Lots of work in the day job, but I have been working with the new starter too, and had a tremendous success. Believe it or not, I made the best homemade loaf ever, and without “cheating” by adding a little commercial yeast. Think the oven spring would have been even higher, if I had shaped the loaf more professionally (that’s hard to do with these small, 2-load batches for some reason).
My bread is almost up to the quality of the professional stuff I had recently. It’s quite light, and has that strong sourdough tang.
To sum up:
- Bought a dehydrated San Francisco sourdough starter.
- Following the directions to activate it, trying two methods: cleaning the bowl after each feeding and leaving it as is through this activation period. The “clean” method worked better.
- Feed the starter twice a day with distilled water and unbleached white flour.
- Made a decent loaf during the activation period by cheating with a little commercial yeast.
- Clean the bowl and utensils with a hot water and mild bleach solution rinse, followed by a thorough hot water rinse.
- Right now, am experimenting with just washing the bowl out once a day. In two days, the starter seems to be doing well.
- I have not yet refrigerated the starter. It is, however, November in the Northeast. Don’t know how well that will work in warmer weather.
- I use a Pyrex bowl for the starter and keep it loosely covered with the bowl’s lid. I tighten down the lid when vacuuming or doing anything else that spreads dust up in the air, but it is important to undo the lid again; even in just 30 minutes, the lid is slightly puffed up and there is a slight rush of gas when you open it up.
- Bread dough rises well when its bowl is set on a thickly rolled towel or sheet on a hot water radiator.
Next up: why, bagels, of course. And for the blog, will try to write down some of these recipes.