Ever since I started my experiements in making bread, I realised each time, that there is something missing in texture. Ofcourse I did keep making whole wheat multigrain breads which made them denser in texture. And I used ready bakers yeast. The fermentation was quick and I was happy about it fermenting well, and baking well. Again, it was not the artisan breads I have had in Europe. This is when I decided I will work on the starter myself and make wild yeast. This post is about my first ever candid experiement and inspired from the book Tartine Bread. If it fails along the way, i will post about it as well. But I know I am not going to give up, the book being my saviour.
So enjoy my truthful candid experiement with making the bread starter. After which I plan to make the classic country dough white bread using this starter | wild yeast.
How is a culture created: A culture is created by combining flour and water and the microorganisms that are present in the flour, in combination with the air and my own hand. So yes I use my hands to mix my culture and feed it as well.
combined 50% flour nd 50% wheat flour (my case multigrain i think it should be ok (smile)
placed luke warm water in a bowl and added some 5050 flour into the water to make a batter of thick consistency with out any lumps. and I did not measure the water and flour, just used my judgement. Its a starter afterall and my first experiement with it.
The culture is mixed now and will sit covered for 2 to 3 days until bubbles have formed in and around the sides and surface Once this step is crossed, I will begin feeding the culture to mature the starter.
In less than 24 hours, I have begun to see bubbles/ air pockets developing. This means I am on my way in another day to feed the starter.
Batter after feed 1 So, now I have done my first feed, the smell was a little acidic. The process was to discard 80% of the original culture and then mix an equal amount of 5050 flour and luke warm water as we did in the first step. Again I did not measure, but just used my judgement to make a thick batter like before and it reached the same level in the bowl. The consistency of the batter before the feed felt fluffy when i mixed it with my hands. So I am thinking the culture is working its way into a starter. Do you notice in the above picture that there are a few air pockets, that makes me feel good to know that its going to bubble more.
After the second feed I noticed the crust above. I pushed it aside to show you the difference. I have now fed the culture three times and now I finally see a rise in the batter. How lovely to see that the culture is working its way, in the way it should. So how did I figure out that it is rising. I marked a point of the bowl to see if the batter would rise to that level, and it did in just a matter of few hours. I fed it today morning - the 5th day almost. Now I think in another day I should be ready to use my starter. Sunday could now be the baking day with this starter. Before which, saturday I will have to make the natural leaven for the bread. Weekend here I come...Please do join me in my prayers :).
Showing a colored picture of the rising of the bread starter
the above - the leaven for the bread has been set to rise. So what is the leaven? It is all but 1 tablespoon of starter and 200 grams of 5050 flour in 200 grams of 80F water. I set it to rise the night before i was to bake the bread and ....
the leaven did rise the next morning, I was relieved. my her beats rose and was super happy that I was on my way to make a rustic country bread. The next step is the make the dough with the leaven
The above is the dough that is mixed with the leaven. I used 1000grams of flour to 750 grams of water along with this leaven and what did I miss to do after this, take pictures of the first rise. I will let the boko explain the science behind (the no knead). The rise is for 3 hours. In those three hours all i did was to turn the dough that was sitting in the bowl every half hour.
Removed the dough after 3 hours from the container and on to the surface, dusted with flour, did a series of turns and allowed it to rest and rise for another half hour - this was the second rise. After which it got transfered into a basket to rise for another two hours - this was the third rise.
The dough then got transfered into baking pans; the book told me to use a dutch oven. Just wish i had. But made sure i created enough steam in the oven by placing water in the bottom tray for nearly 30 minutes, then set the dough to bake in the oven in the steam. The steam helped the dough first rise and bake then slowly brown. If the steam wasn't there then the bread would have got browed faster and it could have been under baked as well. For this reason a dutch oven helps. this is something i am willing to buy, but not available in india. (sad)
so i got two loafs from the 1000 grams of flour i used. one i shaped in a cake pan and the other in a loaf pan.
and what i got after cooling, was a beautifully aired and crusted bread. Super duper delicious, just like the ones i had in europe and the restaurants and in artisan bakeries in the US.
and i did a perfect justice to it, by savoring it with olive oil and red wine vinaigrette.
So my feelings are elated, i am so happy to have baked a bread by cultivating wild starter at home, I am confident and I know now the science that goes into baking a bread. with no additives, preservatives , no nothing, just plain old fashioned bread. Thanks to Tartine Bread for the beautiful book with detailed science into baking.