We last left off where I made a starter, and named her Anna. Now Anna predictably gobbles up the fresh 50/50 mix I give her, and happily fluffers (because I’ve heard from nefarious sources that women never fart, they fluffer) around eight hours.
I borrowed a tablespoon from Anna to make a levain. I added her to 200 grams of 25°C (78°F) water, then mixed in 200 grams of the 50/50 flour. The rest of Anna went into the fridge. Let me explain why.
I’ve heard/read through many different Facebook Soughdough groups I belong to, and they all say that now the starter is mature, you don’t need to discard. Yes, while I relish the dirty looks my better half pretended she didn’t give to me while I was throwing the discard during the starter development, perhaps it’s better to just re-feed when necessary, remembering to always save some for the starter.
So, mixed together, left in a cool (18°C (65 5°F)) place overnight, and come back to this:
According to the Tartine book
“The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity”–Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
I dropped a little bit into the water:
All I could do was wait longer. I waited until the next morning. I have to mention that it was just about 5 AM, and I was off to work. It’s critical to get this on the go if I was looking to bake a sourdough loaf after I got home from work.
I thought it looked good, but the only way to know was the float test.
Perfect. The next step required you to mix 200 grams into 700 grams of 26°C (80°F) water. I was elated that we are finally going to see some action with this Sourdough saga. So I went ahead and mixed it together. After that, I read the next step.
“Let the dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes. Do not skip the resting period.”–Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
That wouldn’t work, because I was leaving for work in the next five or so minutes. So, I covered the bowl, and put it in the fridge. I have to say though, I chickened out trying to use it, it sat there for a couple days before I finally threw it down the toilet.
At least I saved a bit of the levain as starter. With this fresh fuckup under my belt, it was time to start over with the starter.
I think it’s important to mention that I changed the starter feeding time to the morning, before I go to work. My thinking was that way I could come home and make the bulk ferment, then bake the bread. I don’t know why I’m changing this up like this# but I figure, fuck it–worst case I skip a feed time and change the routine back.
Maybe if I set bread baking up as a routine, then I’ll be able to get more practice. I’ve seen numerous recipes to use starter discard, so perhaps finding a balance between refreshing Anna, and letting her have her fridge dodo, will be the way I go.
I need to also admit that I’m already looking ahead to the next project. My friend made some hot sauce through fermentation, and she sent me the instructions. It will be something I’d love to do with the boy. He and I adore hot sauce. There’s even the possibility of growing our own peppers for the hot sauce.
By this time, Anna was sixteen days old, and I still haven’t been able to bake a loaf. No matter, with a couple days off, I could go at it fresh. So, I added a tablespoon of Anna to 200 grams of 25°C (78°F) water, then mixed in 200 grams of the 50/50 flour. The rest of Anna went into the fridge. (See above for an explanation on why.)
After eight hours, it still wouldn’t float, so I let it go until 24 hours. It looks like this right now.
My house’s ambient temp is almost always around 20°C (68°) except at night, which is 18.5°C (65°F).
I know it’s a refrigerator thermometer, I’ll get myself another kind, if I learn how without it. (I have a habit of starting projects, abomdonjng them when the shiny wears off.)
So, now the question is, will a temperature as low as that retard the process for the levain? Would it be bad to do this? Will the dough be too “sour?”
It was late last night, and I panicked, and put the levain in the fridge at 3°C (37°F) for the night, I panicked and didn’t want it to over work…if that makes sense. It’s been out for the last 3 1/2 hours.
I have so much to learn, and one thing you should have guessed by now is, I always learn by screwing it up first. A lot of comments on the Sourdough Facebook group say I should not worry if the levain floats on water, to just proceed when I see the activity. As I finish typing/editing this, I am following the next steps to make a country loaf. That’s a post for another day.