27 January 2011

Taming the wild yeast

I've got a new creature in the kitchen that I'm caring for these days. It's a sourdough that I cultivated from the naturally occurring yeasts which are found on organic wheat berries. I've tried a few different starters over the years, but they either failed to start or I neglected them beyond all recovery. Not long ago, I found an article about starting a wild yeast sourdough using pineapple juice. It just so happened that in the fridge I had a jar of pineapple juice from a can of pineapple pieces I'd used for something else and of course, I always have fresh-ground organic hard wheat available (thanks to this). Apparently, the acidity of the juice causes the pH to be just right for the wild yeasts to grow without being overrun by bacteria. It works.

Since my sourdough is only a baby yet, I've been making bread with unbleached flour. My starter is 100% whole wheat so the loaves are 25% whole wheat/75% white. I use a recipe I found here, and it is wonderful. It is a no-knead/ dutch oven recipe and it has an interesting twist to the dutch oven technique. Instead of preheating the pot and then putting the proofed dough in, it suggests proofing the dough in the pot and placing it in a cold oven with no preheating. The next time I try that (when I recover from the clean-up of my first attempt) I will use shortening and cornmeal, rather than just some flour as I have always done. Meanwhile, until I acquire some Crisco (I never thought I'd ever say that) I will continue braving the hot oven and pot technique that has always worked so well. 

When I work up the courage, I will try baking Desem bread, from the Laurel's Bread Book, which I  attempted a long time ago and hadn't thought I'd try again, until I read this post. First though, I'm going to let my sourdough grow up.

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