|Sourdough rising and ready to bake.|
Keep potato water available for baking with: Take a large potato, scrub well, but do not peel. Dice small and cover with 4 cups fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, let simmer until the potato begins to break down. With a slotted spoon, remove the large pieces and decant the potato water (along with any potato puree) into a clean quart jar, top with a loose fitting lid and refrigerate.
You can also use up older potatoes in a large batch of potato water, and use the cooked potato pieces for potato bread, or hash browns.
Keep the starter at room temperature: The room temperature starter is ready to bake with. When I kept the sourdough in the refrigerator I would try and plan a baking day. I would remove the starter and while waiting for the starter to come to room temperature, the day would get away from me, with other chores. Then at the end of the day, back into the refrigerator it would go.......with no baking done (again).
Add a little flour each day: One seasoned sourdough baker ( from The Bread Winners) has suggested adding a bit of flour each day. For those keeping the starter jar or crock at room temperature, this is a very good idea. After a couple of days the liquid on top becomes "inky" (potato water is the culprit, but it is wonderful for the finished bread!) by working the sourdough each day this will be prevented, plus there is constant activity. A teaspoon of flour is all you need.
A surprising tool to have around. Bamboo skewers or a chop stick, makes a great stir stick for the daily stirring of your sourdough starter. If you are competent with chopsticks, two in your hand will act as a whisk. As it turns out, I am not and will most likely use the little silicone spatulas until I improve. Remember, you must avoid metal spoons and whisks when working with your starter.
Whole Wheat Flour: Has a stronger flavor/taste than all purpose white and might need more salt. And it might need more sweetener, whether you use honey, granulated or real maple syrup. Baked goods should not be salty, nor should they taste dull or "flat".
Adaptation may be necessary: Especially with sourdough baking precise measurements are almost impossible. The sourdough starter itself will be different each time due to water and flour ratios.
I have come to dislike the messy jar. I have many serving bowls, more than I need to keep in reserve for serving from, the solution was to use two of them for the starter. This makes it possible to transfer to a clean bowl after each use.
Rummaging in the cupboard I found a glass lid that works very well. It is not too snug, so gasses may escape, yet fits tight enough to keep flying critters out in the warmer months of the year. Plus it is a lot prettier than the jar as it sits on the counter.
Sometimes what looks like a beautiful loaf of bread, is really a brick. Heavy, not enjoyable, beyond croutons even. You will have this happen from time to time. Why you might ask, would an experienced baker not be able to produce edible food? It is simple really, yeast is a living organism and as such cannot be completely controlled. Please, don't let this stop you, keep on keeping on and you will be rewarded again, I promise.
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