Bread Hoarders Anonymous, Breads, Easy, Kitchen Fodder, Test Kitchen
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Bread Whore ~ The “Not Quite Sourdough ” Starter

This story was going to be just about making a loaf of bread. But, I realized that before I could talk about the loaf, I had to tell you about the starter – or it just wasn’t going to make any sense.

And when I put everything together into one long, rambling, never-ending scroll, … it was just to boring to get through…

I think I even fell asleep a couple of times.

So…SCRAPPED… And, instead of tempting you with loverly pictures of

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THIS! (The Hybrid Portuguese Broa Loaf)

We have to get there , first…. with

THIS! (and yes, it's not nearly as sexy)

THIS! (and yes, it’s not nearly as sexy)

This whole process started by me trying to improve on the taste and texture of The Modern English Muffin from a couple of month back. Don’t get me wrong, the muffins were / are great, but they just don’t have that dark, musky, sourdough-y hint that some of the bakery versions have.

So, the little demon in my head says, “Start with sourdough starter”. Only, I really don’t like sourdough. .. and I’ve always made a crappy starter. The easy way out seemed to be to “buy” a starter. However, I’m cheap and I refuse to spend money on something that’s essentially flour and water….. meaning, I needed to do a lot of research and come up with a version I could actually succeed with.

Here’s the thing with sourdough starters – they’re incredibly wasteful. Every recipe out there has you mixing up a voluminous amount of flour and water / letting it do it’s thing for a day / throwing HALF of it away and adding more flour and water… and repeating that exercise for up to 2 weeks. (Granted… flour and water are pretty cheap. But it’s wasteful, and I hate waste.) I wanted to find a way to make a set amount of starter, where the end product used all of the culture without any discard.

I began with a Poolish. A poolish is a reasonably quick preferment usually only requiring 12 hours or so of proofing. The starter is fairly liquid in a 1 to 1 ratio of flour and water with the added boosters of sugar and yeast. This would get the ferment started… but wouldn’t give me any of the sourdough characteristics. Poolish starters produce tender, fine textured breads

I then looked at a Biga. Unlike a poolish, bigas are more bread-like in their consistency. They require much longer proof and ferment times, and they produce larger air structures with a chewier texture.

What I ended up with is a mish-mash of a poolish, a biga, and a sourdough starter. It has a bit of sourness, a LOT of rise, and a decent remaining amount of the inherent yeastiness you get from slow fermentation.

The Starter

Makes 1/2  Cup (or there about) of Starter – enough for 1 recipe of the Hybrid Broa

Ingredients and Procedure, In Stages

Day 1

1/4 Cup Bread Flour

1/4 Cup Water

1/2 Teaspoon Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Yeast

1 Pint Canning Jar with Ring

Plastic Wrap

Sterilize the jar and mix all the ingredients together and pour into the jar.  Place plastic wrap over the top and secure the ring. Poke 8 to 10 holes in the plastic. Set the jar in a warm dark place for 24 hours. (I placed mine in the pantry).

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I mark the jar with a sharpie every day just in case I forget where I got to

Day 2

1 Tablespoon Flour

1 Tablespoon Water

Long Spoon

Remove the covering and stir in the flour and water. You should see fine bubbles throughout the starter. Replace the plastic and ring and place back in its resting place for 24 hours.

Day 3

1 Tablespoon Flour

1 Tablespoon water (OPTIONAL)

Remove the cover and check the starter. IF there is a light brownish liquid floating on top of the ferment, only add the flour. This only means your starter didn’t need all the water you added from the day before. This will just depend on humidity and the type of flour you used… it wont hurt you or your starter. If there is no liquid, and just a layer of bubbles across the top, add both the flour and water – give it a good stir – replace cover and put back in it’s place.

Day 4

Repeat Day 3

Day 5

Your starter is ready to use. This will provide you with 1/2 cup of starter – enough to make 12 muffins & 1 loaf of bread… or 2 loaves…. with NO waste.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Hybrid Portuguese Broa | Plate Fodder

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