*June 20, 2012, update : Becacine is in the freezer, well and hibernating for the time being, until I am ready to use her services again. Here in China, at the beginning of 2011, after coming from Mexico with her in a small plastic bag, I woke her up and did few breads with her. But the temperature and the air are not very suitable for her health so she is back in the freezer, frozen until further use. Last time I checked, Becacine was very well, had a nice white color and ok.
The picture of the bread above, was done last July. This sourdough bread I made was done so by following the guidance of this gentleman Joe Jaworski.
OK, I have started back from scratch, my homemade starter for making bread.
Yesterday, April 30, was day 1. I started my ‘Becacine’ at 2hpm.
100g of bottled water
100 g of white flour (I live in Mexico, in the mountain, I take what I have around me)
Today day 2, May 01, 2pm, 24 hours later :
I can see some action here : bubbles and a smell of sour just a bit. I removed all the mix but 75g of starter and add to it : 75g of water and 75g of white flour. Let it go for another 12 hours.
Tonight, May 01, at 9h30pm, 7.5hrs later:
The starter has doubled in size, and is full of bubbles. A very nice smell of sour comes out of the jar. It will have to wait tomorrow morning, at around 8ham, to feed it again, as I won’t do it in the middle of the night.
See the green line on the jar? The starter has doubled in size.
Day 3, May 02, 8ham:
Becacine survived her first night…, there is hope for me in giving birth to this ‘water+flour=starter’. So up I go to feed the child to be : removed all the mix and kept only 75g of this glue mix, add 75g of lukewarm water (bottle) and 75g of white flour. Mixed it all together and returned on the shelf. Let ferment for another 12 hours and see where I stand after.
This process reminds me of the toy that was on the market many years ago, during christmas time, where I got two of those noisy little chain toys and it has to be fed and taking care at any moment of the day. If not taking care of, it would make a very high noise to tell the child to feed it and so on… very annoying. And if no taking of, it would passed away… (I ended up in removing the battery at the back of those toys without the children knowing about it).
A starter needs to be fed every 12 hours or so to be kept alive… a true child. This is the reason most of the bakers have given a real name to their ‘starter’. This is something that they take seriously!
Day 3, May 02, 10hpm:
No rise this time but formation of ‘hooch’ :
(The ‘hooch’ is just the liquid byproduct of metabolism of the organisms and when it accumulates, you know that soon you need to get your little critters out and feed them. But it doesn’t have anything to do with the sourness of your finished loaf of bread.) So the starter is progressing and still alive. Lets feed it again and wait for another 12 hours.
Day 4, May 03, 10ham:
Still formation of the ‘hooch’ this morning, progressing and hungry. Very nice smell coming out of the starter, a kind of sour and sweet at the same time. Lets feed it and wait another 12 hours.
Day 4, May 03, 10hpm:
Almost no activity after 12 hours, but to no despair (reading this site is helping me to focus on ‘Believe’) I see a tiny bubble there, the starter is still alive, just kind of digesting the feeding. After all, this is a brand new baby, I have to give it love, tenderness and patience! Lets feed it and put it back to bed. Sweet dream baby Becacine.
Day 5, May 04, 10ham
This morning, the starter has almost double in size, overnight, after another 12 hours of resting with a full tummy. The tiny bubble yesterday night developed in size and fluffiness. Now, anywhere between day 5 and day 7, while continuing to feed this hungry baby, the starter will double in size within 8 hours and right then, it will be ready to use to bake breads. So feeding as usual this morning, and let it sit for another 12 hours. See you tonight at 10hpm!
May 04, at 1h30pm update
Well the starter has already double in size. Becacine is alive and ready to bake some wonderful breads.
How to maintain a starter now, where I will be spending the next few hours to read and read and read.
And because I am who I am, I have already put some aside to dry out and put it in the freezer, just in case something drastic happen to my already very well alive starter. Here a site that explains it all.
Update : back from a vacation of one month
Becacine is alive and well. I left for an entire month on vacation. I fed Becacine the day before leaving and put it in the fridge, closed lid. Today Saturday, exactly 7 days after I got to feed again, she is strong and back to life. I did 75g-75g-75g of feeding once a day for 6 days this week, throwing out everything. I kept on smelling Becacine and she told me by itself when it was the time to be fed and when it was the time to wait a bit because her digestive system was still recuperating. So there is no magic here. Back to baking now.
Another starter I am keeping alive is this one, made with a different method of forming a hard ball and letting it grown by itself. Interesting method and it did go faster than when I was making ‘Becacine’. This starter has been alive since May 15 and its name is ‘Manuel’. The smell and flavor is different, more nutty and the sour taste deeper somehow. I was able to keep them both alive during my month of vacation.
Now I have the ‘Sourdough husband and wife’.
Notes for myself, as I go along with my Becacine:
‘…I treat the starter like the mother or chef and if I am going to be needing a larger amount I simply build what I need. I keep such a small amount so I can remove a Tablespoon or so and use it to inoculate a mix of flour and water as large as I need. So, if I need 300 grams of sour rye for example, I add 50 grams of starter to 125 grams of rye and 125 grams of water the day before. The next day I have 300 grams of sour rye for my deli rye bread…’
‘…I keep a “barm” starter a la Peter Reinhart that I use for much of my baking. I feed it once a week, to keep it alive and happy. For feeding, I just use a 1:1:1 ratio of barm to water to bread flour. It will usually be 2 oz. of each. That way, when I want to bake bread, I just pull a little bit out of this refrigerator “stock”, and make whatever starter I need for the specific bread I’m making (sometimes a wet one, sometimes a stiff one).
When I feed my barm, I just pull it right out of the fridge, mix in the flour and water (at room temp) very vigorously, and let it double in size at room temp – this usually takes about 6-7 hours in my apartment on a semi-warm day. Then I pop it back in the fridge to wait until next week.
If I want to bake, I usually mix up the starter at night, and let it go overnight on my dining room table to bake in the morning…’