Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sourdough part 3: baking preparations

After letting my sourdough starter sit for another 15 hours or so,
here is what it looks like:

Mixing it reveals streaks of differing colors
(subtle but still visible in the photo):

I nerved up to taste it,
and it doesn't taste as bad as I thought
(or as bad as it smells,
because frankly I don't think it smells that great),
but it tastes, well, like mild sourdough taste.

According to my sources, I *think* it is now mature enough to begin
to prepare for baking some bread.
I want to try a 100% rye bread recipe.
I've never baked all-rye before and it isn't like wheat.
(That I've learned partly from reading and partly from experience.)
Substituting rye for wheat, straight, equals a brick-
dense, tough, untasty.
So I need specifically rye-based recipes.
I've got one I want to try,
more or less based on Andrew Whitley's British book "Bread Matters."
I *hope* I've got the conversions right this time.

First I'm going to mix up what the recipe book calls a 'production starter',
a starter specifically for the bread recipe.
(The rest goes in the fridge, where I will pull it out and feed it to maintain it,
from time to time.)
I've mixed 1/4 cup of starter with 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons rye flour,
and 1 cup water, slightly warmed.
It looks very sloppy,
not like regular bread dough:

This measures 2 cups almost exactly.
Now I've put it back in its warm spot to double,
which should take somewhere from 12-24 hours.
I will just have to keep watching it.
(The timing is not optimal because I do have to teach tomorrow
and I can't be home all day to pop in as often as I'd like).
Also, I am using a glass container,
for four reasons.
1) A number of my sources have recommended glass
2) It has a plastic lid so if the pressure builds up and the lid pops off,
there won't be any glass exploding.
3) It was bigger than my plastic containers,
4) it had levels already marked off on the container.
So it should be easy to tell when 2 cups has risen to 4 cups.

Because the container is glass (and heavy)
I could not put it directly on the screen atop Mortimer's cage.
So I rigged up a cooling sheet as a support,
my nice Pampered Chef one with legs,
that would put the weight on the cage frame, which is much sturdier.
Let's hope all goes well with this stage...

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