I got a new Sourdough starter a few days ago. It was dormant and to bring this stuff back to life you have to do three things:
You have to warm it up, you have to feed it, and you have to rehydrate it. It is a very simple but fairly unforgiving process to get optimal results. When you feed it you double the amount you have, with equal parts of flour and water, and you do this two or three times a day for a couple days. So ... if you start out with a cup of sleepy starter, in a few days time you wind up with an olympic sized swimming pool full. Smart bakers throw half their starter away, and then double the volume. In this way you never increase the amount you have, but you do wind up tossing an awful lot of SD starter. This is not like having excess Hersey bars or cinnamon rolls that you need to get rid of. The market for active sour dough starter in our neighborhood is saturated.
My mom lived through the flu pandemic, and the great depression, in a soddy on the easter plains of Montana. She would skin me if she knew that I was throwing away buckets of SD starter which could just as easily have been made into waffles, pancakes, english muffins, bread, you name it. But there are only so many hours in a day and I sure don't want a feezer full of home made bread. She saved string, rubbebands, washed out her plasic bags and used them again. She thought anyone who didn't have at least one 21 cubic foot freezer was a little odd, not to be trusted. Still, a little of that depression mentality got drummed into me because today I just could not stand to toss 3 cups of flour and water out (oh the horror). I decided I'd bake something with the last round of surplus starter.
I decided on baguettes. This is the deep end of the pool for me, I have always had trouble with these things, not sure what made me think I could swing this after a long layoff. It's right there in the family coat of arms: "My head is harder than this brick wall."
I found a cheater recipe, part SD starter and a pinch of bakers yeast to give the rise a boost (this is the equivalant of perfomance enhancing drugs for sourdough purists). Othewise, it's a day and a half rising the dough with just the levain .
It went together quick. One of the beauties of baguettes is that there are very few ingredients: flour, water, salt, and levain. (and instant yeast in this case). I was worried at the final rise, the dough was laying there like a jelly fish (it was a very slack dough). But when I closed the windows and preheated the oven, that bakers yeast kicked in and things took a turn for the better.
They came out looking good. I jazzed them up with a topping of chopped nuts and seeds (crunchy can hide a multitude of short comings).
Pics here , here , and here
Sorry, they seem to have changed the rules again for how to post pics from Flickr to this blog. I'll have to get schooled again I guess.
The neighbors think I am doing the work of the lord (these came out of the oven just about supper time.