Yesterday we ran out of yeast. I can’t find any in stores here on the Eastern Shore. Thankfully, I am prepared! “Here, fido!”
Fido is the name I gave to my tub of sourdough starter. It’s alive and I take care of it, so it’s like a pet. A pet that poops delicious bread.
I named it Fido as shorthand for infinite dough. Well, I thought it was clever…
It’s kind of cool. When I was little after seeing The Blob for the first time I wanted a pet blob of my own. Now I have one!
Anyway, a sourdough starter is just a culture of wild yeast fungus found naturally in the air we breathe. You just take some flour, add water and let the wild yeast in the air move in and start farting the place up.
Quick breads use a chemical leavening agent like baking powder, baking soda or bakers ammonia to create air bubbles in the dough to create a light and airy texture.
Yeast breads allow yeast to consume the carbohydrates in the flour. The yeast then happily farts carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide fills the dough with air bubbles while the fermentation adds nutrition and flavor to the bread.
Most modern bread recepies use a dried yeast that must be proofed and sometimes contain ingredients that speed up the leavening process and maybe add in some vitamin C to make the dough less springy.
Sourdough starter is the same yeast, but it works much slower. This means you have to be patient with it, but it also means the slow fermentation is going to make the bread taste better.
Up until now, I have been supplementing my starter by tossing a bit of proofed dry yeast into the dough to get the sourdough taste without the long rise time.
Well, last night I made a loaf of my soft honey wheat with only sourdough starter. After hearing horror stories about the difficulties of pure sourdough bread I was hesitant, but it turns out that bad advice is not limited to banjo forums. After letting the dough rise overnight it is fluffy and beautiful. After breakfast, I’ll get it in the oven.
Tonight I’ll make some pizza dough and let it ferment in the refrigerator until Sunday night. Maybe get a few loaves of white bread rising.
In other news, since we are gearing up for the inaugural meeting of The Banjo and Donut Marching Society, I am also switching back from Windows 10 to Linux. I’ll keep one Win box in the house for running stuff that needs that platform, but my main work computers are loading my favorite distro as we speak.
Writing this it hit me that I am at this moment setting up a bunch of Linux boxes, I have an iPad plugged into a Zoom U-24 audio interface, a book in progress being written longhand, my camera is dusted off and I have homemade bread made with sourdough starter ready to toss in the oven. I guess turning 50 has done nothing to diminish curiosity, creativity, or artistic instincts!