Sunday, April 27, 2014

Days 6 & 7 - Sourdough Tang!

Day 6

At lunch on Friday I moved my sourdough starter culture to an upper cabinet, turned the light on below, and added a thermometer to track the temperature. When I moved it, the house was at 68 degrees since it was a sunny day.  But at night the house could get down to 64 degrees before the furnace would kick on and I wanted my starter to be warmer than that, and the top of the fridge certainly wasn't warm. By the end of lunch (about an hour later), the temperature in the cupboard was already at 70 degrees.
After about an hour in the cupboard with the light on, up 2 degrees!
I figured someone would accidentally turn the light switch off, so I came up with a classy and sophisticated solution I hoped would prevent that. I taped the switch in the 'on' position and added a piece of tape with a quick reminder written on it, "Leave on -- life support switch".
My makeshift notice, "Leave on -- life support switch"
Husband Jeff came home in the afternoon and sent me a text, "life support switch?" He later said he figured it was for my sourdough starter in some way, but he had no idea it was in the cupboard.

After sitting in the cupboard for the afternoon and evening, I checked on my starter when it was time to feed it and found the temperature at 72.  Not as warm as the yeast would probably prefer, but much better than the mid 60s like it would be in our house otherwise.
A balmy 72 degrees.  The starter is hanging out next to wheat bran on the left and salted dried edamame behind it.
There wasn't a whole lot of activity, the same little bit of bubbles on the top like the last couple of days. If you remember, it went from a pretty stiff dough the night before when I first fed it the proper ratios and relaxed into what you see here by the next night.  I guess I was adding too much water.  Apparently it needs time to hydrate properly since this ended up like really thick pancake batter, which I was trying to achieve right away.  I am always in a hurry. 
Lightly bubbly.
The most glorious thing was the smell!  It had the pleasant tangy scent you would expect from sourdough bread!  I had husband Jeff come over to confirm, and he agreed it smelled like real sourdough.  So exciting! 
Back to stiff dough again.

I followed the same precise procedure as the night before, dump out the extra starter until you get to 113 grams of starter, add 113 grams of flour and 113 grams of warm water.

With a warmer spot for it to hang out now, I'm really hoping there will be at least some noticeable activity.

Day 7

A bit of bubbling action on the side, but not a lot and nothing on top.  The smell seems milder, less like sourdough and more like plain flour and water.  Bland and boring. 
More bubbles than the last few days, but still not the amount of progress I'd like to see.
The temperatures in the spawning cupboard have been warm since I've been roasting and baking in the oven below for the last couple of days, hanging around 75 degrees during the day.  I was hoping to see more going on than this. 

It's definitely discouraging, not sure how much longer I want to keep this up if I'm not really getting anywhere. I think I've got the sourdough part down, so I might start over with a new sourdough starter but with commercial yeast since I'm failing with the wild yeast.  I don't really want to give up, but I have no idea if I'm just wasting my time or if I should keep going.  I read you can add a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar to lower the pH and kick start the yeast a bit.  I don't know if I want to mess with it if things are going fine enough.  I'd prefer to give it a little boost with some rye flour, but we didn't find any at Trader Joe's over the weekend.  I'm going to need to make a quick stop at the grocery store sometime during the week for some fresh items we need next weekend, so maybe mid-week I'll head to a full grocery store that hopefully has rye flour.  Maybe that will be my next move and if that doesn't get me any further, I'll add some apple cider vinegar. 

Wanna Chat?

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