Tag Archives: starter

Artos: #BBA Challenge Bread No. 2

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Recipe number two in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge series is “Artos: Greek Celebration Breads“. In the preamble, Peter Reinhart tells how this is a holiday and festival bread that cover multiple variations.

The basic recipe is easily turned into “Christpsomos”, a Christmas loaf, by the simple additions of raisins, cranberries and walnuts or into “Lambropsomo”, an Easter loaf, by adding raisins, dried apricots and almond slivers a, braiding and nestling red-dyed hard boiled eggs. There are numerous local and not-so-local variations on this basic spiced bread.

I went with the christopsomos version since I did happen to have raising and cranberries, although I passed on the walnuts since we’re not big fans here.

So here we go, the step-by-step evolution of my first Artos bread…

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The Waste Conundrum

On bread discussion boards where people talk about their sourdough starters, invariably you will see posts written by people who are concerned about the amount of flour or old starter they end up tossing away, especially during the creating-the-starter phase. There seems to be much fretting and worrying that so much product is simply going to waste.

In this post, I’d like to address a few ideas concerning waste in the starter which, hopefully, will spark some discussion and help resolve some of the concern.

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Vermont Sourdough

Yeah, it’s been a few months. Not that I haven’t made bread, I have, numerous batches in fact. But they were really mostly “sandwich” bread and all basic yeast things. Not as tasteless as store bought “Wonder” type stuff (which they were meant to replace) but not terribly exciting, either. On the up side, these numerous plain breads allowed me to play with the oven’s temp a bit and I think I have it tweaked to be pretty accurate now so things don’t burn too much. So let’s get on with today’s bake.

Vermont Sourdough Continue reading

Home Grown: Starting from scratch vs bought

Considering that sourdough has been around for thousands and thousands of years, long before the introduction of grams, temperatures gauges, refrigerators, electric ovens, or even the idea that the world wasn’t flat, one would think starting your own starter is a breeze.

Maybe it is, but I had a heck of a time myself. And when I was thinking “Why is this so dag nabbed difficult, it’s just flour and water” it was even more frustrating. But in reality, it’s more than just flour and water, it’s flour with the wild yeast still on it, water that doesn’t have additives meant to kill yeast and bacteria we WANT to cultivate, optimum temperatures, feeding at the right times so as to Continue reading

Starter Maintenance: Regular feeds

Feeding a starter

There are several ways to keep a starter:

  • a “wet” starter which is like a thin pancake batter
  • a thicker pancake batter type
  • a stiff starter that looks like a ball of dough

There are advantages to each but for our purposes, we’ll use the more common ‘thick pancake batter’ type. We’ll also be keeping it at what’s referred to in the bread world as “100% hydration” which simply means your starter (or dough) has 100% of the flour weight in water. If you use 163g of flour, you add 163g of water; if you use 47g flour, use 47g water. Your flour’s weight is always the base and your water is the percentage of that weight. You’ll possibly see other percentages like 65% hydration starters which are more dough-like since there’s only 65% of the flour weight in water, therefore less water than flour. I just wanted to touch on hydration percentages because it seems to pop up a lot in the bread world. But as I said, we’ll work with the more typical 100% hydration level. Continue reading