I was visiting my grandchildren in Santa Cruz yesterday. I have been teaching their parents (my son and his wife) to bake bread and got them a grinder and a Bosch and 50 pounds of Montana Prairie Gold wheat and SAF yeast. They've been baking a couple times a week and loving it - and say they all feel healthier too :)
But yesterday, my son told me he has this ancient sourdough starter that someone gave him - and he needed to get rid of half of it so sent me home with some. He left me with the impression that people have been dividing and feeding this same starter from generation to generation for hundreds of years :)
Of course it is the Carl's 1847 which I'd never heard of but spent some time googling. From what I read - I am under the impression that it is mild and not as sour as other starters. And that it's pretty easy to use and resilient. And the starter didn't have much of a smell from what I could tell (they had it in the fridge) - and I like my sourdough as sour as I can get it (Google told me King Arthur classic starter might be for me).
I pretty quickly got overwhelmed with information and was getting confused (three step process - what's that?) ... so I decided to just wing it (this is my typical style to learn anything new) .... so I put the starter in a warm place overnight and this morning it was all bubbly. I fed it warm water and flour and a little sugar (was the sugar a mistake?) and let it continue to bubble for several hours. Then I split it in half and put half in the fridge and with the other half I made a wet batter with a small potato mashed up and the water I boiled the potato in and some King Arthur bread flour. I let that sit in a warm place --- and meanwhile I ground some Prairie Gold wheat (very fine) and screened out all the bran. Then I made a bread dough (everything I normally do except no yeast) with the flour, water, salt, malt, milk powder, brown sugar and a little Bragg's apple cider vinegar. And kneaded it in the machine and then let it rest.
Then I took the bubbling sourdough batter and the wheat dough and kneaded them together and did a number of Stretch/Folds and let rest. (Now I have no idea what I'm doing here - I'm just making this up as I go). And finally the dough has a really strong smell very much like the sourdough I normally buy at the store (I'm in the SF Bay area and Safeway bakery is pretty decent sourdough - but I'm no connoisseur, haha) . So I'm starting to get hopeful that this might actually turn out.
I don't know much about the history of the starter (not sure how recently my son had put it in the fridge or when he fed it last etc.) .... but it's been about 24 hours since I first started waking it up in a warm oven (light on) ... and it's been bubbling quite well. I'm not really set up (yet) to do it free form on a stone --- so I shaped it into a loaf and put it in a loaf pan and it's rising - slower than my yeast bread, but faster than I expected. (I only made one small loaf - haha - with about a cup of starter, so it's pretty strong on the starter to dough ratio).
At the rate it's rising, I'm thinking I could heat up the oven and bake it tonight --- or I could put it in the fridge overnight and warm it up tomorrow. Not really sure what I ought to do at this point. (note: while I was typing this, it's been rising and it's already doubled in the loaf pan)
I've read a few posts here where people said three day process. And I've read that rye (don't have any) would help me get a more sour flavor -- but the smell (and my hands still have that smell, long after handling the dough and washing several times) is pretty strong with just the kind of sourdough I was hoping for.
I'm just rambling now ... sorry ... but any suggestions are welcome. Even if you just want to laugh at my haphazard experiment, that's OK too!
Thanks in advance!