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  1. Video: Over the last year or so I have spent a lot of time learning how to make great bread and pizza. One of the lessons I have learned is that it’s crucial to have access to a sourdough starter. This is a naturally-obtained yeast culture that comes from the naturally occurring yeast in the flour and the air of your environment. This is also why some sourdough strains can produce different tastes than another strain from another area. I have experimented with several different techniques for building a sourdough starter and found one that I prefer. This is easy to do and it is even easier to maintain once you get the starter nice and healthy over a 7-day period. Here is my procedure: Items you need: Whole Wheat Flour Rye Flour (optional) All-purpose Flour 2 one-quart size containers with lids Kitchen Scale that measures in grams Digital thermometer for measuring water temperature (optional but very useful) Combine 100 grams of whole wheat and 100 grams of rye flours and set it on your counter in a mixing bowl for two or three days. They rye flour is also optional but beneficial. If you don’t want to use rye flour, just replace it with whole wheat flour. Stir it occasionally as you walk by. This step is optional but it helps the flour pick up some naturally-occurring yeast from your environment. Day 1: Evening Place 100 grams of your whole wheat / rye flour mixture in a 1 quart container that has a lid option. Add 100 grams of 100°F water to the container. Mix the flour and water completely until there is no dry flour left. Place a loose-fitting lid on the container and set on your counter at room temperature. Day 2: Evening Approximately 24 hours after your initial step, add the remaining 100 grams of whole wheat / rye flour mixture to your container with an additional 100 grams of 100°F water. Mix completely and replace the loose-fitting lid and set back on the counter at room temperature. Day 3: Evening You should see noticeable activity when you open the container on day 3. The mixture should have risen significantly! At this point, remove half of your mixture to a second one quart container and discard the other half. Add an additional 100 grams of whole wheat flour and 100 grams of 100°F water and mix completely. Replace the loose fitting cover and put it back on the counter at room temperature. Clean out the dirty container so we can use it again tomorrow. Day 4: Evening Remove about 25% of your mixture to the clean container. Add 100 grams of whole wheat flour and 100 grams of 90°F water and mix completely. Replace the loose fitting cover and put it back on the counter. Clean out the dirty container. Day 5: Evening Remove 50 grams of your mixture to the clean container. Add 75 grams of whole wheat flour and 75 grams of all-purpose flour. Add 150 grams of 85°F water and mix completely. Replace the loose fitting cover and put it back on the counter. Clean out the dirty container. Day 6: Evening Remove 50 grams of your mixture to the clean container. Add 100 grams of all-purpose flour and 100 grams of 85°F water. Mix completely. Replace the loose fitting cover and put it back on the counter. Clean out the dirty container. Day 7: Morning Tighten the lid on the container and place it in the fridge. After another 12 hours or so, the starter is ready for use. Maintaining the starter: Maintaining the start is easy. Once a week or every 10 days or so, remove 25 grams of the mixture to a clean container. Add 100 grams of all purpose flour and 100 grams of 85°F water and mix completely. All this mixture to sit loosely covered on your counter for 10 to 12 hours and then pop it back in the fridge tightly covered. Using the starter: When your recipe calls for sourdough starter, simply remove however much your recipe calls for from the container in the fridge and add it to your recipe. If you are using the starter, that is an optimal time to ‘feed’ it again with the steps in the “Maintaining the starter” section above. If you are cooking more than normal in any given week, you can feel free to double the contents of the starter by doubling the amounts listed in the maintenance procedure. There are a lot of recipes that will use your discarded starter. I have had some fantastic waffles and pancakes that have sourdough starter mixed into the batter! I think I may add one of those recipes to this blog sometime soon! Cheers! Note: This sourdough starter technique is a modified version of the one presented in “The Elements of Pizza” by Ken Forkish.
  2. Has any one tried Insta Fire? I saw it on Shark Tank and it seems an odd product. It burns but does not seem to gain in power. It can be put out by dumping it on top of its self. They throw a ball of it in water and it floats and relights its self. With the alcohol and cotton balls--- the cardboard and paraffin Rutland Safe Lite coating 14 cents a block and working with 1/2 a block at 7 cents--- and a propane torch lasting forever on a 3 dollar tank---I just do not see this as attractive at a dollar a pack for lighting lump charcoal. It supposedly is for sale in a bunch of stores and is available on Amazon. https://www.instafire.com/ http://www.amazon.com/InstaFire-Eco-Friendly-Granulated-Charcoal-Briquette/dp/B00FS37RBO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1458319509&sr=8-2&keywords=instafire+fire+starter
  3. I wanted to put together a short tutorial on how to dry/dehydrate a sourdough starter so you can use bits of it at any time to get a new starter going quickly if you need it... When you are feeding your sourdough starter and discarding some of the unfed starter during the process, save a bit of that unfed starter... I did this by two different methods.... first, I spread some of the unfed starter on a piece of parchment paper and just left it out on my counter... I took another sample of it and spread it out on a plastic unperforated dehydrator tray... I set the dehydrator on the lowest setting (95°) on mine and let it run for about 4 hours. After 4 hours it was not completely dry so I just let it sit as is overnight... After about 36 hours, my parchment paper sample was dried... I just broke these up and put them in a jar, sealed the jar and put it away... To use this to re-start a new starter: Weigh out about 1/2 to 1 gram of the crumbled chips. Dissolve them in about 150 grams of lukewarm water. This may take a bit, but you can stir it and help it along. Let them completely dissolve. Then add 150 grams of wheat or bread flour and mix completely and treat it like a new starter from scratch. The only difference between this and a new starter is that you should see activity MUCH QUICKER because you added a LOT of yeast cells to the process with your dried starter chips...
  4. Greetings.... After having played with Mewantkj's sourdough starter for a bit (and I'm still working with that one) I decided to pull my girlfriend's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" book off the shelf to have a look at their interpretation of Sourdough starters and bread.... My girlfriend is an 'expert' level bread baker and I had bought her this book at some point in the past as it was highly recommended. Making the sourdough starter: Day 1: 1 cup (4.25 ounces) of Rye flour (precision is not important) 1/2 cup (4.00 ounces) of unsweetened pineapple juice (precision is not important) Combine the two in a mixing bowl... Form into a dough ball... Place the dough ball into a 1 quart (4 cup) container (I used a mason jar) and press it into the bottom of the container as shown... Mark the dough level with a piece of tape.... Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter at room temperature for 24 hours before moving on to the Day 2 procedure... I will post the Day 2 procedure tomorrow evening. You may be asking why pineapple juice instead of water? This is quoted directly from the book: This might be what happened to my yeast starter that I am working with form Mewantkj's recipe. I had no real activity during the first 24 hours, but during second day, it went crazy and then died back down to very little activity. This yeast starter procedure is a little different and it goes in two stages. The first stage (the first 4 days) is called the Seed Culture. The second stage is called the "Barm" or the "Mother Culture". We will go through that process as well and then use it to make a loaf of bread.
  5. Sorry if this is somewhere already... I did a search and didn't see what I'm looking for. On Saturday I ran out of the Kamado Joe lump charcoal that came with my BigJoe. Then on Sunday I ran out of Starters... Way to be prepared for the weekend Saturday I went to Home Depot and got the Royal Oak Lump Charcoal. It is no where near as "sexy" as the lump that Kamado sells!!! These being more flat and board like. They worked and a friend with a BGE uses them, but I will order something else online if the consensus is to do so. Sunday I made my second emergency visit to Home Depot and bought a 3-pack of Instafire Charcoal Starter.These did the job in a bind but I was concerned about what's in them. The packaging says safe for ceramic so that's why I decided to get them. Being new to this world of cooking and not wanting to contaminate my ceramics I am trying to be cautious! Any Guru recommendations on Charcoal and Starters? Is it possible to make DIY Starters? Thanks for any info and help!!!
  6. When I posted my October Bread Challenge Entry (who won BTW?), I was asked about my yeast starter. Ingredients: 12 oz wt minimum of unbleached flour 12 oz wt minimum of warm dechlorinated water (105 deg F) Steps: 1) Mix 4 oz wt of flour with 4 oz wt water. Cover with plastic wrap poked with holes. 2) Second day, check for any signs of fermentation. Add 4 more oz of each flour/water. Cover again. 3) Third day, fermentation should be occurring. If so, dump about half of starter, and add 4 more oz each of four and water. 4) From now on, every 12 hours remove half of the mixture and add 4 more oz each of flour and water to keep it going. If not baking soon, put it in refrigerator and feed it weekly by dumping half and replacing it. Here is the method I used to make it: http://youtu.be/6LOX-lS-a5w
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