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Meet my boyfriend…er…starter? Luc.

January 23, 2010

OK so earlier this week I promised you all a story about my sourdough. And I will give you one. But first, let me introduce you to a new person in my life. He’s my main squeeze.  He needs words of encouragement, and a place where he can live. He needs constant attention to be happy, but if I do forget him for a little while, he’s still there, waiting for me to rekindle the romance. He takes up my time, he needs to be fed, and watered. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present:

Luc. Not Luke. "Lyooook."

For the proper pronunciation of his name, please see the film “French Kiss.” I’ll wait. Go ahead. And make sure you’ve got a bottle of wine, cuz you’ll want one as soon as you turn it on. Need to go get one? That’s ok. I’ll still be here. Oh, and pick up some cheese too. You’ll want the cheese.

OK. Seen the movie? Laughed at Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan traipsing through the most beautiful parts of France? Learned how to properly pronounce Luc’s name? Good. Now. Luc, as you may or may not have surmised, is not an actual man. I know, I know, it’s shocking, but what can I say? Baked goods have now completely taken the place of men in my life.

Luc is my sourdough starter, which I …uh… started? the week I got home from Christmas vacation. For those of you who don’t know about sourdough, let me explain right quick. Sourdough, true traditional sourdough, is actually made from sour. dough. Shocking, I know, but there you have it. Mysteries revealed.

Basically you take some flour, mix it with some water, and allow it to ferment on top of the fridge, feeding it with fresh water and flour daily until it’s “ripe.” The dough then takes the yeast from the air (this is kinda gross, but also incredibly cool) and then the little yeast fairies consume the flour and express bubbles. Sometimes there’s a layer of liquid on the top – this isn’t anything to worry about, it’s just a byproduct of the fermenting process.

See?

Sourdough, once the yeasts have been cultured, is surprisingly resistant to bacteria and other types of spoilage, so for those of you thinking “Eewwwww rotten flour?!” don’t worry – unless there’s a pinkish tinge to the dough, you can’t really go wrong. I think. Probably. 🙂

Anyways, the bubbles in the sourdough release into the bread, which is what causes the “leavening” process that makes bread rise. Modern technology means we can use yeast from a packet to accomplish this task, but the sourdough also gives bread that pungent taste typically associated with it.

It’s apparently traditional to name your sourdough starter, so I figured since it was taking so much of my time and energy (and hope and trust), I decided my starter was a qualified stand-in for a boyfriend, so I chose the name Luc. Because clearly, in my dreams, my soulmate is a Frenchman. Heh.

So anyways, using the Kitchn’s recipe, I made my little Luc, set him on the fridge to grow, and ripen, until he smelled like concentrated sourdough. Last Sunday (I started him on a Monday) he was officially open for business, so using the beginner’s sourdough loaf recipe following the Kitchn’s starter recipe, I set off on a breadmaking adventure.

Dude. Did you know? Breadmaking takes time. Like hours. This recipe, which was the “easy basic beginner’s” recipe, had to rise for a total of 4 hours, separated by 10 minutes worth of kneading and cajoling! That is a lot of time.

But anyways, back to the bread. I started with half the recipe, since I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, or how long the final product would last (I didn’t want to end up with an extra loaf of stale bread, y’see). So I mixed the dough together, kneaded the hooey out of it on the granite countertop, then set it in a bowl to rise.

Bowl. Dough. Rise.

I covered it with one of the white flour sacks Rob gave me for my birthday (yesssss!), let it rise (for two and a half hours), then threw it back on the counter for a second beating, then threw it in my silicone loaf pan. To rise. Again.

Ready to rise! Again.

After two more hours, it looked like this:

Puffy!

You can see it already, but one of my favorite parts about making this bread was getting to slash the top three times. (Is it sad that I love playing with knives?)

SLASH! SLASH! SLASH!

Aaaaaaaahahahaha! Oh right. It’s just bread. …anyways…

Popped the sucker in the oven (with boiling water – really bizarre, but made a cool crust) and let it bake!

The results?

Beautiful!

Crusty, but not so tough that you can’t bite through it (thank YOU, pan of boiling water!), with a light sourdough flavor. Just about perfect!

Corner view.

Side view.

The one benefit of having 18 hours of sitting-around-waiting-for-bread-to-rise time was that I had time to make fresh butter to put on it.

Mmmmm! I keep it in my butter bell - thanks, Amanda!

Deeeeeeeeeeeelish. So there you have it, people. Sourdough bread, from start(er) to finish.

Sidenote: Melissa yelled at me for not posting about my recipe failures enough (because there are plenty), so I’m posting about one now. I have, once again, ruined a batch of fudge. I don’t know what the problem is – this time, at least, I didn’t try to make maple creams again (though Rob did give me a new tub of syrup – I’m saving it for myself, sorry), but I did try to make penuche. Jeepers. I don’t know WHAT I’m doing wrong – I bought a new thermometer and everything, but for some reason, I just can. not. make. fudge! This stuff turned out caramel. Again. ??? Even with a new thermometer! Anyways, if anyone has any fudgemaking advice, please leave it below – I followed the instructions to the letter and still ended up with a great sticky mess.

Happy Saturday!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    January 23, 2010 4:07 pm

    You’ve inspired me to try sourdough again. I made a starter, like, months ago, and it never really worked out – the yeast just wasn’t growing. But I love me some good sourdough bread.

    • lisam permalink
      January 24, 2010 12:57 am

      Excellent! If you’re trying again, the things I’ve read online about getting yeast to start are things like using spring or distilled water (no chlorine, which tends to kill the good bacteria with the bad), putting a small sprinkling of active yeast in (a cheat, but it’ll get things moving), and making sure your heat is well regulated. Mine started bubbling after 24 full hours, and I have a pretty small kitchen (i.e. all the other things in the air from any other things I’ve baked/cooked definitely helped). Alternatively, there’s a recipe floating around the blogosphere based on old pineapple juice – that might help (the sugars give the bacteria/yeast more to munch on). Let me know how it goes if you do decide to try again!

  2. Melissa lambert permalink
    January 23, 2010 8:25 pm

    Your bread and butter look amazing. And kudos for posting your fudge failure. My mom used to e a fudge guru, so I’ll ask her for tips.

    • lisam permalink
      January 24, 2010 12:55 am

      PLEASE do – I can use all the help I can get! And I’d bring you some bread…but honestly it doesn’t taste very good if it’s not made the day-of. Butter, however, is easily gifted. 🙂

  3. Heather permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:03 pm

    Hm, this is really interesting, since I’ve started to get into sourdough too. I found a recipe, but apparently this is some sort of fake sourdough, because I used yeast to start it, and each batch needs more yeast. I really like it, though. I’ve tried tweaking the recipe and using wheat flour instead, since that’s healthier than processed white flour. It was good but didn’t rise very much, so it’s a little dense. I’m thinking maybe a mixture of the two?

    • lisam permalink
      January 24, 2010 12:54 am

      How cool! Yeah – I want to try whole wheat myself, but honestly my baking skills are still so amateur I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter for my first try. Next time will probably be a combo (since the starter’s already got white flour in it). Maybe if you do make a mixture, you could send me some reviews/pictures?

      • hthomson permalink
        January 25, 2010 12:31 am

        I’ll try. I have to be more diligent about writing down how much of each I use so that I can find that perfect mixture.

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