Basic Sourdough


I’d been looking forward to this section of the BBA from the beginning.  Part of the fun was going to be the making of the sourdough starter from scratch.  I did run into a little problem when I first got to this section however.  The formula for the starter called for pumpernickel rye (a course grind) flour.  I went all over LA looking for someone who carried it, but no one seemed to.  I almost gave up and ordered online, but by that time I had a trip to Portland coming up, so I decided I’d go out to Bob’s Red Mill and just pick it up there.

The first step in making the mother starter was to create a seed culture.  This process took 4 days.

Day 1 – Pumpernickel and Pineapple Juice

For the first two days, instead of water, the instructions were to use pineapple juice to hydrate the flour.  This is to prevent the development of a bacteria that could inhibit the growth of the yeast later on in the process.


Day 2 – Pumpernickel Rye, Bread Flour, Pineapple Juice

Day 2 introduced regular bread flour to the mixture.  Days 3 and 4 introduced more bread flour and goes back to water to hydrate the flour.

Mother Starter

To create the mother starter, I added a portion of the seed culture to more flour and water and let it rise a few hours before putting it in the refrigerator over night for some slow fermentation.

Basic Sourdough rising

I do need to figure out the best way to use my mother starter as formulated in the book.  I only need a small portion to make the formula for the basic sourdough loaves…so I ended up with a lot of extra starter that wasn’t used.  I need to work on understanding the baker’s formula calculations better, so I can keep a smaller starter.

For this batch I decided to shape the sourdough into baguettes:

Proofing on the couche

Fresh out of the oven…on my makeshift cooling rack.

I’ve since made a batch shaped in boules.  I did like the bread, though it was still pretty dense both times.  I think my starter may still need a few more times refreshing to let the flavor develop a little more, but you could definitely tell it was a sourdough bread.

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