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Can you make your own yeast for bread baking?

 
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Good Morning Everyone.

Can you make your own yeast for bread making?
 
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That's essentially sourdough (or levain). It doesn't always work exactly the same (often takes a bit longer) but since starting sourdough and using it, I've noticed I buy much less yeast.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:That's essentially sourdough (or levain). It doesn't always work exactly the same (often takes a bit longer) but since starting sourdough and using it, I've noticed I buy much less yeast.



Hi Tereza, thanks for the reply.

If I understand correctly you are saying that all home-grown yeast makes sourdough bread?  Is there a way to make yeast for white bread?

How do you make your yeast?
 
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You can also create a yeast water using water, sugar or honey, and fruit/herbs/flowers. I do this often. The procedure is very similar to creating a ginger bug or a naturally carbonated drink.

500g water
50g fruit (raisins or dates work very well, make sure they're organic)
27g of sugar or honey

Mix that all together and put it in a jar. I usually use a lock top jar. Shake it and burp it twice a day (CO2 will build up - if you do not burp it, it might explode!). When it is very active, which should only take a few days, it will be ready for baking. Mix the water together with some flour (I go for about 30g of flour and 30g of the yeast water), put it in a jar, and let it sit. It may take a day to rise as it gets used to eating the flour vs. sugar or honey. When it triples, you now have a leaven you can use to leaven your bread with.

Note that if you're using a recipe that calls for instant yeast, this stuff will leaven your dough much slower since it is wild yeast. Also, be sure to subtract the flour and water amounts in the leaven from the flour and water amounts in the recipe.
 
Tereza Okava
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I've made levain just as you describe, Kimbo (using organic apples, or raisins). I've also made sourdough starter using just flour and water (plenty of recipes everywhere but there is a thread here about "care and feeding of sourdough starter" or something similar, but this is a good summary https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337).
In terms of long-term storage and effectiveness, I've had more success with the sourdough starter than the fruit-started levain, but the taste of the levain bread is much better (less sour).
 
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Thanks for the great information.  I think I'll try making a batch with raisins and honey and a batch with white flour.  I'm a little confused about how to use it in a recipe, as far as the amount of starter to mix in, etc.  I think I'll have to experiment.
 
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I have just spent 1/2 hour parsing through Twitter for the amusing thread that had functionally the same information as in the Kitchn link above.  That lost thread linked to this, though, which is super interesting and funny:  https://twitter.com/SeamusBlackley/status/1140945355992965121  

If you click on his stream, the writer is a bit... obsessed with yeast and bread and over the last few days has recreated an Egyptian bread!  He also has this thread about sourdough, though it sadly needs a starter:  https://twitter.com/SeamusBlackley/status/1244314279102144513

Also, if you're in Hamburg, I have many yeast packets in my freezer... and flour is impossible to find.   Will do a no-contact trade.

I also have wheat and a never-put-together flour mill, so now could be my shining moment.  Maybe this weekend.
 
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Scott Foster wrote:Thanks for the great information.  I think I'll try making a batch with raisins and honey and a batch with white flour.  I'm a little confused about how to use it in a recipe, as far as the amount of starter to mix in, etc.  I think I'll have to experiment.



Experimentation is the best way to go. A good starting point is a 1:2:3 loaf - 1 part leaven/starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour (by weight). For salt, use 1% of the entire dough weight, or 2% of the weight of the flour.
 
Scott Foster
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I ended up using the King's roost recipe for a flour starter.  I will experiment with fruit tonight.




IMG_4926.JPG
Flour Starter
Flour Starter
 
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Kimbo Baugh wrote:

Scott Foster wrote:Thanks for the great information.  I think I'll try making a batch with raisins and honey and a batch with white flour.  I'm a little confused about how to use it in a recipe, as far as the amount of starter to mix in, etc.  I think I'll have to experiment.



Experimentation is the best way to go. A good starting point is a 1:2:3 loaf - 1 part leaven/starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour (by weight). For salt, use 1% of the entire dough weight, or 2% of the weight of the flour.[/quote

Thanks for this. :)

 
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote: I have many yeast packets in my freezer... and flour is impossible to find.   Will do a no-contact trade.

I also have wheat and a never-put-together flour mill, so now could be my shining moment.  Maybe this weekend.



I have flour and a small amount of yeast.  
 
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Kimbo Baugh wrote:You can also create a yeast water using water, sugar or honey, and fruit/herbs/flowers. I do this often. The procedure is very similar to creating a ginger bug or a naturally carbonated drink.

500g water
50g fruit (raisins or dates work very well, make sure they're organic)
27g of sugar or honey

Kimbo Baugh wrote:

Is it just me or does that sound like a recipe for methelglin mead?  

 
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Scott Foster wrote:
Is there a way to make yeast for white bread?



I think this may depend on what you mean by white bread.  In my world, that's a distinction from heavier darker breads that are thus because they are made with whole grain flours.  

I've had a ton of sourdough white bread.  Looks just like normal home-made bread, but has a sort of "sharp" flavor from the sourdough.   Color and texture -- if you're a good bread baker -- is indistinguishable from yeast-leavened bread.  

What's going on here, I think, is a matter of the yeast strains involved.  Sourdough starter is yeast, it's just not the precise species of yeastie micro-organism that the commercial yeast makers grow and dry and sell to you in the stores.  That yeast has a familiar flavor that we like.  Sourdough has a slightly different flavor.  We have a lot less control in a warm jar on our kitchen counter over which strains of yeast flourish.  Commercial yeast people have microscopes and laboratories to help them control the strains.  

You could, in theory, start a starter with bread yeast from your jar, feeding it and growing it and using it like a sourdough starter.  It would work at first, but over time, it would pick up strains of wild yeast and eventually become indistinguishable from sourdough.

However, if you are clever, you could bake for a year on the yeast in a single packet from the store.  It just needs overnight planning ahead.  Basically you could sprinkle three grains from the packet in a starter mixture of sugar and water and flour, stirring it every so often until the yeast explodes and multiplies.  Then use that whole starter to make your bread, once it's grown enough yeast to match the two tablespoons (or whatever) your recipe calls for.  In the time it takes to do that, your starter would probably stay pretty close to the original strains.  It just won't stabilize on that strain if you grow it out as a permanent starter.  And your amount of yeast will never be consistent from recipe to recipe, meaning your results will vary.


In practice, it will be a lot less work to maintain a sourdough starter.  If it's too sour for you, start a different one.  There are a lot of different wild yeasts out there and they all taste different.  It's not a foregone conclusion which one will become dominant in your starter.  That's why borrowing a starter from somebody who has a long-established one is better than making a new one -- you're more likely to get a good flavor.
 
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Thanks, Dan,  

You are correct I was thinking about sour-tasting versus less sour tasting.  I don't care what the color of the actual bread is.  I've been doing a modest amount of bread baking, but every loaf has been from a recipe. Cooking like this doesn't require much thought, maybe attention to detail but not thought.

When it comes to making your own Levain and yeast starters, that's another subject entirely.  I didn't realize that bread making is a universe: such a simple thing but so complicated, so many details and variables.

There are no charts or how too's once you get past making the starter.  There are millions of yeasts out there, and you don't know what you're going to get or exactly how much starter to add to your dough., it's actually kind of crazy how much of an art this is.  

I should have known; all fermentation is somewhat artistic.  I mean, look at cider, beer, and wine.  You need to know the basic techniques, but beyond that, it's experimentation, passion, talent.  

So esoteric.  Should I follow Alice into the rabbit hole?  :-)

 
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Scott, I have found that sourdough (like beer) tends to be super over analyzed. To me that makes it lose the magic, quite frankly. I could indeed measure every single gram of everything, but I kind of enjoy having at least one area of my life that isn't like that, so I try to cook in a way that is less chemistry lab and more just basic notions.
I use this recipe for plain white sourdough, and it is easy enough that I can do it more or less blindfolded and fit it into my daily schedule. I have a large covered tupperware where the overnight rise goes, and I bake in a covered Dutch oven. Try it and see how it works for you.  https://vanillaandbean.com/emilies-everyday-sourdough/
(sorry this page has so many pictures, I hate these recipe pages where you have to scroll through a small novella and photo journal to get to the actual recipe, but this recipe is well-tested, probably the easiest one I've seen so far, and really worth trying.)
 
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Scott, I bake a lot of white bread with sourdough starter. It doesn't have a sour taste unless I use a high ratio of starter to flour when I'm preparing the loaf. Tastes like white bread.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:Scott, I have found that sourdough (like beer) tends to be super over analyzed. To me, that makes it lose the magic, quite frankly. I could indeed measure every single gram of everything, but I kind of enjoy having at least one area of my life that isn't like that, so I try to cook in a way that is less chemistry lab and more just basic notions.
I use this recipe for plain white sourdough, and it is easy enough that I can do it more or less blindfolded and fit it into my daily schedule. I have a large covered Tupperware where the overnight rise goes, and I bake in a covered Dutch oven. Try it and see how it works for you.  https://vanillaandbean.com/emilies-everyday-sourdough/
(sorry this page has so many pictures, I hate these recipe pages where you have to scroll through a small novella and photo journal to get to the actual recipe, but this recipe is well-tested, probably the easiest one I've seen so far, and worth trying.)




I need to get a dutch oven. I've been using bread pans.
 
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you could make sourdough-risen bread in whatever you want, but because it doesn't have the "oomph" that packet yeast does, I find it is really important to use steam in a closed pot to help raise the bread. I have an oven-safe cast-iron pot with a glass lid, and I use that. I have seen a few work arounds (upside down oven safe pot over a boule on a baking sheet) and I'm sure a good web search would yield some more. I have a double-wide oven and so the ideas of making steam in the oven (ice cubes, etc) just haven't worked for me, and a steam injection oven is sadly not in my future.....
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:Scott, I bake a lot of white bread with sourdough starter. It doesn't have a sour taste unless I use a high ratio of starter to flour when I'm preparing the loaf. Tastes like white bread.



This is what I've found as well. At most there is usually just very slight tang to my bakes. Sourdough bakers actually struggle with getting their breads to be very sour.

I find that the % of whole grain and length of time the dough ferments factors in. Whole grains will make your sourdough a lot more sour.
 
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Scott Foster wrote:
I need to get a dutch oven. I've been using bread pans.



Do you have a roasting pan with a lid? Or a pizza stone/steel and a large metal bowl that can be placed over top? Dutch ovens are ideal, but anything that will trap steam and heat will work.

Another thing you can do is use two sheet pans. Heat both of them up in your oven, one on the middle rack and on the lower rack. When the oven is ready, load your dough into the top pan (with parchment or a dusting of cornmeal), then carefully pour hot water into the bottom pan and close the oven door. I have baked baguettes this way with a great deal of success.
 
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Lots of great advice above.

When using sourdough starter to make bread, I find that adding the salt as late in the process as possible makes the result less sour. I think I read that this is because the salty environment encourages lactobacteria (as in sauerkraut and kimchi) whereas without salt encourages mostly yeast, which doesn't make bread sour unless it goes too far.
 
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Rebecca Norman wrote:Lots of great advice above.

When using sourdough starter to make bread, I find that adding the salt as late in the process as possible makes the result less sour. I think I read that this is because the salty environment encourages lactobacteria (as in sauerkraut and kimchi) whereas without salt encourages mostly yeast, which doesn't make bread sour unless it goes too far.



Interesting! I'll have to play around with this and see how it goes.
 
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Scott, for the record, I always recommend going down the rabbit hole. Not only that, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.  
 
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Since shop bought yeast is a rarity on shop shelves at the moment I currently have some from a packet of organic dried yeast doing its thing with water and wholemeal flour on the windowsill. I'd read that I should throw half of it away each day and replace it with the same volume of fresh flour and water every day for a week. I don't make bread with anything but flour water yeast and salt so wasn't going to add anything to my starter.
But having read this, and because it's not exactly going mad (although there only maybe 2-3grams of dried yeast to start with) I put some honey mixed with warm water in and it's perked up a bit.
The article I'd read said do that for a week before using it, then feed once a week transferring it to the fridge, topping up when I've used some.
An old Russian technique I'd read about said put dough in a bucket of cold river water. When it floats it's ready to bake YRMV
So more time between the dough being mixed in a bread machine (three hours 15mins, then folded a bit, rolled in a fat sausage and into a tin) and baking the next morning for me means it sitting in a fridge overnight in an inflated ziplock, then it sits on the side at room temperature if it hasn't quite come up enough. Plus a pizza stone and a sprinkle of boiling water on the loaf surface just before ovening.
 
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jason holdstock wrote:Since shop bought yeast is a rarity on shop shelves at the moment I currently have some from a packet of organic dried yeast doing its thing with water and wholemeal flour on the windowsill. I'd read that I should throw half of it away each day and replace it with the same volume of fresh flour and water every day for a week. I don't make bread with anything but flour water yeast and salt so wasn't going to add anything to my starter.
But having read this, and because it's not exactly going mad (although there only maybe 2-3grams of dried yeast to start with) I put some honey mixed with warm water in and it's perked up a bit.
The article I'd read said do that for a week before using it, then feed once a week transferring it to the fridge, topping up when I've used some.
An old Russian technique I'd read about said put dough in a bucket of cold river water. When it floats it's ready to bake YRMV
So more time between the dough being mixed in a bread machine (three hours 15mins, then folded a bit, rolled in a fat sausage and into a tin) and baking the next morning for me means it sitting in a fridge overnight in an inflated ziplock, then it sits on the side at room temperature if it hasn't quite come up enough. Plus a pizza stone and a sprinkle of boiling water on the loaf surface just before ovening.




I've been doing a lot of reading too.  My recipe is for a stiff starter (dough-like.)  is 3 Tbsp of flour and 2 Tbsp of water every day for 3 to 5 days.  I found a good recipe for baking Levain sourdough that calls for 1 Cup of starter.  I realized I won't have a cup of starter by day 5.  I'm like what the h.ll?

After reading some more I found that naturally fermented stiff starters are just an equal weight of water and flour mixed together.  This may seem obvious, but for me, this discovery was like an ah-ha moment, I'm so used to using recipes, not really understanding the process.    

Theoretically, I can put any weight of water and flour in the Levain mixture to 1. give me the cup of starter I need for a loaf, and 2. leave enough starter to keep it going.    This is crazy cool.




Things I have learned from a book but not experience:  1. Feed your Leavain the day before you bake,  2.  Professional bakers do everything by weight and percentages (called Baker's percentage)  3. There are four basic pillars of baking bread: flour, water, salt, and yeast.
4. Flour is the cornerstone of the pillar and always considered to be 100% in the baker's percentage. 5. The other three pillars are always a percentage of the flour weight.  6. Certain ratios of the four pillars are well known.

This is the Bakers percentage for a baguette

Flour        10.0kg 100%
Water 6.7kg 67%
Salt        0.2kg   2%
Yeast 0.11kg 1.1%

TOTAL YIELD 17.01kg 170.1%



 
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Scott Foster wrote:  

Theoretically, I can put any weight of water and flour in the Levain mixture to 1. give me the cup of starter I need for a loaf, and 2. leave enough starter to keep it going.    This is crazy cool.


YES. And if you don't bake enough to have applications for large volumes of discarded starter every day (or if you're too cheap to conscience feeding that much every day) you can scale it up or down depending. Keeping it in the fridge also slows it so you don`t have to feed as much (once it is going well, nice and strong). I "save up" the discard over a week and make something with it on the weekend, because I am a cheapskate.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote: And if you don't bake enough to have applications for large volumes of discarded starter every day (or if you're too cheap to conscience feeding that much every day) you can scale it up or down depending.



Take care not to downscale it too much.
For some time I had an instable starter that sometimes went off and developed a terrible smell and I had to start from scratch.

Now that I follow the rules in my book (which I have mentioned before) I observe two things:
1. Let the starter rise in a warm surrounding and put in the fridge before reaching its peak.
2. Keep a generous amount of starter to have a stable sourdough.

I am not afraid anymore to have excess sourdough I have to discard (which I never did actually) because now I have learned more uses for it.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:

Scott Foster wrote:  

Theoretically, I can put any weight of water and flour in the Levain mixture to 1. give me the cup of starter I need for a loaf, and 2. leave enough starter to keep it going.    This is crazy cool.


YES. And if you don't bake enough to have applications for large volumes of discarded starter every day (or if you're too cheap to conscience feeding that much every day) you can scale it up or down depending. Keeping it in the fridge also slows it so you don`t have to feed as much (once it is going well, nice and strong). I "save up" the discard over a week and make something with it on the weekend, because I am a cheapskate.



Haha, I watched a video where a professional baker removed 1/2 of his levain every morning.  He didn't throw it out though,  he sprinkled the patties with chives and fried cakes in olive oil.  Used them to eat things like hummus for lunch.
 
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that pancake is going to be my lunch today, and is usually what I use it for!!

@ Anita, good point. Mine has been going strong for a good 6 months so I can "trust it". Because it is still warm here, my starter lives in the fridge except for a day or two before I bake. I think the least I put in is about 3 tablespoons of flour, and this starter seems to do better with a bit less water (much more pasty than batter-y).
 
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Sourdough discard is awesome to add to lots of baked goods. King Arthur Flour has a great recipe for sourdough discard crackers that I have made a few times. Not sure if I'm allowed to post links here, but it is pretty easy to find on their site. They have other sourdough discard recipes as well, including a sourdough discard chocolate cake.
 
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Kimbo, you're very welcome to post links. (and I have made that recipe, if it's the one I think it is, and it is worth making!). Discarded starter also makes the most amazing cornbread.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:Kimbo, you're very welcome to post links. (and I have made that recipe, if it's the one I think it is, and it is worth making!). Discarded starter also makes the most amazing cornbread.



Sourdough discard cornbread sounds amazing!

Here is a link to their sourdough discard recipes (I think one or two are actually sourdough bread recipes, but you can probably figure it out):

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/collections/sourdough-discard-recipes
 
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I wondered wether discarding in the first week of growing a yeast is to let some sourness (?) out?
After that then I would use it.
 
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the dry active yeast is made by simply dehydrating a yeast culture. High temperatures are likely to kill yeast, so I would wager the yeast is either freeze dried (likely most efficient but costly for home producer) or could be made simply by low temperature dehydrating. I haven't done it myself yet, but I would think if you proof a packet of dry yeast as normal, then pour the liquid into a long, shallow container, like a plate, and let it sit at room temperature or slightly higher (no more than 100 degrees fahrenheit) the water would evaporate away to leave a little crust. that crust would be the new 'Active dry yeast'. would be easy enough to prove if it worked.

I might try it soon myself, actually. I know my family would be firmly against a sourdough starter (they're against me even baking bread, honestly.) so making more of the store-bought yeast, or something that tastes real similar is my only option.
 
Mike Barkley
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Sourdough cornbread is excellent. I don't use a special recipe for it. I just mix a little starter with a 50/50 mix of cornmeal & bread flour & some water & let it sit overnight. Then add the rest of the ingredients (with less than the normal amount of liquid) before cooking it.

Sourdough flour tortillas are yummy too. I probably had a recipe at one time but now I just estimate the amounts. Mix equal volumes of water & flour with a spoonful of starter & a spoonful of oil or lard (I prefer soft butter) per cup of flour. Salt to taste. Let it sit a few hours. It will be thick but runny, much like pancake batter but slightly thinner. Pour onto a hot cast iron pan or skillet. No rolling or kneading required.
 
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I'm not that fond of sourdough bread. I have made bread successfully with the yeast in the sediment left from making wine.
 
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Any decent beer will do for making bread to, not mas produced lager but plenty of craft beers are still alive.

I love reading threads on bread making, because almost without exception (and there were exceptions this time) everyone does it so differently to me!

My basic "recipe" involves putting whatever yeast I have (normally fresh blocks sometimes dried) into water with a bit of sugar and leave it to froth up. I then add flour, oil, salt and then any additions, generally up to about the same amount of potato or squash as flour. that goes into the kitchen machine and is kneaded for 10 minutes, then I leave it to rise, now I use the same amount of yeast if I use 1kg of flour as I do when I use 4kg of flour/potato so the rising time changes, from about an hour to 3-4 hours. Knock it back form into loaves, burger buns, hotdog buns, "normal" buns, and bake in the oven, no steam no covering just as they are.
I sometimes make flat breads as well like naan or pitta, they have slightly different ingredients and I bake them at 220C on a pizza stone.  On occasion I will run out of time or forget the dough while it's rising, then I will knock it back shove it in the fridge overnight and start again in the morning, that gives a bit of a sourdough taste but not much.

I'll also add any random items I feel like without worrying about quantity, seeds, dried tomatoes, fried onions, grated carrot. milk, yogurt or cheese it can all go in and so long as the dough has the right consistency when it goes into the oven it will all come out fine. bread is very forgiving.
 
Scott Foster
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I tried making Levain.  The recipe I used said it takes 3 to 5 days.  I was getting some bubbles but not enough activity to raise a good loaf of bread.  I read about reducing your levain by a third and continuing to feed it.  That worked.

I fried a sourdough pancake in olive oil and added some garlic chives from the garden.  Yum.   This was done with regular unbleached flour.  

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Levain
Levain
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fried sour-dough
fried sour-dough
 
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Scott Foster wrote:500g water
50g fruit (raisins or dates work very well, make sure they're organic)
27g of sugar or honey

Is it just me or does that sound like a recipe for methelglin mead?


I think fruit mead is technically melomel and herbal mead is metheglin -- I love these and wish I'd managed to buy another gallon of honey before lockdown so I could start a batch of metheglin -- but yes! Although it would need a higher honey concentration, I believe.

Glad to hear your starter/levain started bubbling and made a good pancake! If you feed it frequently and reduce it drastically when needed (using what you pour off to make something like pancakes), it should taste less sour and have good complex flavor and rise-ability. I'm gluten-free, so I made my starter with and feed it a blend of gluten-free mostly-wholegrain flours and aim for about a 100% hydration (1:1 flour:water if I understand right; I am not enough of a bread nerd to understand all the terminology or know it by heart, although I do own a banneton and a beautiful hardwood-handled lame that I used to use a couple times a week when I had an oven). If you happen to have something like kefir or water kefir on hand, you can add a little of that when you begin and the flour and water will use it like a cultural toolbox, picking from it the cultures that it likes and needs in order to do bread-y things. Maybe a splash of something like beer or mead at the same point might work the same way?

I use my starter to make a batch of stovetop gluten-free flatbreads every other day or so, and that's been a hugely positive thing lately.
 
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Beth Wilder wrote:. I'm gluten-free, so I made my starter with and feed it a blend of gluten-free mostly-wholegrain flours and aim for about a 100% hydration (1:1 flour:water if I understand right; I am not enough of a bread nerd to understand all the terminology or know it by heart.....I use my starter to make a batch of stovetop gluten-free flatbreads every other day or so, and that's been a hugely positive thing lately.




I've been reading through this thread wondering if it it is possible to use gluten-free flour to make a starter!  Thank you for this  
I gave up gluten-free bread baking many years ago bc all I ever produced were bricks.  But if I could make the equivalent of crackers or naan by using a starter, maybe I could at least try that.

(I'm doing a detox fast this week, so maybe I ought to belooking at a different thread.... LoL)
 
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