At long last I have made a successful sourdough bread! After repeated failures (and I do mean repeated), the wild yeast gods have finally smiled upon my kitchen. My guess is that the weather is now much more favourable to make a sourdough starter. My previous attempts had been in the winter when the average temperature in my kitchen was about 18 degrees Celsius and the outside temperature was so ridiculously low that absolutely nothing could survive. The past week, however, has been hot and sunny and hovering around 30 degrees. The end result: sourdough bread!
I followed the recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and will once again admonish all home bakers to get a copy of this book. I also took the advice on Peter Reinhart's baking blog to use pineapple juice for the first two days of the seed culture (read the full post to find out why). Here is my seed culture. The tape indicates the initial amount in the measuring cup, and you can see how much it grew. After dishing off some extra starter on a fellow home baking enthusiast, I proceeded to make a basic sourdough loaf and a New York Deli Rye. My one mistake was leaving the dough too wet, which is why the loaves spread out more than I would have liked, but I was happy with the results of this first try. The sourdough has a nice flavour, not too strong, and the rye loaf (an onion rye) is absolutely divine. I made reubens tonight, of course.