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By xth (Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:00:12 PM EST) bread (all tags)
The Emperor Of Focaccia


After a month of stirring and putting up with the foul stench of fermenting starter, at the weekend I have succeded in making my first focaccia (and a loaf of bread) from my very own sourdough starter. It was lovely. Even better than the one made with brewer's yeast. There's something nice and fizzy about dough made with sourdough.

It was only ten or so years before I was born that my granny chucked her starter down the loo, and stopped preparing her own bread. She used to make bread on Sunday morning, and take the dough to the baker on her way to church. In church, the priest would invite everyone to pray the Lord for their daily bread (thus claiming spiritual ownership for the dough, which was baking at the oven). After mass, the kids would go and collect the bread, and then everyone would go home for lunch, carrying the bread on their head. It was common practice since the war; before then people would bake bread in their own bread oven at home.

It's a shame, because those starters have been with the families for generations, like some sort of bacterial pet. I hope I can keep my going, and pass it on to the little one when he's old enough to care.

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I'm the EOF | 33 comments (33 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
the foul stench of fermenting starter by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:34:03 PM EST
Hmmm. It shouldn't smell foul. Do you have any neighbors or relatives who have old starters?

I got starter from a friend several years ago, he got it from someone in Alaska, where it had been going since the late 1800's. It didn't survive a cross country trip in July, sadly.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:37:33 PM EST

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(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:38:25 PM EST

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The guy I got it from still has his by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 02:51:34 PM EST
But he lives in Utah.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

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(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:55:07 PM EST

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You pain me. by ni (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:50:53 PM EST
How can you omit fungi from a poll in a diary about bread? The mind boggles.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
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(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:02:15 PM EST

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Appreciated. by ni (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:31:13 PM EST
Although for sourdough bread you need both (not that I would lower myself to voting for a prokaryote). I suppose you're short on available poll entries, though.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
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??? by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:23:51 PM EST
yeast is not a fungus.  or am i missing something cool and funny?

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Bread is great food! by greyshade (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:43:12 PM EST
for your favorite pet fungus!  

"The other part of the fun is nibbling on them when they get off work." -vorheesleatherface
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Wow man! by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 05:40:05 PM EST
The walls. Look at the walls.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

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Er. by ni (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 06:21:55 PM EST
I'm not sure if it's cool or funny, but yes, yeast is a fungus.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
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I'm curious now by ni (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 06:24:31 PM EST
I think I recall you having a biology degree: What did you think yeast was?


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
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My first thought by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 06:33:53 PM EST
was to believe her since I remembered the biology degree. And I rationalised it by telling myself that fungi had to be multicellular. And even more absurdly out of my depthly, I told myself that that must mean that yeast were prokaryotes. No idea where that came from.

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What we call "yeasts" by ni (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 06:49:19 PM EST
are not a monophyletic  group -- 'yeast' is descriptive of their morphology and growth patterns and is not actually a evolutionarily distinct group of organisms. Most fungi that have yeast-like growth patterns also have mycelial growth states which are cellular. Now, S. cerevisiae and a few others have basically lost their mycelial state, but they're exceptional among yeasts: most have multicelluar stages.

And yeah, as I guess you found out, yeasts are eukaryoktes. They are more closely related to animals than plants are, in fact.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

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the thing about starters by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:22:34 PM EST
sourdough gets the flavor from the bacteria, not the yeast.  over time the bacteria becomes the local variety, not the stuff you started out with (from Alaska, San Fran, etc).

still, it sucks that YOU KILLED one that was so old.

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Yeah. I know. I made bread weekly with it. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 05:41:12 PM EST
Or cake. But something since it had to be fed, and used.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

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Cool by gpig (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 12:55:54 PM EST
If you're interested in acquiring some different starters you could see if there are bread-making classes in your area. A friend of mine in Edinburgh went to some of these and she said that the tutor there had some really old starters (with accompanying stories) and ones from around the world. While she was there he got out a Russian one that had been in the freezer for 15 years, and made a loaf from it.
---
(,   ,') -- eep
(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:03:25 PM EST

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Is old starter by garlic (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:32:47 PM EST
legitimately connected to it's past? Or is that something we just like to tell ourselves?


(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:41:49 PM EST

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The connection by garlic (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 04:36:52 PM EST
my brain remembers portions of my past -- so there is a connection. Is there any significant memory, any significant substance in a starter that remembers its past?

If so, you should be able to take a starter from San Francisco, the sourdough capital of the US elsewhere, and still be able to tell it from a starter from that elsewhere after a few generations. This seems pretty unlikely to me.


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(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 04:51:14 PM EST

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In a sense by gzt (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 02:47:29 PM EST
I mean, starters from different areas or lines will have different bacterial compositions and different behaviors. It might not be the same as it was 100 yrs ago, but it will be different from your neighbor's, too.

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But that composition gets diluted by garlic (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 04:39:04 PM EST
Supposedly San Francisco's natural yeast makes better sour dough than elsewhere in the US. If you get a starter from SF, and bring it to chicago, I can't imagine after more than a few generations, the local yeasts will have taken over from the imported SF yeasts.


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it's a different lactobacillus by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 05:55:39 PM EST
that has a distinctive flavor.  it seems to grow  natively in SF, but not anywhere else.

oh, it's not the yeast, it's the bacteria.

but your point is correct.

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My poll selection was based on by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 02:45:37 PM EST
not previously knowing that leopards were poets. Now I must go to Africa and join in a mashup on the veldt...

(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:53:26 PM EST

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Fred's first birthday will be soon by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:27:38 PM EST
we started Fred last June.  He's quite tasty, although his fermenting power is pretty weak.  He's been out of the fridge for a week now; I'm hoping to find the time to make a loaf sometime this week.  we usually use him to make overnight pancakes (SO TASTY!), and sometimes I cheat and add him to bread machine dough for a bit of flavor enhancement.

which reminds me, i need to feed him....

(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 03:34:08 PM EST

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the bread bible is your friend by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 05:56:07 PM EST
the one by beth hensberger.

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(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 06:01:47 PM EST

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That's got to be by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #33 Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:24:11 AM EST
One of the bestest family heirlooms I've ever heard of.

Top work xth!


I'm the EOF | 33 comments (33 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback