Friday, March 7, 2008

Follow the Sourdough - Day 1: Can you say Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis?

I'm making sourdough bread, and I thought that some of you would like to follow along in real time. So, I will be doing a multiple-day, multiple-post sourdough bread recipe. I'm in the process of filming a sourdough video recipe for About, which will be covered in one 3 minute clip, but for you food wishers (that's what I call you behind your backs), I thought a clip-by-clip presentation would be more fun and informative.

Here is day one's step; starting the "starter." As you'll see, it is very basic, and requires only bread flour and water. The magic of sourdough is this "starter," with is basically a living, fermented batter that is made possible from the reaction between wild yeast in the air and Lactobacillus bacteria. These two live in symbiotic bliss and prevent any other microorganisms from growing in the starter. Good luck and stay tuned for the next video. Enjoy!

Tip: Use an unbleached bread flour for best results



27 comments:

Jeff said...

Nice.

Sourdough to the people! I bake lots of crusty artisony bread, but this will be my first sourdough using my own starter. I've heard that starters can be fussy(like my wife)-will you be giving some tips on keeping them happy?

Chef John said...

"tips on keeping them happy?"
Wifes or starters?

Anonymous said...

Shaking things up a bit with that ominous sounding intro are you? Whatever floats your boat. Anyway, this will be fun even if I do have to dash off to the store now for bread flour. Glad you are doing this on a Friday!
April

Anonymous said...

Old Grandpa Sam, our family patriarch and a baker from the old country, (who could be haunting your kitchen & flat, if you know what I mean) didn't give away too much information, but he once told me the best flour to use when making bread was "old" flour. Then again, at this rate, your starter may take years!

Anonymous said...

How exciting! I just made a sourdough starter a few days ago. I cant wait for the next step video so I can join this little party!

Oh, please to tell.... how do I keep my starter happy?

CJ

Chef John said...

it's the starters job to keep you happy. you'll see.

tonic said...

Thanks Chef John! I've always wanted to make sourdough bread but starters seemed so daunting! I'm definitely following along with you!

PrimeBrit said...

I would follow along, but I have to go out for dinner. I would rather be sticking pins in my eyeballs though. Having said that, I wouldn't be able to see the next step of your bread making! It's a bit exciting, waiting for the next section. Maybe I should be getting out more come to think of it!

Anonymous said...

yay the dough recipe I asked for :3

Chef John said...

Yes, "old" flour would have more yeast present, I would think. Now about those ghosts...

Connie said...

I have been making almost no knead bread, it is on my blog. I am going to go in right now and start the starter and go along with you.

orgprepdaily said...

Isn't there some trick, like-fast-rising strain of sourdough? I was reading somewhere that the discovery of the proper bacteria strain made the miserable life of french dough-kneeding bakery boys much less miserable.

Also, here in Florida the Publix supermarket sourdough baguettes tend to be decent (even though their sourdough bread is sub-par) and I don't believe the supermarket-chain stuff is using natural starter...Is there a difference between the natural and the industrial sourdough starter?

Chef John said...

Haven't heard of any trick starters. I've never bought a starter and never would. The fun is the science experiment aspect of the process. The waiting is part of the fun, and why it tastes so good if it works.

hkfreak said...

Can you help me keep my wife happy? How about my dog?

Chef John said...

Keep her well fed, give her lots of attention, and take her for a long walk every day. I don't have any advice about the dog.

Karol said...

In my opinion Sourdough Bread is the best tasting bread one can get. In Poland, we also have an amazing soup based on sourdough and 'kielbasa', called Zurek (or Zur). The base of the soup is basicly like the base for that bread, just more water (and a piece of rye bread to aid the process). The problem with SD is that it depands greatly on the environment it's made in, i.e. the bacterial flora present there. I know there's plenty of cute lil dough-souring critters in many parts of middle eastern and southern Europe. American friend of mine mentioned to me that there must be plenty in SF, 'cause they make delicious SD bread there. However, when we tried to make sourdough in south-western germany, we got a foul smelling substance each time. We kept trying but each time some other bacteria took over our mixture - that was probably also because the process was too slow. My advice is to try aiding it by adding a piece of a nice organic rye bread to the mix. Good luck to all. And all Thanks to You Chef for all the good work You do :) Cheers!

c. said...

why do you have to toss 1/2 each day until ready to make sponge for bread?
why can't you just feed it each day with out tossing 1/2 of it?
How to you feed it once you refirgate it till making the next batch of bread?
hope you can help me out here.

Chef John said...

please check comments on the next few days of posts. These issues were discussed.

Anonymous said...

I already have a nice mature starter I have been using for various sourdough recipes. Could you please tell me how much starter (approx.) you use in your bread recipe. It looks like 1 or 2 cups...but I can't find any mention of the amount of starter you use. I really want to try your bread recipe, but will wait til I hear how much starter to use! Thanks!

Chef John said...

2 cups is fine

Lourdes said...

i live in GA and my family in Miami, we all started the starter last Tuesday and are very excited! We caan't wait to see who has the best sourdouge bread. Thank for step by step videos which made it easy for us to follow everyday (long distance).

Tyra said...

I just posted a recipe for sourdough waffles on my food blog. I had so many questions about making a starter that I had to go searching for a great tutorial. I'm featuring your "Follow the Sourdough" series tomorrow on my blog, at domessticated.com. Thank you for making the process seem approachable. I'm lucky to have been given a beautiful and healthy start, but for those not as lucky, I appreciate your straightforward tutorials.

marie said...

Starting off this challenge in a few days, just wondering, when you throw 1/2 of it out can it be used in some way other then be just waste? pancakes? crumpets? The answer is probably hiding in a video or comment already but it might take me a few days.

Sindy said...

I'm from Puerto Rico and I can't find unbleached flour anywhere. Would I have the same results with bleached flour???Sindy

DevilsAdvocate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DevilsAdvocate said...

Hi CJ!

I too live in the SF area (Alameda) and with the colder temperatures, I was wondering if I should leave this in the oven?

I wasn't sure if:
- 1) That would be too warm
- 2) The close space wouldn't allow the right airflow for the yeast

Thanks for such a wonderful site!

-Duncan

Chef John said...

Yes, the oven works well!