There is always room for dessert. Is a phrase I have adapted as a sort of motto on how I live my life. I try to maintain a "heathy diet". The ideal is so appealing, I follow all these fit and healthy girls on social media and think; as soon as its nice out, I will eat healthy and exercise. Its a lovely thought and remarkably unrealistic. I often wish I was allergic to sugar. Instead I'm pretty sure im addicted. To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. I grew up waking up to the smell of fresh baked goods wafting from the kitchen.
My Nana is an incredible baker. She would bake for any and every occasion. Her kitchen is small and cramped with little work space, but somehow she manages to deliver like any production kitchen. We all request our favourite treats and each get our own Tupperware crammed to the brim. When she visits for Christmas she has one suitcase dedicated to her baked goods, often sacrificing clothes and other essentials just to make us all happy. Some recipes are passed down and others are shared between friends and colleagues. It can be a long year waiting for her baked goods, sometimes I give her a call and ask for a recipe to make just to feel close to her. It is never the same, it never tastes as good as hers. I love my Nana's squares, tarts and pies, and her strawberry jam is out of this world. There is nothing like a good piece of bread smothered in her jam. If there is one thing I could say she is best at isn't her sweets at all. It's the bread that the jam goes on.
Her specialty is fresh baked loaves of bread. To this day my 80 year old grandmother still makes 6 loaves of bread every two weeks. Its a labourous process that takes almost an entire day for her to complete. She has been doing it all her life, her mother did it all her life. When you are Scotian and you have a large family you need to save money where money can be saved. Bread was something that you never had to buy it could always be made and for much less. Her recipe is from The Purity Cookbook which was originally published in 1932. I have so much respect for a bread baker. Its never been my forte, although I have had tough shoes to fill. Just like her sweets I follow her method but somehow its just never the same. She was so intrigued when I told her about my fermentation project. It is something she has never done, or even considered. She bakes a basic white loaf, even if there is nothing basic about the flavour, she doesn't often stray from what is tried and true. I did this for her in hopes that I can show her when we are together.
I started my Sourdough fermentation with equal parts flour and equal parts water. I started small as I knew I wanted it to grow and feed it daily. For my first starter I didn't use any particularly specialty flour. Just unbleached white flour. I used a scale for exact measurements. I also used filtered water to maintain purity.
1/4 cup White Flour
1/4 Filtered Water
I combined the ingredients till smooth, no lumps of unblended flour. For photography purposes and to show its growth I kept it in a tall glass for expansion. I had it set on top of the fridge for the first few days but eventually moved it to the laundry room with a more consistent temperature. I was also concerned it would get discarded accidentally when my mom pulled it down and exclaimed "ew what is this!"
I woke up and immediately checked my started for evidence of progress. I noticed a few bubbles forming, bubbling up to the surface. I measured out another equal amount of flour and water in the same fashion as my initial creation and added it to my fermentation. Replacing the glass to the top of the fridge.
Today there were significantly more bubbles forming on the surface, it was also developing a little froth on the top. I could smell a slight hint of something almost like sour milk. I weighed out my equal parts water and flour and fed my slightly stinky bubbly starter. I also transferred my starter to a larger vessel to accommodate its growth on this day, and moved it to a different more consistent temperature location.
I began to see real changes and a much more pungent smell. I was so excited. It was actually working! I weighed out my equal parts water and flour and fed my starter. The starter became like my child. I would check on it constantly and would brag about it and show photo's to anyone who would listen. (Whether they wanted to or not)
More bubbles, more froth and more smell. It was becoming more and more like a real baby. When babies are still drinking milk sometimes well all the time they tend to spit up. If it happens on you whether it's a little or a lot it has a very distinct smell. You can try to wipe it off but if you can't change your shirt that smell just lingers, you get a waft of it every once in a while and think where is it coming from. That is what my Sourdough Starter child smelled like on Day 5. I was a tad concerned thinking should it smell like this? Really? How can something that smells like this be good in bread...in fact at this point I thought well this is fun but there is no way I am going to make anything with this? I did some "Googling" just for reassurance. Google can't be wrong right? I proceeded to feed and nurture my stinky child.
Today the starter had really started to develop. It was very frothy and bubbly and the smell was strong but I expected this and had warmed up to the idea that this was a good thing. I proceeded with feeding and tucked my started in to rest and grow
When I started I had assumed the process would come to fruition on this day. I still felt that I could take this along a little further. I continued the process and thought that I could go for 2 more days at least.
I separated my starter today starting a smaller more manageable batch. Still maintaining both. I did this early in hopes that I could feed twice today. I fed both my starters equal amounts flour and water and let it rest till the evening. Before I went to bed I fed both my starters again.
I followed the same process as the previous day. A feeding in the morning and a feeding at night. In hopes that I could bake on Day 10.
I read that the optimal time to use your starter is 4 hours after feeding. I checked my starter in the morning for progress and there hadn't been much change since Day 8. My aim was to bake that day so I waited to feed till I knew I could bake within 4 hours.