Wild Yeast (aka Sourdough) Update

july-111You may remember from last week that I had started a wild yeast experiment, seeking to cultivate some sourdough starters using various gluten free flours and adding nothing but equal parts water (this is apparently called a 100% hydration mix). I had four jars: one teff, one brown rice, one sorghum, and one Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten free mix. I set them out on top of the fridge with cheesecloth covering their openings and waited. Well, they bubbled for a few days and got exciting, and then quieted down by about day three.

I started feeding them when they began to bubble and kept feeding them daily until last Thursday, when I placed them all in the fridge to settle down for the weekend because it had been well past the recommended 7 days of fermenting and I didn’t want them to get too sour. By this point, they had all stopped smelling like cheese and stinky feet and actually started smelling like good, ole yeasty bread. A sample from each tasted decidedly sour.

On Saturday, I got out two of the starters and let them come to room temp on the counter. I should probably note at this point that we live in the desert, that our ambient room temp is 76-78 degrees, and that it is the middle of monsoon season, so the air is relatively humid. I fed them and waited and by evening they looked relatively happy again. So I made doughs – one teff based, the other from Bob’s Red Mill. The dough consisted of an equal part of their base flour, plus tapioca flour and some salt and a tablespoon or so of sugar.

The doughs went in the oven overnight to proof – the oven being a place safe from cats – and were checked in the morning. Both of them had clearly risen, but not as might be expected. It was more of a 30% increase in volume than what should have been a doubling. I punched them down, added a little more sugar and water (and subsequently more tapioca flour hwen I over-watered), and let them sit on top of the fridge for the rest of the day.

By evening (Sunday, now), they – again – had only risen 30%. I decided to try my luck anyway and went ahead and baked the Bob’s Red Mill version at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (based off of online research and consensus). It spread out and then rose slightly, so that the crust it formed cracked quite nicely, but it was dense as a brick.

Still, it was edible, even if dense, and its texture was fine, but its flavor was amazing. It was complex and sour and so, so very delicious. Like the best sourdough English muffin.

So, obviously, there are still some (large) (unwieldy) (ohgod) kinks to be worked out in the production and recipe, but at least the long, wild ferment even works with gluten free flours. I have three more to go and I’m going to try some different things to see if I can get a loaf that isn’t a brick.

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Filed under baking, diet, simply informative

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