Baking in Bequia 3

Hey, do you have a very sour, very European, preferably Dutch/German recipe for sourdough starter? A reader has asked on behalf of his Dutch wife, and the bakers in town are NOT inclined to give up any secrets. I have a good prospect in CRUST by Richard Bertinet, and can reference my Baking with Julia (Child) book. This lady far outstrips me as a baker, but I’m still hoping to come up with something amazing. Please please please have a recipe!

Dear dandelionwine,

You beat me to it. I had planned to find and develop an extra-sour sourdough starter while I’m on Bequia this time, because Pammy & Tommy Cantina were asking. So today is the day I will “start,” so to speak, although it’s pouring rain again today, and may be too cool to get the fermentation process properly working.

I did do some research, however, and you can check out these sites for information on making a more sour sourdough bread: Here and here. Plus I checked out a copy of The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum, and the secret is in the amount of flour and water mixed together (and only flour and water are used) then in the time allowed for fermentation. A stiffer dough is required, so 50% hydration is what you’ll want to mix, ie. twice as much flour to water, by weight. I’ve now mixed together 12 oz. of flour with 6 oz. of water and the resulting dough is indeed stiff. Now, if I leave it sit for a few days and don’t feed it, I should have a highly acidic starter that I can then add to a bread recipe, and will hopefully be rewarded with a stronger biting taste, as well as a crunchier crust, as a result. I plan to leave this starter for five days and will try to bake a batch of bread on Thursday. I’ll report back then.

By the way, the other information I gleaned from the book is that German bakers almost always use rye flour exclusively, rather than white flour, to make their sourdough starter. The rye definitely already has a stronger taste, so will give a more sour flavour to the bread. I don’t think I have any rye flour left in the freezer, and I might not be able to buy any at this time of year from Doris. One of the drawbacks of Bequia – we’re limited in the ingredients we have readily at hand.

The rain did finally taper off and we are now enjoying scattered patches of blue sky. It’s humid, though. I’m not sure how that will effect the ratio of flour to moisture in my starter. Time will tell.

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2 responses

  1. You, Susan Toy, are my hero! Thank you thank you! I can’t wait to hear about how it all turns out 🙂

  2. I bought some Alaskan sourdough starter — dry stuff. Big disappointment. It just sat there for a few days. I finally gave up and added yeast. After I had dough rising from this enhanced concoction, I read the recipes. They called for added yeast.

    Wishing you well with your starter. I never have been able to start one without a yeast primer, though I never tried one as stiff as yours. I have made Jewish sourdough rye bread, but it started with a white flour and yeast starter. It also has beer in it. Yummm!

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