Monday, July 16, 2012

Capturing the Monster!

It has always been my arch nemesis... The one thing I fear... The one that makes me move to the other side of the road when I see it coming... The one that sends me crawling under the covers.... That puts the chills up my spine and hair stand on edge!!!!!

What is this dark shadow that I fear so much? 

Homemade Sourdough starter... and its failure, that is.

Just the mention of it would turn my stomach. I have always pride myself on having a good thorough culinary back ground. Making sourdough starter was the one thing that I have always failed miserably at. And well... failure is scary, sucks and I tend to shy away from it.

And so here is how our dark history began...

It all started out on a rainy Tuesday many moons ago. (I am not sure if it was actually a Tuesday or if it was raining).

Anyways... It all started out on a rainy Tuesday many moons ago... I was thumbing threw recipes and feeling a bit ambitious. I decided I would make a batch of sourdough starter. After all, how hard could it be, right?

 I boisterously whistled through the kitchen enthusiastically mixing water flour and yeast into my large mason jar. Just and FYI... from what I have gathered the use of yeast in your starter has seemingly been dubbed as a cheaters move and is frowned upon among the more devote sourdough bread makers. I said PASH, to them and added it anyways. After all was mixed I sat back feeling quite fine! I fed my pet everyday! O how I loved her!

Every day I would check on her progress... loving and nurturing my little one. Every day I would take a good whiff and Nada! It didn't do a darn thing except collect dust on top of my counter before growing a pretty pastel pink mold. My love turned to disappointment. "BE GONE WITH YOU!" Disgusted and feeling a lot less ambitious, I threw it out. Years later a second attempt... the same outcome but instead of the pretty pink mold it was an ugly grey. Frustrated again I tossed it out and vowed not to attempt it again.

Then one day one of my girl friends talked about starting a batch. Her enthusiasm was contagious! I mean this girl thought she was going to make something great and she made me think I could too! So I figured what the hey, I will try it again!

I mixed my ingredients and there it sat on the counter for a week... doing NOTHING. BUT. SIT. It didn't mold into a pretty pink, nor an ugly grey and even worse it didnt sour either! I wondered, "What kind of pet are you"!? Again being the quitter that I was, I threw it out. "Starter, out with the trash you shall go", I yelled! (by the way, my girlfriends bread was delicious and that stung a bit.)

Well now that you are caught up to speed, let me just tell you what happened...

My husband and I were at church one Sunday and it just so happened that it was communion Sunday. He is Catholic and I am a Methodist but we both attend a Methodist church now. Apparently the Catholic churches my husband attended previously do wafers for communion and not bread.

Anyways my husband was really impressed with the bread at communion. I told him that it was probably homemade and I had several recipes at the house. He loves to cook/bake and he is very good at it. So Juan feeling as equally ambitious as I had been years ago set out to bake his first loaves of bread. They turned out wonderful! He wanted to master the art so he baked a few more and those also turned out delicious!

Feeling a bit big of himself he wanted to try something different. Juan and I discussed various bread options. He was rolling out the last of his french loaves when that small yearning for sourdough bread struck my heart. "Lets do it", he enthusiastically shouted out!

Well, wait a minute... I have been baking for years and I have had little to no success at making a sourdough starter and here he has baked four loaves of bread and... well .... Ha... hahaha..Ha!!! I smirked remembering the days of when I was just wee ambitious baker too....

Why not! Sometimes you just have to let them get bit before they learn not to play with the big dogs. "Sure babe, let me find you a recipe", I said.

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
 Everyday take away a cup of the mixture and add 1 cup or flour and 1 cup of water until it begins to bubble and sour.
Once it is bubbling and smelling real sour put it in the fridge and continue above instructions but only about once a week.
Remember to keep it covered.

We threw the ingredients into a bowl and mixed. We followed the instructions for about 3 days and then we noticed that we werent producing any more bubbles. (The dark shadow of failure loomed over head!)

My husband being the strong supportive man that he is encouraged us to push on!

I also did a little trouble shooting on the net and discovered that often when the starter goes flat its just hungry and you may actually need to feed it more than once a day in the beginning. I also read that you dont need to schedule feed it, you can feed it anytime of day! Another helpful tip is that unbleached flour has a better chance of starting out faster because it already holds some wild yeast which really gets that sour going!

This is a pic of our little monster growing well at about a week old. He made a full recovery after going flat and is now frothing and souring quite nicely.
The liquid on top is what they call hooch... Its good stuff. Just mix it back in when you do your feedings... or if you just want to spend time with your little frothing monster, give him a stir when you walk by.

Finally after about 5 days of letting him grow my husband took a few cups to make his first batch of sourdough bread. It was amazingly delicious! The bread sliced wonderfully, as you can see here, at my first attempt to make Frisco burgers from the homemade sourdough. They were heavenly if I do say so myself!

And that my friends is how my loving husband helped me make peace with the sourdough starter. :-)


  1. I don't know why so many people have trouble with sourdough starter. OK, so I cheat and use yeast, but I keep a pot going all winter. To hot for baking in the summer, but I've been known to keep a sourdough starter going for several years.

  2. and the burger looks as delicious as it should too. nothing better than sour dough for a burger.

  3. Bob, Its weird because once it worked it seemed so easy! I read that you can keep in going for years. Do you keep yours on the counter or put it in the fridge once it ferments good? Any other tips?

    Thanks Judy

    The griper, I agree. I prefer sourdough bread for burgers over regular burger buns any day!