Friday, March 9, 2012

Sourdough Barm

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I started a quilt class with my mom this past weekend.  She is an avid quilter and this class was her Christmas gift from my husband and I (not that he is quilting anything, mind you).  I don't know a dang thing about putting a quilt together and creating something useful but then again, I didn't know anything about lead climbing 2 weeks ago when I took a nice 12 foot whipper off the wall for fun during THAT class.  But I do know that I love my mom, and she will see me through.

Sourdough starter is one of those things that I think some people avoid trying because it seems too hard, too time consuming, and too confusing to try.  Probably much like quilting, sourdough starter is an exercise in patience, but not difficult, terribly time consuming, or expensive and what you create with it is absolute bliss.  Not much beats warm sourdough bread straight from the oven smothered in melty butter or goat cheese.

If you read about sourdough starter, there are a million recipes, a million ways to do it.  Many people find it more useful to have a firm starter (easier to store, easier to transport etc), I have never had much luck with a firm starter.  I prefer a barm which is more liquid.  Barms are stronger in flavor compared to the firmer starters.  What we are trying to do is to grow a combination of the wild yeast Saccharomyces exiguus and various lactobacillus (bacteria).

Honey is used to feed the yeast.  Wild yeast live on the outside of gapes and consequently on the outside of raisins.  The raisin water will infuse the barm with yeast, helping to get the starter going.  Regular water will work fine if you prefer.  Also, the byproduct of yeast is carbon dioxide, so it is not wise to place a firm lid on the starter, it might explode all over your kitchen.

Sourdough Barm adapted from Crust and Crumb
Day 1:
2 cups water
1 cup raisins (organic if you can find them)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon honey

Heat water in microwave for about a minute or until warm to the touch but not boiling.  Add in raisins.  Soak for 15 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the raisin water to a large glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum or plastic).  Add in whole wheat flour and honey.  Stir to combine.  Mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave out on your counter overnight.

Stick with me for the next several days and by the end of a week, you should have a viable, stinky barm on your counter ready for action.

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