Saturday, July 18, 2009

a good starter...


as my bacon cures and my tomatoes ripen in preparation for the BLT Challenge...my attention now turns to naturally leavened bread. I've been lucky to work with sourdough starter virtually every day for the past 20 years...when people ask me: "what do you do to keep yours going?" I say, "Use it!" Use it as often as you can and it will reward you with fluffy pancakes, tasty bread, awsome waffles...it's almost endless! Now, mind you, it wasn't always that easy for me, either. I started working with sourdough in my first days learning to bake, but I always relied on the starter that was already there. When I left that kitchen, I took a little of that starter with me, and so it went...as I moved jobs, my little starter friend came with me and everything was great. Until I decided to open a bakery of my own in an old paper making studio. We had to build the kitchen from scratch and when it was time to move in and start making bread, well, the starter I had didn't like it there so much. You see, it's alive, and if it doesn't like where it's living, well, there is going to be hell to pay! In other words, my little friend slowly died...nothing I did seemed to save it and I was not at all sure how to start over until one fateful day, I saw someone make a starter using a red cabbage leaf on TV (of all places!)...the next day when a friend showed up with red cabbage from his garden, I knew fate had intervened...the secret,( or rather the yeast), was unlocked and, as you can see, our 'baby' is doing just fine!
For the starter and bread formula visit our recipe blog!

13 comments:

Baked Alaska said...

I'm headed over to the recipe blog right now. I've heard of making a starter with grapes, but never with a cabbage leaf. Interesting. Your starter does look extremely happy!

ruhlman said...

why is it in a blender?

Carri said...

That's actually an eight cup measure...looks alot like a blender, it's true!

Lorrie said...

I almost peed my pants when I saw the picture! It is scene straight out of Kitchen Confidential. I heard the refrain of "...feed the bitch!" You have very happy starter, indeed! Now, I just wish I could taste it.

Carri said...

oh, Lorrie, you are so right, the jokes around here are endless, the one rule is they stay in the posiive, cause no one messes with our 'Baby'!

mirinblue said...

Thank God Ruhlman commented on it being in a blender! When I looked at the pic, I thought it was a giant factory basin and that it was sitting on a parquet floor! (Don't ask...) I thought I was looking at a very, very healthy starter, indeed!

Glad to know it was in a measuring cup...4 feet of oozing, flowing starter is the stuff of nightmares.

Sam said...

@mirinblue, HA! I thought the same thing :)

Anonymous said...

wow. i just took an alaskan from a yurt loving pal out if the fridge. 4 days in and it's just "eeking" along. your started looks mind numbingly rad!

-rally

veron said...

Oh heavens! I am inspired to try again.

Mimi said...

My starter doesn't come out to play every day so it isn't as happy as yours.

I'm happy I found your blog. I always wondered how someone would use sourdough in a commercial kitchen. It just has to be monstrous is all! Cool!

chef4cook said...

I was turned on to your blog via ruhlman.com. I'll have to try the starter and see how it goes for me.

deana sidney said...

i left the leaves in ( i had read ruelman first) and they turned the whole mess lavender after 36 hours and 2 additions of flour and water. it seemed to be going well but then it sort of stopped bubbling and went flat...

any ideas?

Voltaire said...

Thanks so much for this post! I followed your instructions and have a wonderful starter set to go. Say, how long should the first rising of sourdough bread take?