This is not a recovery blog

But it should be noted that I am in recovery.

Whole Wheat Sourdough (Part 1)

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This is my second foray into the land of sourdough bread baking. For the last few years I have mostly avoided buying bread from the store in favor of creating something with my own hands. At first the love was strong and passionate. I mixed my ingredients, kneaded away until my arms were sore, waited, kneaded some more, waited, and finally baked and smelled and tasted. As I grew wiser and my baking grew more mature I discovered the magic of the bread maker. Don’t get me wrong here. My passion did not falter. This was a period of learning how to manage my time and efforts. Since then I have found a happy medium. The bread maker does all the heavy lifting with all the tiring kneading while I get to shape the smooth dough and slip it into the hot oven myself. I’m sure my journey will lead me to amend my practice again. And quite possibly over and over into the future. But here I am – now – making a beautiful sourdough bread.

My first time raising a sourdough baby was two or three years ago. I followed the advice of the blogger because I love her. It turned out fine but for one reason or another I let my little pet die after only a couple of recipes. This time, things are more serious.

My new starter recipe is from the Wild Yeast Blog. Specifically this. The first few days of my new trial were very hot in our third story condo. I think the temperature reached about 86 degrees Fahrenheit and this bred some unpleasant smells in my pet. My starter smelled like rotten feet and vomit. I read of others who had smelled vinegar or alcohol scents. I couldn’t open my jar without gagging. Thankfully, I figured out that the pet needed to live in a cupboard on the bottom shelf. After five or six days I left it in the refrigerator for a few days before feeding again. It is now about two and a half weeks later and I have the healthiest starter possible. It bubbles up within 8 hours no problem. It smells like sourdough (go figure!) and I cannot wait to get it into some tasty bread!

The recipe I am following takes about three days. This may seem crazy but I have a lot of free time at the end of the week. I’m nothing short of pumped to have something relaxing to do like spend some time with flour. Here is the process in picture form:

Levain 1

Here I have shown my starter on the left in its lovely jar. I had just used some of it and fed it again so it isn’t looking too exciting. Next there is my jar of whole wheat flour and in the bowl is the levain.


Levain 2

The levain is a kind of pre-ferment. It will stay on my counter for about twelve hours before I mix it in to the final dough. It consists of starter, flour, and water. Overnight the flour will soak up the moisture and become smooth. The yeast and the flavor will develop. It’s an all around good time.


Levain 3

I’ve tucked it in for the night under a ever-so-slightly damp cloth napkin. Plastic wrap is another option but I am adamantly opposed to the idea.


Now, we wait.


To be continued…

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