A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Introducing Albert!

Albert is the most recent living organism that we have helped into creation. He is a sour dough starter culture and he lives in a jar in the kitchen. If you don't know what sour dough is then I'll give a quick explanation but if you want to read more then here is the Wikipedia link for it. The starter (Albert in my case) is flour and water mixed together and "fed" to keep it alive. The natural air born yeasts thrive in the environment and once you have enough it can be used to make sour dough bread, which is commonly regarded as a very high quality bread. When I say it is "fed" to keep it alive this means adding more water and flour to the mix. Below is a step by step method for creating your own Albert.

  1. Put equal quantities of flour and water in a jar. I started with about 2 tablespoons of each.
  2. Mix the flour and water with your hands and set aside with a loose top overnight.
  3. The next day add equal quantities of flour and water again and mix. This time I used a spoon rather than my hands.
  4. Repeat the process for a week and at this point you should have bubbles on the surface. This shows that your "Albert" is alive and giving off gas. This also means you are ready to start making bread!
That was fairly simple. I haven't any experience prior to this at creating a sough dough starter so everyone should have a go. The flour I used was a combination of wholemeal and white flour but what I've read it doesn't really matter for the starter. Once you have a good amount of the starter you can slow down the feeding to every other day or so and even keep it in the fridge. I personally haven't put it in the fridge due to using too large a container for my starter. If you start getting too much starter you can either discard some, use some or give some to a friend and let them start making sour dough. A few days ago I noticed that Albert was getting a little watery so I tipped some out and added more flour and if I notice he's getting too thick I will add more water.

Now comes the tricky part, actually making it into bread. I have done 2 attempts and both have tasted good but have resulted in loaves that could hammer nails in with. I think I know what went wrong with it though but since then Steph has made some sough dough and hers was far superior to mine. I will let her post about that at her convenience. The method I used didn't work well enough to include a printing here so you'll have to wait for Steph to print hers or use a recipe from the internet, there are hundreds if you search for sough dough recipe.

To finish with are a few photos of Albert

Albert, Sour dough starter
Albert, born 20/08/2012

Albert, Sour dough starter
Nearly a month later, plenty of life in the old chap!

Albert, Sour dough starter
Albert is a lot bigger now!