2 cup flour.  I didn’t even think about the sugar. I understand the start feeds on it, but didn’t give a moments thought to the sweetness it would add to the bread. Hmmmm. I would rather have a yeasty, more sour taste to the bread than sweet. So, I went back to Nancy, Joanna, and a few others spots where I have seen information about getting your own sour dough starter going. I just didn’t remember reading things about adding sugar to get a start going.

I worked at the starter by reducing the sugar. It took a few loaves to get the sweetness out, but it worked.

All along, I was using the same jar to feed the starter and pull from. After my last successful, yeasty loaf I decided to transfer the starter to a new clean jar and start feeding it again. Things went wrong and a few days alter when I went to feed it again, it had turned black and nasty looking. That was the end of it. Out the door it went. Dang it.

I have yet to begin my own starter. I mixed up a batch of no-knead bread and stashed it in the oven for an overnight of bubbling. Then the flu hit our home and that is where it still is. Maybe I can feed that with some flour and water and see what happens! My husband has been under the weather now for over 11 days. I held off as long as I could, but it finally got me. I am on day 3. Maybe I will take a peek at the bread and see what it looks like when I get out of bed again. (I had this post already written up, just added this last paragraph in a momentary energy surge. Now, back to bed!)

Do you use a sourdough starter to make your bread?

Sincerely, Emily

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2 Responses to It’s About Time: Sour Dough and my learning curve

  1. Nancy says:

    Emily, hope you are feeling better! Don’t give up on your starter. It took me a long time to get a decent one, but it’s worth the work. The bread is so incredibly delicious.

  2. Joanna says:

    Are you OK with this bread making thing ? Maybe wait till the flu is over and do email me if you need some help. I have never come across feeding large quantities of straight sugar to a starter for maintenance purposes. I hope you feel much better soon and thank you so much for your card xx

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