Simple (cheater) Sourdough

posted in: Bread, Sourdough | 8

So the reason I labeled this my cheater sourdough is because I also used a tiny bit of store bought yeast to aid in the leavening process.  I am currently on my 4th starter, each one has suffered its own pitiful death.

Starter Number One
I hate to admit this, but I got really into bread baking because one of my roommates piqued an interest in it. The first loaf she made was so dense, and was made with 1/2 whole wheat flour. At the time, I was a hater of all things healthy in the form of carbs (vegetables were cool though). Sourdough has always been my favorite genre of bread in terms of taste- and her bread just wouldn’t do. And thus the birth of  my first white sourdough starter. It became my baby, so much love and studying went into that little bubbling tupperware. It produced decent loaves but nothing quite as sour as I was hoping, nothing to blog about. Summer approached and our lease was over, so it was time to pack up and move, but moving dates collided with exam schedules and moving day became a hectic mess where we were moving out the same day the new tenants were moving in. A recipe for disaster to say the least. After multiple full van trips, we came back for the final load. And to my HORROR one of the girls mothers was so anxious to start cleaning she had the audacity to assume my starter was trash and throw it away! Without even consulting with anyone! I will never forget you, you blond idiot.

Starter Number Two
This poor thing was but a mere 2 weeks old when I asked my mother to babysit it for 2 weeks while I was on a climbing trip in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. I left incredibly detailed instructions for daily care. I say incredibly detailed with a hint of sarcasm, as all I had asked was to maintain a 50% hydration starter. But my mother, I don’t even know what she did, some how managed to kill it with only flour and no water and threw it away before I even returned. May you Rest in Peace.

Starter Number Three
I started this one during the summer months and even totted it along with me to sleep away camp, since I had discovered the hard way that nobody was to be trusted! This starter flourished like I couldn’t imagine. I assume it had something to do with the warm, humid summer days. On one occasion it was so active after a feeding it tripled in size and oozed out of its container and onto a lot of my clothing. Over the summer I produced a ton of great sourdough for my campers and co workers to enjoy. And that was without any real measuring supplies, all  by touch and taste!  After the summer, my starter ended up at my boyfriends apartment(he had an abundance of flour) and during a rigorous kitchen cleaning the bowl with the starter got placed on top of the toaster oven and was forgotten. That is until the toaster was used the next day and the plastic melted to the toaster and the starter cooked and died a terrible painful death. This still makes me sad, because it was my best starter yet.

Starter Number Four
After the third starter death I was hesitant to start a new one, and was still grieving. But it was time to move on. I’ve had my current starter since mid November. It has a nice acidic aroma but doesn’t quite have the rising power of the previous starter.  Hence the cheatage.

Ingredients: (Yields One Loaf)

3 1/2 cups Bread Flour (or Unbleached White Flour)
1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
2 tsp salt (or a little less)
2 Tbs fed White Starter
2 1/4 cups Warm Water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. IF necessary you may add up to 1/4 cup more water. This is a wet and sticky no-knead dough.  Cover and let rise overnight (12-18 hours) Lightly flour a counter top and dump contents of the bowl out, you may need to use a rubber spatula to aid in this process. Wash bowl and spray with oil. Fold dough gently onto itself a few times and place into oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for another 1-2 hours. Before you bake bread decide if you want a flatter loaf or a round loaf, if you want a round loaf you need to bake it in an oven safe container, mine is ceramic. It also must have a fitted lid, or this can be made over a baking stone.  Oven and stone or bakeware must be preheated to 450F for at least 30 minutes for best results. Bake bread  for 20 minutes with lid on and 10-15 or until golden brown without lid.

Cool and serve.


8 Responses

  1. I really salute your determination and persistence to make this sourdough starter even after so many failures! I still haven’t tried mine yet. ;)

  2. Thx for the information, and the website definitely looks wonderful.

    • Hey thanks! I tried! :P

    • I started this rofebe reading through all the comments. I allowed my starter to rise for about 26 hours (I’m awful when it comes to timing these things). It had definitely collapsed by the time I mixed it into the dough. However, though I was a little worried about what might have been sluggish rising during the fermentation, during the final proofing it rose beautifully and my crumb (see description below) was light and airy. It’s a wet dough and I don’t have a stand mixer, so I kneaded for probably 20 minutes to build up the gluten. I’m trying to work on my kneading and my feel for the dough, so it was a pleasure. Now, the loaf is ugly mostly because the crust is disappointingly soft (this is my first soft loaf per your comments on my last comment, I really need to work on the steam), but the crumb is my best yet! There are tons of beautiful, uneven air pockets. And the flavor is really nice. Question: I think maybe I need to buy a lame because I’m not getting the bursting at the sites of the scoring that I see you (and others) do. I see some extrusion near the base of my loaves, so the dough is looking for someplace to expand. Off the top of your head, are there other reasons why I might be having problems with this lack of bursting? (and is there a technical term for bursting/eruption?) Thanks again for a lovely recipe!

      • paige

        I suggest you preheat your oven to its highest setting (500F for me) and score your loaves right before you place them in the oven. As soon as you put your loaves in the oven lower the temperature to 450F, this will help with the initial “burst”, and also, within the first few minutes of baking, Pour some water on the bottom of your oven to create steam which will also help with the crust and the “burst”! Hope this helps!

  3. Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!

    • Netrali

      Hey Paige, isn’t sourdough fantastic? I’ve had my starter for nearly a year now, and every loaf just gets better and better. I make sourdough pizza bases every week and I just can’t have any other pizza anymore.Did you name yours? Mine’s called Steve

  4. Arthur

    You can freeze some of your starter as a backup. You should dry by smearing parchment or wax paper first. Then next time if there is an accident, you can quickly revive your frozen starter and not have to start from scratch. Happy baking.

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