Daniel Catalaa

Bread starter

A starter culture is a natural flavor and texture enhancer that is made in advance.

Ingredients

  • Bread Flour, 2 cups
  • Water, 1.5 cups
  • Yeast, 1 Tbs

Instructions

Getting started: To get the starter going, two weeks prior to making bread, mix together the flour, water, and the yeast and place covered in the refrigerator. By the next day the mixture will have small bubbles on the surface indicating that the yeast is alive and feeding off the flour. As the starter sits in the fridge, in addition to the yeast, beneficial bacteria will also grow within the goo imparting a more complex flavor to the bread.

Maintenance: A starter can be kept in your fridge indefinitely as long as you keep on feeding it. To do so, dump or use some of it for a recipe and replace the lost volume with an equal amount of a 1-to-0.75 volume ratio of flour to water mixture (at least once every two weeks).

Rescue: A neglected started will accumulate liquid that will float up. This is alcohol from the yeast's metabolic activity. If the started is left unfed for a longer period of time the liquid will turn dark. To rescue your starter, just pour off the liquid and feed it again.

Backup stock: It is possible to store some of the starter in a suspended state so that you can have a backup in case of a catastrophic loss. Just smear a thin coat (1-2 sixteenths of an inch) of starter onto parchment paper an let it air dry completely overnight. Crumble the dry sheet of starter into a Zip-lock bag and store it indefinitely in the freezer. When you need to bring it back to life, just add flour and water and repeat the steps described above.