Now I tell you the story of how Bubbly Bob comes to be.
Until earlier this year I had no idea what a sourdough starter is. I have learnt to bake a very basic bread with your standard instant dry yeast and active dry yeast (bought by mistake, didn’t know you need to activate them with water first) And that was the extent of my knowledge about yeast for bread.
One day I had a conversation with a somewhat hippy coworker, he talked about “making your own yeast”. “Yeast is everywhere, even in the air!” “You just put it in a bowl and it will start growing”… put what in a bowl? Air?
I had no idea what he was going on about, and he wasn’t actually able to give me any detail information on what the actual process is. Well, I thought it was just one of those things that he say. (like how he goes on about tincture and kombucha)
Enter The Larousse Book of Bread. Baking boyfriend likes bread and intended to make more bread than our basic loaf. It is a very nice book with beautiful photos and lots of brand new information I have never heard before. Fresh yeast apparently is a thing and it comes in a block that looks sort of like butter. I have never seen it, and still have no idea where to buy some. The other thing is a sourdough starter. It is a key ingredient in every recipe in the book. So the next logical step is of course, try to make one.
Here is the recipe and you work on it for 4 days:
20g Rye flour
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm spot overnight.
40g Rye flour
80g Rye flour
100g All purpose flour
It is more of the same thing everyday. You mix all the ingredient and mix with the previous day’s mixture. Each day you should be seeing bubbles from the previous day’s mixture and its volume should double by day 4.
No such luck for us. We tried it any number of times and no bubbles ever form. It just formed a dry disgusting crust on top and nothing ever happens. We gave up for months and didn’t try it again. Just ate our regular bread and gave up hope to make these pretty breads from the book.
Once summer is over and I tried to bake again, I realized bread simply doesn’t rise properly in our house within any recipe’s time frame because it is simply too cold in the house. It has been always difficult to bring anything to “room temperature” in the house but I never quite connected the dots. I thought perhaps if I start the culture in a smaller jar (to prevent water loss) and wrap it in towels to keep warm, keep it in the oven with the door closed. That should keep it quite warm.
It worked, and that is how we have Bubbly Bob now.
I read somewhere on the internet that naming your starter culture is good luck. Baking boyfriend as usual, suggested “Bob” as a name. (you know, from Blackadder) He does that whenever I ask for a suggestion for names, probably hoping I will stop asking some day.
Anyway. Bubbly Bob now spends most of its time in the fridge. I tried to feed it at least once a week, meaning I will also at least bake with Bubbly Bob once a week on a regular bread schedule. I hope we have a long and delicious adventure together, and I shall of course, document our bubbly adventures here.