Going Wild (Daring Bakers - December '11 Challenge: Sourdough, No Helpers...)

Bread & I are BFF's. I love bread and well... it loves to stick around me (on me, to me...); but that's a whole other post.  Usually, a crock of sourdough starter can be found lurking in the recesses of my fridge.  However, bad sourdough parenting & the need for refrigerator space in the week leading up to Thanksgiving resulted in the loss of George - my mongrel sourdough that had been hanging around for about 6 months or so.

"Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!"

Anyhoo, back to my lost starter....

To be honest - the bad parenting was probably the true reason that "George" is no longer with us.  As forgiving as sourdough is, you have to at least give it a few crumbs of love.  Sorry, George...

The starters that I usually have going are generally yeast "enhanced" (we won't talk about George, right?), so when I saw this month's challenge was Sourdough from the wild, I rustled up my yeast catching gear and prepared myself to make not one, but three starters.... (Go big or go home, right?)

I was very interested to spend some time with each of the three types of flours and see how they behaved and what the end result would be.  I was curious to see which flours had the best yeast catching properties, which one would develop the best flavor, etc.   And at the end of the week, I would pick one starter to replace "George's" spot in the crock in the fridge. 

Yes, I had a starter pageant. 

Rye Sourdough
Each day I carefully tended my little charges.  Carefully weighing out each days additions of flour and water.  The rye starter ("Bob") got with the program very quickly and started to show signs on life by the first morning.  "Jim", our rice starter was a slightly distant second - it was somewhere in the second day that he started showing promise. 

And then there was "Jill".  Just like a woman - she was going to do things in her own timing.  But when she finally decided to cooperate (somewhere around day five), what a beauty she was. 

Usually, my sour dough's tend to be a bit "mongrel-y", so it was fun to see how the flours behaved in their "pure" state.  Not only did the length of time to ferment vary, the physical state also varied (the whole wheat was more "doughy", while the rye & rice flour were more "soupy").

Ultimately, all the doughs behaved as expected - all three resulting in solid loaves.  I have never worked with gluten-free yeasted doughs before, so working with the rice flour starter & resulting loave was a nice challenge.  I was expecting the rice flour loaf to be more gritty and was pleasantly surprised by the pleasing texture (it also kept better than I expected). 
Wheat Sourdough Loaf
Since this was the bread that I had the least experience with, I opted to highlight the brown rice loaf with Brazil nuts & flax seed, choosing a sour cherry preserve & Nutella tartine to play off the textures in the loaf. 

Sour Cherry & Nutella Tartine
Inspired by Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

2 slices bread 1/2 " thick
2 Tbs Nutella, melted
2 Tbs Sour Cherry preserves
Butter, for toasting

Lightly butter both sides of bread slices.  Preheat skillet over medium heat.  Toast bread in heated skillets until lightly golden on both sides.  Spread 1 tablespoon of preserves over each slice of toasted bread.  Drizzle with melted Nutella.  Enjoy!

P. S. The winner of the "starter pageant" was "Jill", the whole wheat starter.  She is now happily living in the fridge in a crock.

This post participates in The Daring Bakers


  1. RIP George!

    I've only made starters from wheat flour. Curious how other flours work.

  2. How impressive that you attempted three at the same time! And, I like your interwoven Dorie recipe.

  3. I keep getting distracted by the chocolate on the bread, yummmm.... but anyway great job doing all three! I had written off the rice flour version as what people who didn't consume wheat would try, but now I'm thinking maybe I'll go back and try it! Great job doing all three.

  4. Wow - very cool that you made all three starters. Must have been really cool to see the differences, too. You did a really awesome job on this challenge!

  5. Cher - you are a pretty adventurous dabbler! First the curing your own bacon, then the beautiful little pork buns, and now starter! This looks like you really excelled at this challenge.

  6. Great job getting all three starters going! all three loaves of bread look fantastic.

  7. Wow u tried all three..they look fantastic..well done :-)..You inspire me to try out the rye and rice versions next time :-)

  8. Wow u tried all the three..awesome..and the breads look fantastic...you have inspired me to try out Rye and Rice versions :-)

  9. Bread and chocolate... a winning combination every time... I am sorry for George's demise, but your new friends seem to be up to the task. Did you choose one to keep around, or are all three vying for the precious fridge space? I think you win no matter which you choose! Great job!

  10. I'm so impressed! Three in one month! xxx.

  11. So nice to see another DBer who tried all three sourdough breads! Your Nutella Cherry topping is so creative, and sounds delicious!

    Beautiful job on this challenge :)

  12. Wow, that's great that you did three, and they all turned out! Wish I could say the same about mine! But then again, starters are not new to you. I'm sure Jill will prove to be a nice addition.

  13. Wow, I love that you tried all three. I did the wholewheat version - without the whole wheat! Cherry and Nutella tartine sounds devine.

  14. Wow! How very high tech science-y of you! I love what you did with the challenge. And you reminded me I joined ages ago and forgot all about the Daring Bakers challenges! You did an amazing job!

  15. Wow! I have never tried sourdough before. The thought of the starter scares me a little, and I'm afraid I would be a bad parent. How fun to experiment with three different kinds!


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