Making Sourdough Starter & The Story of Thanos

These days I am into making sourdough. For those who are not familiar with the process, the concept is surprisingly simple though the execution is more like an art than science. Whenever I feed my sourdough starter at night, I would imagine myself being Thanos. Hang in there. I will explain.

Today’s breakfast was omelet and sourdough with butter.

Sourdough Starter, What?!

Unlike making bread that uses industrial yeast, sourdough uses wild yeast. You can read more on the benefits of sourdough and the difference between yeast and mold through a Google search. Meanwhile, just take my words for now. Sourdough is a healthier option than bread. And yeast is not the same as mold.

To create wild yeast, you can ferment flour by adding an equal amount of water (by weight). Yeast and bacteria that occur naturally in flour (again, take my words and hence, don’t eat raw flour) and the environment around us. That mixture is called sourdough starter. There is an excellent article written on how to create one.

Every day, the sourdough starter that you cultivate would consume the flour and water you feed it with, grow in size, and fall back to the original size once it becomes hungry again. Each day, you feed your sourdough starter with more flour and water.

The rubber band shows the original size of sourdough starter before it grows as I feed it with flour and water.

Unless you bake every day, your sourdough starter would grow exponentially. Because as you add more flour and water each day, the population of wild yeast and bacteria will explode requiring double of what you feed the day before.

Unless …

… unless you do a Thanos on your sourdough starter. You discard half of them, into the bin or into the toilet. The portion that left behind, you feed them with the same amount of flour and water as yesterday.

In short, during each feeding interval, you wipe off half of the wild yeast and bacteria population randomly. The remaining part gets to live for another day. The part that doesn’t, vanishes from the kitchen and into oblivion.

Just like Thanos in the Avenger movie.

I made this sourdough with my own hands! Imagine, say, the first batch of viable wild yeast appeared on day 2. Since I baked this on day 12, only 0.1% of the original wild yeast survived as I discard half of the sourdough starter every day!

Baking Sourdough

I was so excited about my first sourdough so much so that I have stayed next to the oven throughout the entire one hour of baking. Making sourdough is a labor of love, for sure.

Mixing the ingredients is straightforward. No kneading is required. I followed a recipe that uses a sourdough starter (my creation muhahaha), warm water, olive oil, bread flour, and salt. Because wild yeast works so much slower than industrial yeast, the mixture took six hours to rise to a point that I could bake it. Each hour, I folded the mixture and left it alone for another hour. Each hour I observed its size and made a decision if I shall bake it or leave it alone for another hour.

How long does the whole process take?

It takes 12 hours after feeding the sourdough starter for it to attain its most active state. It takes 1 hour for autolyze to take place before rolling the mixture into a ball and another 5 hours to rise with folding to be done in an hourly interval. It takes 1 hour to bake and another hour to cool down.

Morale of the story? Do plan ahead when making sourdough.

I have been feeding you for 10 days. Thanks for making my sourdough rises. Time to go to the oven!

Was It A Success?

When I shared my sourdough making adventure with my friends and family, the first question would be, how does it taste?

Consider the fact that this is the first time I have done any baking, I would say the result is pretty decent. The texture seems right. It has this unique tangy sourdough taste. It isn’t too dry even though I have left it overnight covered with clothes. I am not a sourdough expert. But I am happy with the result.

In retrospect, I wish the sourdough starter could double in size every day instead of just expands for 20% in volume. I wish the sourdough could double in size during rising, although I must say, it was pretty close. I could make the top cut a bit deeper and perhaps, the sourdough may look prettier after baked. I may bake it a little bit longer and crack open the oven door toward the last 10 minutes of baking.

So, the sourdough starter is indeed active. It is just that for some reasons unknown to me, it doesn’t double its volume when it becomes most active in between the daily feed.

To that, I have decided to change the flour origin and give it another shot.

Stay tuned.

Look at the bubbles. My sourdough starter is indeed active!