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brd-mk-sour-msg - 3/20/08


Period sourdough bread recipes and re-creations. Useful breadmaking hints.

Referances. Sourdough starter sources.


NOTE: See also these files: bread-msg, BNYeast-art, yeasts-msg, breadmaking-msg,  flour-msg, trenchers-msg, bread-stuffed-msg, pretzels-msg, wafers-msg, brd-mk-flat-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 10:20:28 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: White, Dafair, Flour & Semolina


At 9:46 AM -0400 11/4/97, Philip & Susan Troy wrote:

>'Fraid I've never heard of Dafair.


The recipe from the _Miscellany_ is:

- ---

The Making of Dafir, Braids

Andalusian, p. A-25


Take what you will of white flour or of semolina, which is better in these

things. Moisten it with hot water after sifting, and knead well, after

adding some fine flour, leavening, and salt. Moisten it again and again

until it has middling consistency. Then break into it, for each ratl of

semolina, five eggs and a dirham of saffron, and beat all this very well,

and put the dough in a dish, cover it and leave it to rise, and the way to

tell when this is done is what was mentioned before [it holds an

indentation]. When it has risen, clean a frying pan and fill it with fresh

oil, then put it on the fire. When it starts to boil, make braids of the

leavened dough like hair-braids, of a handspan or less in size. Coat them

with oil and throw them in the oil and fry them until they brown. When

their cooking is done, arrange them on an earthenware plate and pour over

them skimmed honey spiced with pepper, cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, and

lavender. Sprinkle it with ground sugar and present it, God willing. This

same way you make isfunj, except that the dough for the isfunj will be

rather light. Leave out the saffron, make it into balls and fry them in

that shape, God willing. And if you wish stuffed dafir or isfunj, stuff

them with a filling of almonds and sugar, as indicated for making qhiriyt.

- --

Note: the recipe calls for a dirham of saffron = 3.8 grams, which is an

incredible amount of saffron.  If this is a scribal error for a danaq, it

would be .6 grams.


dough                                                             sauce

1 lb semolina = 2 3/8 c   3 eggs 1 c honey

1 c water     .6 gram saffron (see note)       1/2 t pepper

1 1/2 c flour       ~1 T oil to brush on       1 t cinnamon

leavening:  1 c sourdough starter       oil for frying      1 T lavender

1 t salt             1 1/2 t sugar to sprinkle on


Add water to semolina 1/8 c at a time, mixing, until all of semolina is

barely moistened.  Add sourdough, 3/4 c flour, and salt, and knead until it

is a smooth elastic dough. Crush saffron into 2 t water; add it and eggs to

dough and knead in. The dough being too soppy for braiding, add another 3/4

c flour.  Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour and a

half.  While the dough rises make the sauce:  grind the lavender and add to

the honey with pepper and cinnamon; boil honey and spices about 10 minutes

on medium heat.  Flour a cutting board, take small lumps of dough (about 2

tablespoons), roll into 6" strings, and braid three together into braids 6"

long. Let rise half an hour.  Heat about 1/2" of oil in a frying pan at

medium high heat (to 275 with a candy thermometer) and fry the braids a

few at a time, so that there is room to turn them over as they fry, until

puffed up and light brown on both sides: about 2-3 minutes total. According

to the recipe they should be brushed with oil before frying, but I could

not see any difference between the ones I brushed and those I did not.

Drain braids on paper towels, put on a plate, drizzle with the sauce and

sprinkle with a little sugar.  Makes 15 braids.





Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 09:28:00 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Greetings!



>anyone know how to make sourdough or clarified butter? I have two

>bread recipes, and one calls for ghee and another one calls for

>sourdough. Merci beaucoup!


>Isabelle de Foix

>College of Misty Mere

>Kingdom of Meridies


Basic Sourdough Starter


2 Cups warm Water (105 - 110 degrees F)

pinch of sugar

1 pkg dry active yeast (1 rounded teaspoon, 7 g.)

2 Cups flour


Take a bowl capable of handling 3 qts or more.

Pour the water into the bowl

Dissolve the pinch of sugar in the water

Dissolve the yeast in the water.  Let stand for about 15 minutes, the

yeast should activate, start bubbling to the surface and make the

solution look creamy.

Stir in the flour.  Scrap the flour from the sides of the bowl and blend

it into the mixture.


Loosely cover the bowl with a piece of cheescloth.  This keeps the bugs

out, but lets the wild yeast in.

Put the bowl in a warm location.  80 degrees F is preferred, but 70

degrees F will work.

Each day for the next four days, add 1/2 cup warm water (105 -110

degrees F) and 1/2 cup flour.  Stir in thoroughly.

After four days, put the starter in a container that can be sealed and

refrigerate it.

Once a week, add equal amounts of water and flour to the mixture (about

1/2 cup of each should do it)

Replace the starter as used with eqaul amounts of water and flour




It takes about 1 cup of starter to replace the yeast in a standard bread


You don't need to use the sugar, but I find it helps the yeast.

While the starter sours, your kitchen (and possibly your house) will

smell like a barroom that doesn't swamp the floors.

If there are any bugs in the house, the fermentation will attract them.

I recommend two layers of cheesecloth with enough excess to tape it to

the sides of the bowl.  I use masking tape for easy clean up.


There is no guarantee that the starter will sour properly. Even

commercial starters fail.  However, North America is blessed with a lot

of wild yeast that makes good sourdough bread (much to the brewers'






Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 21:29:16 -0800From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>Subject: Re: SC - Bread Making From PlatinaMurkial af Maun /Christi Redeker posted Platina's bread recipe and asked>Could someone out there (bakers beware) help me in redacting this recipe.Here is our version out of the _Miscellany_:On BreadPlatina pp. 13-14 (Book 1)... Therefore I recommend to anyone who is a baker that he use flour fromwheat meal, well ground and then passed through a fine seive to sift it;then put it in a bread pan with warm water, to which has been added salt,after the manner of the people of Ferrari in Italy. After adding the rightamount of leaven, keep it in a damp place if you can and let it rise. ...The bread should be well baked in an oven, and not on the same day; breadfrom fresh flour is most nourishing of all, and should be baked slowly.[end of original]1 1/2 c sourdough2 1/4 c warm water1 T salt1 c whole wheat flour5 3/4 c white flour: 5 1/4 c at first, 1/2 c laterPut sourdough in a bowl. Add warm (not hot!) water and salt, mix. Add wholewheat flour, then white, 1 or 2 c at a time, first stirring in with awooden spoon and then kneading it in. Cover with a wet towel, set aside.Let rise overnight (16-20 hours). Turn out on a floured board, shape intotwo or three round loaves, working in another 1/2 c or so of flour. Letrise again in a warm place for an hour. Bake at 350 about 50 minutes.Makes 2 loaves, about 8" across, 3"-4" thick, about 1.5 lb, or threesmaller loaves.More recently, I have had it work with just a 4-hour rising in a warm place(I had meant to get the dough started the night before, but did not get toit). Elizabeth/Betty Cook



Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 11:24:53 -0600

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Bread Making from Platina OT (Sour Starter)


>Elizabeth wrote:


>>By the way, if you do not know anyone with a sourdough starter, we can

>>bring you some of ours when we come out for the Known World Arts and

>>Sciences event, if that is not too late.


>>Elizabeth/Betty Cook


>I do not have any, but I am sure that people around here do.  But I

>would be glad to accept anything from your kitchen.




If you have some time at home, it is quite eeasy to make your own sourdough

starter. Although I reccomend that you start from scratch, it is easier to

use (purchased) bread yeast. The trouble with purchased bread yeast is it's

propensity to take over and conquer all...in other words, you may never get

"sour" dough.


I have a colonial recipe for "Salt Rising Dough", the version *without*

potato water in it. Curiously, there's not too much salt in it. Although the

source not to hand at the moment, the gist of it goes like this (I do this

by heart several times a year---my husband likes his sourbread really sour!):


Take a 2-qt jug (non-reactive) and quarter-fill it with water that is warm

to the touch. Add 1/4 cup sugar, honey or other sweetner, 1 tsp. salt, 1

tbsp sour cream, unflavored active culture yoghurt, or buttermilk, and

enough flour to make it as thick as pancake batter (griddle cakes, thick

crepes, crempog or crumpets to you non-yanks). If you are feeling lazy, now

is the time to add your bread yeast, but you have been warned! All you may

get is a big jug of active commercial bread yeast! Loosely cover the jug

(very loosely), and place it in a large stockpot with a few inches of warm

water in it. Cover the pot and leave overnight in a warm place (I like to

leave it just over the pilot-light of my gas stove). The next morning, there

should be bubbles from fermentation and the starter should have "risen" up

the sides of the jug. Sometimes. If the weather does not cooperate or you

don't have the right kitchen gremlins, etc., it may be necessary to remove

the jug, add more sugar/flour (it may have seperated, which mean you don't

have the right gremlins in it yet---that's OK, we can fix it) and let it sit

on the counter loosely covered until fermentation takes place. If you do

this over the course of a week, feeding it every day or every other day,

adding water as needed,it will get very sour---the way we like it. The

natural yeast has a cycle of flavors--if you catch it at it's sourest, the

next time you use it it will noticeably milder.


Once soured, keep it in the refrigerator, feed it once in a while, and use

it frequently---like every week or more. After a while, if you get sick of

the starter, feed it, put it in a pretty container, and give it away to (not

very good) friends, calling it Amish Friendship Bread (groan). Tell them how

to take care of it and also tell them you never want to see it again---in

any re-incarnation.


To bake with it: Take at least half the starter, well mixed from the jug,

and make your basic dough with it, using the starter as part of the liquid

(do not add bread yeast to the dough). Allow to rise for a long

period---overnight if necessary. My Sourdough loaves tend to rise in a

less-round shape than bread-yeast doughs. This means your loaf may have very

square top corners. Feed and water the other half of your starter, and put

it on the counter until sour again, and then use or refrigerate. Because of

the long rise, I use a one-rise method, but it is possible to have a 2-rise

if you have patience. In this case you may want to rise in the oven, barely

warmed on the lowest setting, with a pan of warm water to speed the process.


Have fun--and do not under any circumstance tightly seal the starter. It

will eventually explode!





Date: Thu, 05 Feb 1998 17:15:18 -0800

From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Bread Making from Platina OT (Sour Starter)


> Wow! How wonderful of you. Thank you thank you thank you. I've always

> wanted a recipe for sourdough starter. Thank you. AN one more thing-

> Thank you!

> Angelique


I seem to have resubscribed at the end of a conversation I would have

liked to have seen. ;) Ah, well-- this will be long.


It's not that hard to make your own sourdough starter. All it takes is a

little goo-- flour and water. If your kitchen has had a lot of bread

baking in it, yeast will find the food source and start in on the feast.

Otherwise, prime the mixture with a little bit of commercial yeast.


Basically, a sourdough starter can be quick-chugged in about a week of

daily routine: toss about half out, feed by adding water and flour back

up to the original quantity, stir and ignore for twenty-four hours. The

more often the yeast has to work the sourer the taste. I've heard that a

good sourdough culture from scratch needs about a year of steady weekly

use to really get sour, but I didn't find that was the case with mine.


My starter is about three years old and either gets used on a weekly

basis, or is ignored for about a month. I merely pour off the hootch,

(which is the alcohol yeast excretes) feed the night before, and go on

with my recipe. I have even rescued my starter from scraps in a bowl

when my overzealous husband dumped it down the drain. As long as you

have a little of your starter alive, you can easily feed it back up to

full strength and any quantity your recipe calls for.


I've been fooling around with bread baking for a couple of years now. Up

until today, all of the sourdough breads I'd tried came out, well,

pretty durn rock-like. Not my idea of bread. I followed this recipe and

procedure over the last few days, and to my delighted amazement took two

loaves of bread outta the oven this afternoon that have almost the

lightness of commercial bread. Almost. ;)


Wanna try it? Remember, this is procedure, not just a recipe-- and I

make no representations as to its period-ness as I simply do not know

enough about period breads to make that kind of judgment. However, I've

found over a couple of years of experimentation with bread that certain

ingredients cause certain characteristics, hence the particular

ingredients I've used. I'll explain the characteristics within the



Ciorstan's Arf-n-Arf Spelt Bread (though whole wheat will do)


Read all the way through before you start.


Day 1: Kickstart your sourdough by priming it with enough flour and

water to make about four cups total. Ignore it for a day, but put it

back in the fridge to bubble ominously. The cold temperature keeps the

yeast from processing into alcohol death too soon.


Day 2: In a large bowl, mix together:


3 cups of starter (put the rest back in its jar in the fridge to ignore

until next project)

1/4 cup melted butter, left to cool to room temperature

1 cup of white flour

3 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. milk, room temperature


Mix together. Add slowly:


3 c. spelt flour (or whole wheat)

2 to 2 1/2 c. white flour


Knead in the last cup to 1/2 cup of white flour, until the dough has

that particular silky smooth feeling of well-kneaded bread. Since I'm a

mom, I describe it as 'baby's butt'! It should be a little slack/sticky,

but not much. Put it into a large bowl, cover with a damp cloth and

ignore overnight, if your kitchen is really cold. Otherwise, about three

hours at 85 degrees. Sourdough yeast functions best at 85-- any colder

and it acts slower, any warmer and it will probably start to die. The

damp cloth serves to keep the bread dough from forming a crust on top

due to drying out. Don't use a paper towel-- they don't stay damp very



Day 3: Punch down, knead. Shape into two loaves, put loaves into greased

pans (I also use corn meal for 'mold release'). Let rise in its 'proof'

stage under a damp cloth, about 2 to 3 hours in a cold kitchen, probably

about 45 minutes at 85 degrees.


Bake, one loaf at a time for perfect crust, at 375 for 45 minutes (my

two loaves weren't the same size, so I put the larger one in first and

by the time the first one came out, the second had risen to match the

first one's size). Cool on a rack until the loaf stops steaming-- if you

cut into it too soon, the steam will collapse the loaf. Usually baking

two loaves of this size at a time will cause the loaves to heat

unevenly, making the crust crack parallel along the top of the pan.

Also, I noticed that the crust crazed a little as the loaf cooled, so

probably a healthy slash or two across the top like the fancy bakeries

would be in order before baking.


This is *really* good bread-- just a little sour, with a delicate light

texture and loft due to the milk, and nice golden crust due to the

butter. The salt acts as a yeast enhancer. I particularly like spelt

flour over whole wheat, because it isn't bitter like whole wheat (health

food stores have it, so does the King Arthur Flour Catalog). Next time

I'm going to try an all spelt loaf for a more period bread. The interior

of the loaf is a light golden brown in color. Spelt is an older

step-uncle of the current forms of wheat grown commercially these days,

and has been cultivated for some 5,000 years. From a mom's point of view

it's a little more nutritious than regular wheat-- but more to the

point, I like the taste.


Incidentally, if you're impatient, you can combine day 1 and day 2 if

your starter is reasonably active. You want to be within 24 hours of its

last feeding for ideal sourness. And if you really want *sour* bread,

add a little citric acid-- it's a common ingredient in commercial

sourdough breads these days.





Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 23:58:52 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - More Sourdough Woes


> But...

> It wasn't Sourdough! It wasn't sour and it wasn't chewy!


> Renata


There is never any guarantee with sourdough.


First, did you use a commercial starter or create a starter using commercial

yeast?  If so, it may take some time for the starter to sour.


Second, did you use sugar, honey, etc. in the bread?  This can temper the

sour flavor.


Third, did you boost the dough with yeast to improve the rise?  The faster

the bread rises, the less time it has to sour properly.



Things you may wish to try:


Leave the container of starter covered on the counter. Feed it every eight

to twelve hours.  Bake a loaf a day for a while.  This accelerates the yeast

growth and should increase the sourness of the starter.


Make your dough as directed, except do not add yeast if directed.  Use two

rises.  Let the dough rise the first time until it slumps. Turn the dough

out on a floured board and knead, adding flour slowly until the dough is no

longer sticky and is again smooth and elastic.  Shape your loaves and allow

to rise until doubled.  Bake as directed (I use 425 F for 40 to 45 minutes).





Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 07:38:34 +0200 (MET DST)

From: Par Leijonhufvud <parlei at algonet.se>

Subject: RE: SC - More Sourdough Woes


On Tue, 7 Jul 1998, Decker, Terry D. wrote:

> > It wasn't Sourdough! It wasn't sour and it wasn't chewy!


> There is never any guarantee with sourdough.

> Make your dough as directed, except do not add yeast if directed.  Use two

> rises.  Let the dough rise the first time until it slumps.  Turn the dough


Other suggestions:


How long did you let the dough rise the first time? I generally let it

doa first rise ON (overnight, lab shorthand), and then a second one in

the morning. I've actually gotten a "sour" loaf this way with plain

yeast, allowed to do a first rise ON or even for a full 24 hours.



(spelled UlfR, pronounced with a fricative R)



Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 17:39:46 +0200 (MET DST)

From: Par Leijonhufvud <parlei at algonet.se>

Subject: Re: SC - More Sourdough Woes


On Wed, 8 Jul 1998 THLRenata at aol.com wrote:

> On the question of ON rising -- will it stop rising at a certain point if left

> unattended? I usually let my bread rise in the oven with only the pilot light

> going -- will this work for ON, or should I leave the bread rising on the

> counter?


Leave it on the counter. Oven rising is to improve the speed, which is

not an issue here. You want it to rise, fall and then sit there and go



> I'm a little paranoid about leaving things unattended -- comes from having a

> chemist for a father and also from having candy take over the stovetop -- more

> than once.


I understand. I'd never leave anything like that on unattended.





Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 12:59:06 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - More Sourdough Woes


Dough rises until it reaches a point where it becomes so loose ("slack")

that it caves in on itself ("slumps"), so dough won't rise indefinitely.  A

thirteen quart bowl will handle about eight to ten pounds of dough without

it spilling over, so a four to six quart bowl should be able to handle about

three pounds of dough.  I had around four pounds in an eight quart bowl last

night and it never got close to the top.


If the dough does go slack, you can knead it again, adding more flour, so

the yeast has something on which to feed.


According to the French bakers, sourdough rises best at room temperature

(most French breads rise in a cooler these days to slow the rise, sourdough

does not) and is the slowest rising of any breads.  So, let it rise on the






Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 13:40:49 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - More Sourdough Woes


> I knew I could count on Bear, who writes (among much other sage sourdough

> advice):


> >>Leave the container of starter covered on the counter.  Feed it every

> eight to twelve hours.<<


> By feed it, do you mean with sugar, or what?


You feed a sourdough by adding flour and water.  Sieved flour weighs about 4

oz per cup.  Water weighs about 4 oz. per 1/2 cup.  When I use a cup of

starter, I replace it with a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.  When I'm

just feeding it, I put in 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.


Yeast comes to a full ferment then drops off to build back to full ferment

in cycles of about 12 hours.  When the yeast runs out of food, it goes

dormant.  By adding a little food every so often you keep the yeast active.


Warm yeast is more active than cool yeast, so a starter left on the counter

needs to be feed more often than a starter in the refrigerator.  On the

otherhand, being left on the counter keeps the starter quickly going its

lovely sour way.  I do cover it with plastic to keep out the bugs and the

mold spores.


> To answer your questions, I made the starter myself, using commercial yeast.

> The bread recipe did call for additional yeast and sugar.


Okay.  The starter should sour on its own, but it may take a few days.  I'd

leave off the additional yeast and use the longer rise. I'd try the bread

first without the sugar, then with a teaspoon or so in a couple pounds of

dough, just to test the flavors.


> I will try your suggestions, but I will not be able to bake a loaf a day

> for a while. Will this negate the whole thing?


> Renata


No, but you need to remember to feed the starter.  Mine is in a 1 1/2 quart

mixing bowl so that I can feed it a lot without having it crawl over the

side of the bowl.  I made bread this morning, so I'll feed it for a couple

of days and get it up to about a quart, so I can make bread this weekend.


With the long rise, you can time your baking to your schedule.  About 9:30

last night, I made up a bowl of dough and set it to rise. About 5:30 this

morning, I punched down kneaded and shaped my loaves. Then I showered and

dressed.  The second rise took about an hour, during which I pre-heated the

oven.  The loaves went in a 6:40 and were out at 7:20.  I turned them out to

cool and went to work.


I have also made the dough in the morning.  Shaped the loaves immediately

after returning from work.  And had fresh, hot bread with supper.  A 12 to

14 hour baking cycle is easier to fit into a busy schedule than a 5 to 6

hour cycle.





Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 10:45:37 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Herman


> Can I use it in my bread machine? Hey, I've never been a baker but I'm

> trying to learn.


> Gunthar


Since I don't use bread machines, I really can't say, but 1 cup of starter

is approximately 1/2 cup water and 1 cup of flour, so you can use that to

estimate the amounts required by a bread machine recipe. For a standard

bread recipe, a first rise will be about 4 times slower than the rise from

using dry active yeast.  Were I using a bread machine, I would make a few

loaves starting the baking manually until I got a feel for the timing of the






Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 10:47:16 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - once again bread


> But I have a question...I love making sour dough bread.....but to me it is

> never sour enough....can it be made sourer ? is that the proper way to say

> it even?

> Stacie


The best sourdoughs are produced by a symbiotic reaction between Candida

milleri, a strain of Saccharomyces exiguus, and Lactobacillus sanfrancisco.

The reaction does not occur with S. cerevisiae (regular bread yeast).


C. milleri strengthens the gluten and L. sanfrancisco improves the

fermentation of the maltose and provides the characteristic sourness.

Unfortunately, most of us are not in San Franciso where this combination is

readily available.


To make a sourdough starter, in a bowl, mix 2 cups of flour with one cup of

water.  Place the bowl on the counter and wait.  It does not matter whether

the bowl is covered or uncovered.  The water and the flour will activate a

natural amylase reaction to convert starch into sugar. The yeasts present

in the flour will use the sugar to ferment the dough and create a sourdough.


Exposing the starter to the air increases the probability of gathering wild

yeasts and lactobacilli in the starter.  None of this insures a good starter

or decent sourdough.  That is the luck of the draw.  If you have problems

with bugs, tape a couple layers of cheese cloth over the starter bowl.  If

it is sealed to the sides of the bowl, it will keep most bugs out, but let

the yeasty beasties in.


In my opinion, most recipes for sourdough starter are too complex and depend

on S. cerevisiae to boost them, which defeats the idea of wild yeast and

lactobacillus.  I am considering trying a little sour cream or buttermilk to

initially boost the lactobacilli in the starter, but this introduces other

organic compounds which may be susceptible to molds and other infections.


If you have a starter.  Try leaving it on the counter and feeding it twice a

day with 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour.  Use a big bowl, and be

ready to bake two or three times a week.  Keeping the starter on the counter

makes it more active than keeping it in the refrigerator and it needs to be

fed regularly to keep it from dying.


If the bread still isn't sour enough, try baking bread made with starter,

water, flour and salt.  Leave out the shortenings, the sweeteners, and the

yeast.  Your first rise will likely take 8 to 12 hours. Your second rise

will take 1 to 2 hours.





Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 13:34:28 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - once again bread


> > The reaction does not occur with S. cerevisiae (regular bread yeast).


> Whose name, ironically, suggests it is, or was, in fact a brewer's

> yeast, which might help account for the phenomenon.


> Adamantius


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the yeast found in ale barm. Today's baker's

yeast is a variant of S. cerevisiae, so if you use compressed yeast or dry

active yeast to leaven your bread, you are using the equivalent of ale barm.

Most, if not all, of the top fermenting brewer's yeasts are variants of S.



Just to add to the confusion, variants of S. cerevisiae have been bred to be

bottom fermenting and these are replacing the variants of S. carlsbergensis

which were previously used in beer making.


The symbiosis between C. milleri and L.sanfrancisco occurs because C.

milleri can not use maltose, but can use all of the other sugars released by

the amylase reaction.  This leaves the maltose free to be used by L.

sanfrancisco.  Additionally, C. milleri is more resistant to the acidic

environment created by the lactobacilli than many other yeasts.  This

fortuitous combination optomizes fermentation and sourness.


Apparently, S. cerevisiae is a little wimpy in high acid environments.





Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 10:19:35 -0500

From: "Robin Carroll-Mann" <harper at idt.net>

Subject: Re: SC - once again bread


Breadbaking is one of my passions, and sourdough is my newest

accomplishment.  There is a wealth of information on the subject

available at:


It has book reviews, baking tips, recipes for starters and breads,

and sources of starters.  I got my starter, for the cost of an SASE,

from a gentleman in Washington state.  It is the descendant, he

says, of one that his family brought over the Oregon Trail in 1847.

It is moderately sour, and very tolerant of neglect.  The FAQ also

discusses various commercial sources of starters.


Brighid, who really should make some more sourdough soon...



Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 21:04:29 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: SC - Austrian Sour Rye - OOP


I don't know how long they've been making this in Central Europe, but since

we can't document it, the recipe is OOP.  Caraway seeds and sesame seeds are

traditional in light ryes.


Uncut loaves stay moist a long time.  My last loaf and a half of sour rye

disappeared in a few minutes at the Annual Saturday Night OU Med Fair Feed

and it was four days old.


I did make one departure from the recipe.  The first rise was extended over a

week as I built up to a gallon and a half of starter.  It soured nicely and

produced a reasonable sour rye and an even better batter bread.




Austrian Sour Rye


First Rise


2 cups sourdough starter

3 cups wheat flour (strong bread flour preferred)

2 cups warm water


Break the starter apart in the warm water.

Stir in the flour to make a thick batter.

Cover and let rise for at least 12 hours.

Return 1 cup of the starter  to the starter jar.  Feed.


Second Rise


Proofed batter from the first rise

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons caraway seed (optional)

2 cups rye flour

4 cups wheat flour


Mix batter, water, salt and caraway seed in a bowl.

Add rye flour and mix.

Add white flour one cup at a time until the dough balls or becomes to stiff

to work by hand.

Turn out on floured surface and knead until satiny.

Divide the dough and shape two loaves.

Place in greased tins or on a greased baking sheet.

Let rise until doubled (2 to 3 hours).

Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 degrees F for approximately 55 minutes or

until done.



Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 15:37:36 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - bread


> Someone said:

> > >From experience, true sourdough rises take a long time.


> It depends on the starter you're using.  My starter will do a first rise in

> two hours.  (I'm using Carl's starter, if any of you are familiar with it.)

> And I hear that some of the cultures available from Sourdough

> International (esp. their Russian culture) are quite fast.


Your Carl's starter sounds like it has been boosted, although I have been

able to get fast rises out of scratch starter on a couple of occasions.

IIRC, Sourdough International is Ed Woods.  His recipes usually call for a

first proof of 8 hours.  The second rise is usually about 2 hours.


In any case, commercial sourdough starters are hard to come by in Oklahoma,

so I produce mine by the traditional method of mixing flour and water to

make a bigga or levain.


> > > The time can be cut by shaping the loaves and letting them go through

> > > a single rise, which may be what is described in Platina.


> I usually do two rises.  My recollection from a recent thread on

> rec.food.sourdough is that a single rise will give you a more "holey"

> texture.


> Brighid


The aeration is more ragged in single rise breads, but not objectionable so.

This is usually true whether you are doing sourdough or yeast breads.


The fact that you do two rises and I do two rises does not eliminate the

possibility that Platina's bakers used a single rise. Just as the recipes

do not eliminate the possibility that professional bakers in period may have

used a double rise, as they were obviously not written by professional

bakers and may not accurately reflect professional practices.





Date: Sat, 9 Oct 1999 07:45:26 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - bread


> And it came to pass on 29 Sep 99,, that Decker, Terry D. wrote:

> > Your Carl's starter sounds like it has been boosted, although I have been

> > able to get fast rises out of scratch starter on a couple of occasions.


> I don't know what you mean by "boosted". The starter I have is from a

> kind gentleman named Carl Griffiths, formerly a regular poster on

> rec.food.sourdough.


A boosted sourdough as you surmise is one to which yeast has been added.  I

was wondering, because the phrasing suggested "Carl's starter" was a

commercial product (which may or may not have yeast added).  From your

reply, he has a good, potent starter.


As for adding dry active yeast to the starter, it might help for a few days,

but most commercial baking yeasts do not fare well in high acid starters.


> > The fact that you do two rises and I do two rises does not eliminate the

> > possibility that Platina's bakers used a single rise.


> True.  Which would be less likely to produce a sour flavor?  Platina

> regards that as undesirable.


The sour flavor is from the lactobacilli in the dough and IIRC the souring

does not begin until the environment is anaerobic.  Since working the dough

puts air into it, I would say Platina's single long rise should have the

sourer taste, all other things being equal.


> Brighid





Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 14:00:28 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - sourdough experiment #1 alternate method


You won't get San francisco style sourdough unless you happen to have

Lactobacillus sanfrancisco in your starter.  The sourness a by-product of

the lactobacilli and its interaction with the wild yeast, usually some

variety of Candida milleri.  Lactobacillus sanfrancisco is found in the Bay

Area and works exceptionally well with C. milleri.


I make starter by preparing a 2 to 1 mixture of flour to water in a bowl,

then cover the bowl (the local area often has mold problems) and let it

stand on the counter for a few days.  The amylase reaction of the flour and

water feeds the wild yeast commonly found with the flour and produces a

starter.  In two to three days the starter will begin to bubble after which

it needs to be fed 2/1 flour/water about every 12 hours if kept it on the

counter or every 2 to 3 days if kept in a sealed container in the

refrigerator (a sealed container keeps it from drying out).  Use regularly

to keep the starter happy.


Right now, Herman (the starter I was playing with a couple years ago) is

sleeping in the freezer.  It is about time to resurect him from his

cryogenic rest and put him to work.





Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 16:29:53 -0700

From: "Browning, Susan W." <bsusan at corp.earthlink.net>

Subject: RE: SC - sourdough experiment #1 alternate method


I believe King Arthur Flour sells Lactobacillus SF.






Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:17:34 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: RE: SC - sourdough experiment #1 alternate method


The starter sponge that I use isn't the San Francisco

lactobacillus.  But it does have a strong sour taste.


My recipe is two cups of flour and one cup of flat

beer.  I usually use rye flour and, if I am fortunate,

I will use home brewed beer.  It takes about three

days to start to bubble.  I usually keep it on the

counter next to the oven.  I personally think that the

introduction of beer gives the bread a closer flavor

to breads that were baked using barm.





Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 08:38:36 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - sourdough experiment #1 alternate method


> The starter sponge that I use isn't the San Francisco

> lactobacillus.  But it does have a strong sour taste.


> My recipe is two cups of flour and one cup of flat

> beer.  I usually use rye flour and, if I am fortunate,

> I will use home brewed beer.  It takes about three

> days to start to bubble.  I usually keep it on the

> counter next to the oven.  I personally think that the

> introduction of beer gives the bread a closer flavor

> to breads that were baked using barm.


> Huette


Rather than beer, I would suggest unhopped brown ale, but let's not quibble,

I've used beer for flavoring.  A rye based starter is produced by different

strains of yeast and lactobacillus than a wheat based starter and is

generally sourer than wheat based starters.


A point to remember is that the breads made with barm are primarily a

northern European thing in period although Gothic bakers brought the

technique to Rome in the 1st Century BCE.  Most southern European bakers

used leavens.


In France, the use of ale barm was considered bad practice.  At some point

using anything other than a levain was prohibited by law and remained that

way until some time in the 19th Century, if I remember the dates, when the

prohibtion was lifted so Parisian bakers could produce some of their highly

aerated breads.


If you have a good starter, you might consider drying some of it and

wrapping it in foil to give to people who are interested in trying it.





Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 12:39:07 EDTFrom: BalthazarBlack at aol.comSubject: Re: SC - Re: Bread making Platina style (long)ChannonM at aol.com writes:> I'm hoping some of our baking types out there can give me some pointers. > First of all, I have read everything in the Florilegium on sourdough,  > bread recipes and flour (hah, beat'cha to it Stephan! ;) )Sourdough starters are pretty finnicky when they are first born.  First of all, they work better in a kitchen which has done a lot of baking in the past (the yeast organisms remain in the "air", and will speed along the souring and fermenting process when they fall on the starter).  Also, your area may not have a very strong concentration of souring bacteria, which means it will take quite a bit longer to get the process rolling.  As for the thick skin which forms on the top, I suggest stirring this back into the starter, since it will contain additional yeast and bacteria which has fallen on it from the air.  My starters usually take about 12 days to get fully soured.  And I bake almost every day!  Just let it sit and work, feeding it about every 4 or 5 days, and don't refrigerate it until it is fully soured.If you can't wait for sourdough, throw a little vinegar into it... or sour cream or buttermilk.Balthazar of Blackmoor


Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 13:36:51 -0500From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>Subject: RE: SC - Re: Bread making Platina style (long)Lets talk a little bit about what is happening when you make a starter.By combining equal weights of wheat flour and water and mixing them togetheryou start an amylase catalyzed reaction which converts the starch in theflour to sugar.  Normally there are yeasts and lactobacilli in the flour.These begin to use the sugars produced by the amylase reaction to growcolonies.When you beat the flour and water together, air is introduced into themixture.  The lactobacilli are aerobic in nature and begin to reproducefirst, when the air in the mixture is used up, the anerobic yeast (mostoften a variety of Candida milleri, which is suited to an acidicenvironment) begins to reproduce.  When the sugars are used up, the yeastbegins to die off.The fermentation process in sourdough takes about two days to form a basicstarter.  Sourdough works best between 40 and 80 degrees F. The higher thetemperature the faster the reaction and the faster the sugars are expended.When I work with starter on the countertop, I feed it about 1/2 cup flourand 1/4 cup of water (approx. equal weights) every 12 hours after the first2 days.  If you put the starter in a sealed container in the refrigerator,it needs to be fed 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water every 3 days.  Ipersonally prefer the countertop because it strengthens the flavor from theconstant change between aerobic and anaerobic environments, but it is a lotmore work.  BTW, I keep my starter covered with plastic wrap to keep moldsfrom forming.In the case you describe, you kept the starter in a warm place for 3.5 daysapparently without feeding it.  I would suspect the fermentation used up allof the sugar and the yeast began dying, so that when you made your breadthere wasn't enough yeast in the starter to leaven it properly.  The sour flavor of the bread depends upon the lactobacilli.  Just becausethe bread doesn't taste very sour does not mean you have a failure.  It justmeans the lactobacilli in your starter produce less lactic acid than someother lactobacilli.  The truly sour breads of San Francisco are that waybecause they have the overactive Lactobacillus sanfrancisco in theirstarter.  Even then, you'll find some commercial sourdough makers adultratetheir product with artificial souring agents.Unpasturized ales and beers contain Saccharomyces cerevisiae andSaccharomyces carlbergensis.  Adding these to a sourdough, is like addingdry active yeast.  In fact, baker's yeast is a variety of S. cerevisiae.Over time, they don't stand up well to the high acid environment of asourdough starter. If you use them, don't adulterate your starter withthem, add a proofing step to increase your starter, recover a couple cups ofstarter from the dough, then add your adulterants.Depending on the activity of the starter, the first rise may be anywherefrom two to twenty-four hours.  Mine commonly run 8 to 12 hours and mysecond rise usually runs 2 to 4 hours.  I've also had good luck letting thefirst rise slump, then rejuvenating the dough with additional flour andkneading.  A slightly damp, cool room is best suited for rising sourdough. It slowsand evens the rise.  Since I don't have that, I work at a room temperatureof 70 to 74 degrees F and seem to get reasonable results.If you plan to keep working with sourdough, I recommend Ed Wood's WorldSourdoughs from Antiquity.  It is the best primer on sourdoughs I've found.Bear



Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 16:30:13 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: Bread making Platina style (long)


> So...whole wheat would be better for sourdough also??


> Etain


Not necessarily, although it might be more correct historically.  We don't

really know what grade of flour was used in starters (I suspect they may

have had different starters for different qualities of bread).  It may be

worth some effort to experiment with a whole wheat starter to examine the

effects on the product.  


Whole grain is not particularly critical to breadmaking, where it and malted

grain are very essential to Brandu's specialty of brewing.





Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 09:11:26 -0500From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>Subject: RE: SC - Re: Bread making Platina style (long)There are two types of starter.  One that is made each time a batch of breadis prepared and the other being a continuously fed starter. The first type uses leavening agent such as barm or dry active yeast tostart fermentation in a small portion of the total amount of dough.  Then itis used as a starter for a batch of bread.  It improves the flavor and canuse less yeast in the initial batch (which reduces the "yeasty" taste).Professional artisan bakers will sometimes use a "three quarter rise" (IIRthe nomenclature correctly), where a starter is used to ferment about 1/3 ofthe total dough, which is in turn used to ferment the total mass.The starter I was addressing is the continuously maintained starter which isfed at regular intervals.  Such a starter can be made with S. cerevisiae,but over time, the starter becomes more acid and yeast starts dying off,which reduces the leavening capability of the starter.Continuous starters need to be fed and used regularly.  Putting a starter inthe refrigerator only slows the yeast growth, it doesn't stop it.  Feed it acouple times of week while it is in the refrigerator to keep it healthy.  Ifyou don't feed it, the fermentation stops, the yeast dies or goes dormant,and the mold turns your starter into a science project.If you want to do long term storage of a continuous starter, it can befrozen or starter can be spread between a couple sheets of aluminum foil,allowed to dry and then crushed into a powder which can be stored in a jarin the refrigerator.  Frozen yeast is reconstituted by allowing it to thaw,then feeding it equal weights of flour and water, then letting sit coveredon the countr for a day or two.  The powdered starter is dissolved in water,then an equal weight (to the amount of water) of flour is stirred into themixture, and the starter is allowed to sit covered on the counter for a dayor two.Bear



Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 10:49:20 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sour Doh question!!!


The byproducts of growing yeast are commonly carbon dioxide and alcohol.

The carbon dioxide has no odor, but the alcohol can get very pungent,

especially in a new starter which has not yet balanced between yeast and

bacilli.  The sour odor is most likely from the lactic acid produced by the

lactobacilli.  As long as the starter is swelling and bubbling, everything

should be okay.


You really don't need to feed the starter during the first couple of days,

because the generation of yeast and lactobacilli is geometric and doesn't

use up the sugars until the end of that period.  Once you have a good mass

of sourdough, it needs to be fed and used regularly.  By tomorrow, you

should have 2 to 4 cups of sourdough and I would recommend making some



From here on out, you will need bake a couple times a week, simply because

the starter gets difficult to feed when it goes over 4 cups (speaking from

the experience of trying to maintain 4 gallons of starter).


As the starter settles down, most of the odors should disappear, except when

you are by the bowl.  Other than immediately after feeding, the starter

should take on a semi-liquid (like a very thick pancake batter), satiny

texture.  My starter has a light tan color, but that may be from my using

unbleached flour.  


A surface crust may form from exposure to air.  If it does, skim it off and

throw it away before feeding or using the starter.  Mold is more likely to

form in a surface crust because it is not fermenting and surface crusts are

more likely to appear on a starter which is having problems.  A little Catch



A mild sour odor which is odd but not unpleasant, usually denotes a good,

balanced starter.  You may not even notice it, unless the cover is off the

starter container.  In an older starter, a heavy odor of alcohol says that

the yeast is overactive and there may be a die off in progress.  A decaying

odor similar to that of a refrigerator science project, says the starter has

serious problems.


From what you are saying, I think your starter is doing fine.  Just remember

that now the feeding will become critical.




> Alright, I'm sure some of you are exhausted by the discussion of sour

> doh.  But the conversation inspired me to try that JUST flour and water

> experiment to see if it would actually work!  I think it really

> did!!!  It's all bubbly, and swelling anyway.  I have forgotten to feed it

> at night both days (today is the third day), but fed it in the morning

> every day.  And it seems to be doing SOMETHING.  My question though, is

> what does this yeast and sugar free sour doh smell like?  It doesn't have

> the yeasty smell I'm used to from making sourdoh in the past.   It smells

> sour, but... strange too.  (I wish someone could come over and check it for

> me!!!)  It isn't growing fuzz or any horrible thing like that.  I guess I

> am just concerned that perhaps it is not growing the proper organisms for

> bread making, and that I might poison my family or something???

> -Laurene



Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 01:53:40 EDT

From: BalthazarBlack at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Sour Doh question!!!


stefan at texas.net writes:

>  Do you mean buy some uncooked commercial sourdough dough? Or do you mean

>  some commercial sourdough bread? Doesn't the baking kill the yeast if

>  the latter? For the former, where would you buy such an item?


>  How long will the yeast stay active in the sourdough dough if I can

>  find some? Or is this something you buy frozen?


I was referring to the frozen commercial dough.  I should have been more

specific.  Sorry.  You can usually find frozen sourdough at any good

restaurant supply house.  It's not really all that sour, but it will help

your starter, and the sourness will increase with time. It's a good way to

innoculate the starter with the right kind of bacteria.


Balthazar of Blackmoor



Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 09:02:18 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sourdough starter


> I am coming out of lurkdom once again for some assistance. Sunday night I

> whipped up some sourdough starter.  The directions said to let it sit for

> 10-12 days.  Two days later, it was frothy and bubbly and smelled a little

> sour, but since the recipe said to wait 10-12 days, I didn't do anything

> with it.  Now it is 4 days later and it is flat and no longer bubbly.  Is

> it ruined?  Should  I feed it or is it supposed to be like this?  It

> definitely smells sour, it just looks dead.


> Marsaili:-)


Does it smell sour or decaying?  Is the color dull and beginning to gray?

If it smells decaying, looks dull and is beginning to gray, the yeast is

probably dead.  If not, then you may be able to save it by feeding it, as I

will describe later.  If you try to save it and there is a surface crust,

remove that and discard it, because it makes a good culture for molds.


The starter should have mild sour odor which is odd but not unpleasant.  You

may not even notice it, unless the cover is off the starter container.  In

an older starter, a heavy odor of alcohol says that the yeast is overactive

and there may be a die off in progress.  A decaying odor similar to that of

a refrigerator science project, says the starter has serious problems.


Sourdough starters work because when you mix flour and water, there is an

amylase reaction which frees sugars from the starch.  Wild yeast and

lactobacilli use different sugars to propagate and make the sourdough

starter.  The lactic acid from the lactobacilli make the sour taste while

the yeast causes the bread to rise.


When you beat the flour and water together, air is introduced into the

mixture.  The lactobacilli are aerobic in nature and begin to reproduce

first, when the air in the mixture is used up, the anerobic yeast (most

often a variety of Candida milleri, which is suited to an acidic

environment) begins to reproduce.  When the sugars are used up, the yeast

begins to die off.


Sourdough starters use equal weights of flour and water which by volume

measure is roughly 1/2 cup water to 1 cup flour.  To begin the starter, I

usually use 1 cup of water and 2 cups flour.  The starter is then left in a

bowl on the counter, covered or uncovered.  Covered works because milling is

not a sterile process and wild yeast and lactobacilli are common in flour.

Where I am at, I use the covered method due to the high concentration of

local molds, which are among the few things that will attack a starter.


The starter should show visible fermentation within a couple of days.  Once

the fermentation starts, the starter needs to be fed 1/2 cup water and 1 cup

of flour about every 12 hours, if you leave it on the counter, or the same

amount once every 2 or 3 days if you seal the starter in a jar and keep it

in the refrigerator.  The warmer the ambient temperature, the faster the

starter uses the sugar.  Giving the starter a good stir when you feed it

re-aerates the starter and allows the lactobacilli to go back to work.  


Sometimes a starter won't begin to ferment, which usually points to a lack

of wild yeast in the vicinity.  But that is obviously not the case here.


Once the starter begins bubbling, it can be used, but I tend to feed it a

couple more days to get several cups of starter.  If you leave it on the

counter, you will need to bake about every three days.  If you leave it in

the refrigerator, you will need to bake about once a week.


BTW, whose instructions were you following?





Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 10:29:31 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sourdough starter


Depending on what you have put into the mix, if you induce fermentation with

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, at the end of two days, you should have burned up

all of the sugars which feed the fermentation.  The yeast goes dormant and

the acidic waste products begin killing the yeast.  It may take a while (6

days in the test I ran), but it does happen.  


One of the problems with standard bread yeast in starters is that S.

cerevisiae is not well adapted to acidic environments.  As the starter

becomes more acidic (sour), the yeast loses potency.  This isn't a problem

if you are going to use the starter once or twice, but if you want a

continuous starter, it's better to let nature provide the spores.


The sourness is not due to waste products from the fermentation.  Those

products are carbon dioxide and alcohol.  The sourness comes from the lactic

acid released by the growth of lactobacilli in the starter.  Since

lactobacilli growth is an aerobic process, once the air in the starter is

used up, lactic acid production stops, so does the souring.  As the starter

goes anaerobic, the fermentation actually picks up and continues until the

sugar runs out.  


By feeding the starter with water and flour when it goes dormant, you add

the sugars produced by the amylase reaction to feed the yeast and

lactobacilli and aerate the starter to refresh the lactic acid production.

Just letting the starter sit does not improve the flavor. At room

temperature, my starters tend to cycle through active to dormant about every

12 hours, so they usually are fed morning and evening.


One area of confusion about starters are sponges.  A sponge is similar to a

starter (in fact some books call it a starter).  It is made by taking a

quarter to a third of the flour and water and combining it with the yeast

and sometimes the sugar in the recipe to form a dough. This is allowed to

rest for 4 to 24 hours to improve the flavor and yeast growth.  The sponge

is then broken apart in the remaining liquid to spread the yeast when the

dough is made.  The sponge is completely consumed in the recipe, where a

true sourdough starter is recovered.


It's been over a year since I last used Herman (he is hiding in the

freezer).  After the Known World Costume Symposium, I think I'll bring him

out and resurrect him to play with Italian baking practices.





Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 07:02:53 -0400

From: harper at idt.net

Subject: Re: SC - Sourdough starter


And it came to pass on 21 Oct 00, , that Leslie Lansdowne wrote:

> I did feed it tonight and it woke right up and is wonderfully bubbly and

> sour.  I am going to attempt my first batch of bread with it today so we'll

> see what comes of this starter!


Congratulations!  Some healthy starters can bounce back very

quickly.  I recently fed mine after 2 months neglect in the fridge.  It

was bubbling in no time.


A useful resource, if you haven't discovered it, is the Sourdough

FAQ at:



Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Settmour Swamp, East (NJ)



Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 11:55:02 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sourdough starter


> Congratulations!  Some healthy starters can bounce back very

> quickly.  I recently fed mine after 2 months neglect in the fridge. It

> was bubbling in no time.


> Lady Brighid ni Chiarain


And I had a starter in the refrigerator which became a science project in 3

weeks.  Frozen is better for storing starter.





Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 09:25:58 -0400

From: johnna holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sourdough


Sourdough can be very tempermental to get started

and learning to bake with it can take some time.

Don't despair yet--- just be patient and keep trying.

So, With regard to sourdough--

I can offer these pointers--

Bear mentioned the Ed Wood book. The newest edition is

titled-- Classic Sourdoughs, A Home Baker's Handbook.

This updated version of Ed Wood's wildly popular

World Sourdoughs from Antiquity features over 90

recipes (including a chapter on baking sourdough in the

bread machine). Wood covers preparation of a

sourdough culture, then shows the reader how to build

the culture, and make, shape and bake the breads --

Softcover, 210 pages. It costs 19.95 and is available from

The Bakers Catalogue at King Arthur Flour.



One good thing about the Wood book is that he tells you how to

time the sourdough as to whether or not it's a fast or slow

batch. That makes a great deal of difference as to when you bake

and how long you let it rise before baking. And yes a small amount

of good yeast is another consideration, especially for bread

machine sourdoughs.


You might want to start over and this time when you make the

initial batch use spring water and organic flour (like King

Arthur bread flour). Tap water in certain parts of the country

can kill the batch; even well water ran through a water softner

doesn't cut it. Then continue to feed it with only the same ingredients.

Mine has lasted for years in a quart glass preserving jar with

a lid that hooks down on the metal collar. Keep it in the back of

the fridge and feed it as needed of equal measures flour and water.


Johnna Holloway  Johnnae llyn Lewis



Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 13:22:59 -0600

From: "margaret" <m.p.decker at att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


First problem, a starter made with yeast (I assume bakers yeast).  Bakers

yeast does not perform well in high acid environments. Its potency

diminishes over time.  In this case, the high acid and lack of nourishment

may have sent it to never-never land.


To recover it, I would have done exactly as you have done adding some of the

starter to a mix of flour and water.  If this doesn't work, spike it with a

little sugar water.  If it still doesn't work, "it's dead, Jim."


If you have to start over, mix up equal quantities by weight of flour and

water and set it out on the counter.  It should start to ferment in 2 to 4

days, after which feed as normal.  Since the sourness is a function of the

lactobacilli, which are highly localized, I would expect a satisfactory

substitute for your old starter.




> My catering company has been very busy lately. That's great for me,

> but apparently *not* so great

> for my Sourdough Starter.  After 6 months of devoted service and

> outrageous flavor, it appears

> that my starter has suffered from seperation anxiety. 3 weeks in the

> fridge, unfed and unloved,

> and it has given up the ghost....shuffled off this mortal coil.....

> gone to join the Choir Invisible...you get the point.


> I tried to revive it by adding more yeast, and replacing half of it  with

> fresh flour and water,

> but it just sat there, looking up at me with billions of lifeless eyes.

> No froth, no bubble, not even a respectable burp. Listless.


> I'm wondering why the starter did not revive when I added fresh yeast and

> fresh flour.  It always

> had before, and I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't now.  

> Unless, there is too much acid

> in the starter???  I mean, this stuff is lemondrop sour, and made

> absolutely wonderful bread,

> pancakes and waffles, just to name a few.


> If the acid is not a problem (I have been using home-made starters for

> years with no problems),

> could it be a bacterial infection???  The starter still smells like

> sourdough starter, and hasn't

> 'gone off'.  The 'run-off' was clear and smelled tart (no off odors).


> Any sourdough bakers out there think they can offer up some advice?  I

> have started a new batch,

> using a tablespoon of the original starter, and all other ingredients

> fresh (including fresh

> yeast).  I'm hoping this new batch will not be problematic due to the

> addition of the stuck

> starter.


> William de Grandfort

> Experienced Baker, but come on.... I'm at a loss.



Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 07:56:54 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Two days into the new starter, and I have what appears to be fermentation,

> but no hint of sourness yet.  A few days more, perhaps.


> WdG


The "sour" in sourdough doesn't refer to the taste, it refers to the

spontaneous fermentation.  You are "souring" the starter.


If you want a sour taste, be careful not to overfeed the starter, no more

than once every 12 to 24 hours.  Once you start using it, you can go a

little longer between feedings.  When you stir the starter, you introduce

air into the mixture.  The yeasts become active and produce alcohol and



As the starter goes anaerobic, the yeasts slow down and go dormant while the

lactobacilli increase production of lactic acid (the sour taste).  If you

want to increase the sour taste, you need good lactobacilli and a long

enough anaerobic side to the cycle.


Up to a point, the sour taste usually increases over time.





Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 14:33:55 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-ooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>, "Cooks within the SCA"

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


As I ecall, David defers to James Beard on the matter of sourdoughs and

having gone over Beard on Bread in the matter of sourdoughs, I came to the

opinion that Beard knew nothing about sourdough bread, an opinion I

expressed on the sca-bakers list a few yearsago.


Ed Wood is the better reference in this case, but take some of his claims

with a grain of salt.




> Further references:

> English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David.

> World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, Ed Wood

> --

> -- Jadwiga Zajaczkwa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 12:00:46 -0800 (PST)

From: Chris Stanifer <jugglethi at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius <adamantius.magister at verizon.net> wrote:

> I think the point of Bear's statement is that the purpose of a

> sourdough starter, assuming you're using it to leaven, is that it has

> airborne yeasts cultured in it, and these yeasts, in the early stages

> of the culture, have not mutated and begun to produce sour

> by-products, nor have lactobacilli had a chance to get into the

> picture, which is why your sourdough isn't sour tasting yet. However,

> it is still sourdough, and a good way to get it to tastemore sour is

> to use it a time or two.


Okay. I think I've figured out the problem.  I'm wondering if this is a

misuse of nomenclature?

In Britain, doughs which use a 'sourdough' starter are sometimes called

'acids' or 'acid breads',

which implies tha they have tartness to them.  This further implies

that the starter is commonly

used once it has become acidic (hence the name 'sour' dough).


I believe what Bear and yourself are referring to should actually be

described as a Biga, or a

Chef, or (if losely translated) a Levain.  These are traditionally

made using spontaneous

fermentation, but used before they are allowed to sour (although many

modern recipes call for

yeast to be added to the mixture).  So, it is possible to have a

'sourdough' starte which is not

yet sour.... but if you use it before it sours, then it is not a

'sourdough' starter...it is a

Biga, Chef, Levain or some other terminology.  It looks like a contest

of nomenclature.


In short, IMHO, a sourdough starter is used for the expess purpose of

providing a pleasant, sour

tang to the bread (and gelatinizing the starch in 100% rye breads).  A

Starter which has not been

allowed to sour is just that...a starter.





Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 14:40:24 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> --- Terry Decker <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>> The "sour" in sourdough doesn't refer to the taste, it refers to the

>> spontaneous fermentation.  You are "souring" the starter.


> Please direct me to the references for this statement.  I believe there

> may be some misinformation in it.


> William de Grandfort


Check the dictionary.  Sour -- to make acid or rancid by fermentation. In

making sourdough bread you are making an naturally acidic dough by

spontaneous fermentation.


In the US, when some one says sourdough, one thinks of San Francisco

sourdough and the great sour tang produced by Lactobacillus sanfrancisco.

It is a sourdough bread that truly tastes sour.  However, worldwide, the

flavor of sourdough bread runs a gamut of flavors, some of which don't taste

very sour (consider Amish Friendship Bread).  The idea that sourdough tastes

sour comes primarily from the fact that modern commercial sourdoughs contain

citric acid to fudge the taste of San Francisco sourdough.





Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 15:20:31 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> In short, IMHO, a sourdough starter is used for the express purpose of

> providing a pleasant, sour

> tang to the bread (and gelatinizing the starch in 100% rye breads).  A

> Starter which has not been

> allowed to sour is just that...a starter.


> WdG


All bread doughs tend to be acid and at least a little sour in taste.  In a

sourdough, the flavor is a function of the lactobacilli, which are

localized.  The flavor of the bread changes as the lactobacilli change.

Sourdoughs have a full flavor which may or may not be particularly tangy or

sour even if you have allowed the the lactobacilli to work.  My current

sourdough has a nice flavor but isn't particularly sour tasting even though

it is acidic.





Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 06:58:06 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Most breads have a pH of around 5.5.  Sourdoughs run between 3.5 and 4.5 pH

with real "sour" San Francisco sourdough being down on the low end.  "Sweet"

sourdoughs run toward the 4.5 pH.  The potential of hydrogen scale usually

runs from 0 to 14 with 7 as a neutral.





Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 10:53:29 -0500

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I think I've found the problem.

Apparently, according to English Bread and Yeast Cookery, English bakers

make sourdough by making a tame yeast sponge and sitting it out until it

goes sour.


Americans, however, do a three step process, where they start with the

flour-water slurry and wait for it to bubble, then make a sponge, etc.


In other words, Americans require WILD YEAST to make a sourdough, while

the English are content to wait for wild lactobacilli to infect a tame

yeast sponge.


Now, here are some examples.


One from Laura Ingals Wilder, writing of

her girlhood in the 1870s, having little to nothing to do with San



"But how do you make the sour dough?" Mrs. Boast asked.

"You start it," said Ma, "by putting some flour and warm water in a jar

and letting it stand till it sours."

"Then when you use it, always leave a little," said Laura. "And put in

the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water," Laura put

in the warm water, "and cover it," she put the clean cloth and the plate

on the jar, "and just set it in a warm place," she set it in its place

on the shelf by the stove. "And it's always ready to use, whenever you

want it." -- _By the Shores of Silver Lake_


Writing in _The Little House Cookbook_, Barbara M. Walker says, "A

sour-dough starter is leaven that develops from microscopic WILD YEAST

and bacteria present in the air."


> From _Real Bread_ by Maggie Baylis and Coralie Castle: "A 'starter' is

the beginning of all sourdough breads; it looks like thick pancake

batter, is basically flour and water (some call for dry milk, another

for potato water, etc.) that is set in a warm place where it will, you

hope, capture wild yeast spores out of the air and maintain them... the

older the starter, the more tangy its behavior."


from _Bake your Own Bread_ by Floss and Stan Dworkin: "What is

sourdough? Actually, it's _free yeast_.... If you can encourage wild

yeast to grow in a favorable medium (such as a wet and warm mixture made

from milk and flour) they will multiply and act for you like prepackaged

yeast-- with the major difference that the taste is a 'sour,' winey,

rich flavor... (There are, in various cookbooks, recipes for making

'sourdough' starter using tame yeast and flour and milk, or tame yeast

and flour and milk and a shot of vinegar. It's not the same -- it's not

even close. Tame yeast is tame, and only wild yeast gives you that great

sourdough flavor.)

    If you bake with your new starter the first week, you may be

surprised at how bland it is that first week. It seems the sourdough

culture likes to mature for a few weeks before it hits its full flavor

stride. It will raise your bread immediately, but the flavor needs

maturing, at least until the second week."


> From _World Sourdoughs from Antiquity_ by Ed Wood:

"A true sourdough is nothing more than flour and water with WILD YEAST

to make it rise and special bacteria to provide the flavor... sourdough

yeasts grow best in a slightly acide dough, while baker's yeast does

better in a neutral or slightly akaline one. Baker's yeast is

represented by a single species, Saccaromyces cerevisae, while

sourdoughs are usually leavened by multiple species in the same dough,

none of which are baker's yeast. This mixture of yeast types contributes

to the DISTINCTIVE SOURDOUGH TEXTURE... The wild yeasts in sourdough are

anything but uniform, and they vary from country to country...

...sourdough bread is the product of not one microorganism, but two. The

wild yeast make it rise, and bacterial helpers produce the flavor. These

beneficial bacteria are primarily lactobacilli, so named because they

produce lactic acid, which contributes to the sour flavor. And they

don't do it very fast. Experience has shown that the lactobacilli

require approximately 12 hours to fully develop the authentic taste of

the sourdough..."


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 13:08:33 -0500

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] citations on sour dough from the OED

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


oh, these are some of the examples of the term sourdough in the OED:


"14.. Nom. in Wr.-Wlcker 725 Hoc fermentum, surdowght. c1440 Promp.

Parv. 466/2 Sowre Dowe, fermentum. a1529 SKELTON E. Rummyng 288 Som

bryngeth her husbandes hood..; And some brought sowre dowe. 1535

COVERDALE Exod. xiii. 7 Therfore shalt thou eate vnleuended bred seuen

dayes, that there be no sowre dowe, ner sowred bred sene in all thy

quarters. 1869 Lonsdale Gloss. 78/2 Sour dough or doff, leaven. 1876

Mid-Yorks. Gloss. 132/1 Sour-dough, the more homely equivalent of


  {beta} c1425 Voc. in Wr.-Wlcker 663 Hoc fermentum, surdagh. 1483 Cath.

Angl. 350/1 Sowre daghe, fermentum, zima. c1520 M. NISBET Matt. xiii. 33

The kingdom of heuenis is like to sourdauche."


In other words, the YEAST and the yeast qualities (fermentum) are the

important parts. :)


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 15:46:59 -0500

From: Stephen Bloch <sbloch at adelphi.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sourdough (was Starter went 'Pffft')

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Thom Leonard, in _The Bread Book_, describes two very different kinds

of yeast cultures that might at least loosely be called "sourdough".

The San Francisco style is normally stored and incubated in liquid

form at relatively high temperatures (say, 70-80F), and produces a

sharp, sour flavor.  The French style, which Leonard prefers, is

stored and incubated in solid form at lower temperatures (50-65F),

and produces a "fruity" flavor.  To be precise, Leonard recommends a

two-stage life cycle: the longer "chef" phase, which looks like a

tennis ball of fairly firm dough, developing a dry and disposable

crust on the outside; and the "levain" phase, a larger and softer

ball of dough which is kept for no more than 24 hours before making

bread and a new "chef".


I've baked with both of these, in different periods of my life: a

liquid starter given to me for "Friendship Bread", and a chef/levain

cycle which, from time to time, I've fortified with commercial dry

yeast.  Sometimes the latter has turned out quite sour too, but

usually at that point it's not working very well for rising anyway,

and can be thrown away.  At other times, it really does smell



                                      John Elys

           (the artist formerly known as mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar


                                  mka Stephen Bloch



Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 20:20:06 -0500

From: Bill Fisher <liamfisher at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] citations on sor dough from the OED

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 17:10:25 -0500, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius

<adamantius.maister at verizon.net> wrote:

> Again, a sign of quality is not the same thing _as_ quality, any more

> than, say, pouring fresh blood over stale meat makes it fresh again.

> And I agree that some did, and would, equate the sourness with

> quality, but then some people used to believe that thunder caused

> milk to sour, too, when in fact they were joint effects of the same

> phenomenon, not cause and effect. I'm not saying sourness should be

> ignored for that style in that setting, I'm just saying we should bot

> forget our priorities, and that sourness provided by lactothingies is

> some unidentified percentage level less important than the leavening

> power of yeast in this equation.


> Adamantius


I have to agree.


There is one thing I can't see happening in the process of making bread.


I can't see a medieval baker,  pioneer wife, or trail cook waiting to use

a starter until it becomes sour enough to taste.  I can see if that starter

is fed and kept alive that it would become sour in time.


From doing some homework, the fridge isn't the best place for yeast or

lactobacteria.  Normal yeast and lactobacteria are active at human body

temperatures.  They actually thrive in out bodies as an ecosystem.


So by refrigerating your starter, it will take forever for your dough to get sour and for it to bubble,  but keeping at 80-90 degrees it should sour quickly as that is the best temp for both yeast and lactobacteria.


It also seems that the lactobacteria aid the yeast by breaking down starches

it can't eat into sugars it can eat, and also the waste products of the

lactobacteria keep other nasties in check, making the starter safe to eat.


> From what I can tell the two go hand in hand environmentally. They also

arrive the same way if you let other items naturally ferment.


In an environment without refrigeration or a finely controllable heat source,

you are at the season's mercy as to how your starter will sour.


In the warmer months of the year, the bread will be more sour, and in the cooler

months, less sour.  It should vary based upon the metabolic cycle of the

critters involved.  Medieval people would quickly figure out that blood heat

would do the trick for a starter, but hot and cold are hard to regulate when you

don't have a thermostat.


That being said.  The sourness of the dough would be an side effect of

the leavening process, not the target of it.  It would be something that

would come in under the radar as a daily or seasonal change in the

breads, and a regional difference as well.


Modernly, we know to reproduce the sourness, and it is a trait we desire

in the breads, we know the ecosystem involved as well.


Does anyone have any documentation for the keeping of a starter, how

long they would be kept and  how it would be treated?   That would

settle this pretty handily.


If starters were kept for long periods of time, then they would tend to be

more sour and that would point towards purposely engineering it towards

the flavor aspect.  If they just recycled odd bits of dough from each batch

and didn't keep a starter, it would not sour as much and it would point

towards use as a leavening agent with sourness as an after effect.


It could also be a regional thing as well, as we know, methods vary

from area to area.





Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 0:28:13 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] citations on sour dough from the OED

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>



The question then becomes: 'can the two be seperated'?  If the sourness is a sign of quality, the doesn't it, by extension, become the quality we are seeking??  


If we know that a quality bread has a sour flavor, can't we assume that a sour bread is a quality bread??  Maybe this would need some further research.  Can you make a our bread which sucks in all other regards?? I'm not sure.  I think not.  If you can do it, send me a loaf :)


William de Grandfort



If sourness was the sole standard of quality, then your dead starter would

make the finest loaf of sourdough around.  Or add citric acid to and dough

and be done with it.  Simply being sour does not make a sourdough.  (If you

haven't managed to make a loaf of sourdough which sucks in all regards other

than sour, you haven't been baking very long.  In 40 years, I've had some

spectacular failures.)


The standard for quality is the loaf; crust, crumb and flavor.  Light enough

that it doesn't set like lead in the stomach, slightly heavier than average

breads with a nice chewy crust and excellent flavor (from the pungent

sourness of San Francisco to a very mild tang that dances on the palate).

All sourdoughs are not the same and it is the amazing variation that I find



One of the points you have been trying to make is that sourdough is a

continuous use starter.  It is impossible to keep lactobacilli out of a

continuous use starter and once there, they will add acid to the mixture and

produce some level of sourness in the bread due to the acidity.  Whether or

not the sourness is noticeable as sour is determined by the type of

lactobacilli in the starter and the palate of the diner. In general when

the term starter is used, a continuous starter which is fed and fluctuates

between aerobic and anaerobic is what is meant.


A single use starter (where the lactobacilli have limited growth) is best

referred to as a sponge.  I tend not to get into all of the various

definitions people have for poolish, biga, etc.  I will say that a French

sourdough levain real is a sourdough starter of dough (rather than

semi-liquid) similar to that carried by Alaskan sourdoughs.


A fine, spirited defense of your opinions and some interesting arguments.

Good work.  If you want to consider sourdough recipes, baking or chemistry,

trot some out.





Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 20:40:15 -0600

From: "Simon Hondy" <scholari at verizon.net>

Subjct: RE: [Sca-cooks] Starter went 'Pffft'

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Some nice sourdough definitions:



very nice info on sourdough:



FAQs from rec.food.sourdough



The original Issue of the starter dieing coul be over worked, or using

chlorinated water, which can kill off the lactobacilli.


I have a lethal barm in my fridge, that I made following a recipe from

Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery.  I say lethal as I am

still looking for one of thecorks it blew off.  I am now afraid to take it

out of the door...   Also drying a smear of sourdough starter once you get a

good one going is great to assist in restarting a new batch if one neglects

their "pet".  Make sure the new starter vessel is strile when starting

anew, and if you have old starter to mix into it, put a lid on it (allowing

for gasses to escape, but not get in)  You want the original culture to

start, not let in evil or other wild beasties.  If you keep the starter near

the stove in some frightening looking container, use it pretty much each

day,  if in the fridge, maintain it once a week.  let it warm to room temp,

then divide and feed,  whip it good  let it froth and put it away again.

And for the brave and desperate, for alcohol, be like the 49ers of old


drink the hooch off the top mmmmm makes one yearn for Kumiss.


Simon Hondy




Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 12:20:15 -0500 (GMT-05:00)

From: Robin Carroll-Mann <rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] citations on sour dough from the OED

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


-----Original Message-----

From: Bill Fisher <liamfisher at gmail.com>


[much snippage]

I can't see a medieval baker,  pioneer wife, or trail cook waiting to use

a starter until it becomes sour enough to taste.  I can see if that starter

is fed and kept alive that it would become sour in time.





Platina says that the baker should beware using too much or too little

leaven, because in the former case the bread would have a sour taste,

and in the latter, it would be heavy and unhealthy.  So, he considered

sourness in bread to be an undesirable quality.  I *think* there is

more on this topic in some of the period health manuals; I'll take a

look later.


Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom



Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 12:15:08 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Seeking

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> I know that there was a thread on it  a while ago... does anyone have a

> simple, quick recipe for a periodish sourdough starter?


> -Ardenia


Mix one cup of flour with one half cup of water in a bowl. Cover the bowl.

Let stand on the counter until it begins to ferment. After it does add one

half cup of flour and one quarter cup of water every twelve to twenty-four

hours to feed the starter.





Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 12:34:00 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Seeking

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


The aerobic/anaerobic cycle in a starter completes in about 12 hours at room

temperature.  Once the fermentation stops, mold growth can set in.  Three

days without refrigeration or feeding would turn my starter into a mold

factory, which is why I recommend feeding daily if the starter is at room

temperature and once every three days if refrigerated.


Flour isn't sterile.  There is usually enough yeast in the flour to take

advantage of the amylase reaction between the water and the flour.  So, you

should be able to get a starter even if you don't bake a lot.


The flavor of sourdough depends on the lactobacilli in the starter.  Adding

milk will spike the lactobacilli.  It may also make the starter more prone

to infection.


Sugar will boost the yeast production, but may do so at the expense of the



I've never seen it take more than three days to get a good fermentation

rolling, but it may take several months and a number of uses to get proper

flavor and potency.




> Flour & water.  Put on your shelf and feed every 3rd day or so.  If you

> bake a lot there is natural yeast in the air.  If you add milk, it will

> "sour" faster.  If you add sugar, it will grow a little faster.


> It may take a month or so to develop into a bubbly mess, dependant on your

> ambiant yeast.


> Vitha



Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 11:08:56 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Seeking

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- wildecelery at aol.com wrote:

> I know that there was a thread on it  a while ago... does anyone have a

> simple, quick recipe for a periodish sourdough starter?


> -Ardenia


I use two cups of rye flour to two cups of flat beer and let sit for 3-4 days or until it bubbles.  But then the only sour dough I make is sour dough rye bread.  I suppose you could use other flours to the same effect.





Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 15:20:36 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Seeking

To: "Cooks within the SCA" sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Would mead work in plae of flat beer?

> Lyse


Yes, but it's a different kind of yeast, so it may or may not let off the

necessary carbon dioxide and it may not tolerate the high acid environment

of a starter and lose potency over time.


Any simply fermented alcoholic beverage that hasn't been pastuerized may

have enough remaining yeast to seed a starter.





Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 15:38:37 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Seeking

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- otsisto <otsisto at socket.net> wrote:

> Would stouts, ales and lagers work as well.

> I know a rewer that I may have access to mead and the other three

> tends to show up in the frig. once in a while.


> Lyse


Stouts, ales and lagers will work very well.  I have used all three. But better yet, ask your brewer friend to give you some of his brew that didn't effervesce

proprly [i.e. still beer]. I had an arrangement with one brewer in my kingdom to get his batches that wouldn't bubble.  Or that went flat for whatever reason. For every batch he gave me, he got one loaf of bread.


He moved to another kingdom after a couple of years, so I had to rely on commercial beer after that.  But my sour dough rye always tastes better with home brewed beers.





Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:51:01 +0000

From: "Holly Stockley" <hollyvandenberg at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Fermentation Sponge Question

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


From: <Aldyth at aol.com>

> Does anyone have experience in whether starting the sponge with certain

> kinds of flour determine what kind of sponge it will ultimately become?

> For example using a lower gluten flour versus a higher gluten flour.


Yes, and you've caught me in mid-experiment.  ;-)


I've been rather methodically comparing sponge methods and ingredients.  I

haven't noticed any qualitative difference in sponges made with say,

unbleached bread flour vs. unbleached all purpose. Bleached or brominated

flours severely inhibit sponge activity, at least in the starting phases.

Natural yeast sponges (i.e. desems) work MUCH better with freshly ground

flour made from organic wheat.  I've noticed flavor differences and texture

differences in the bread made from red vs white and hard vs. soft, but it

doesn't seem to make a lot of difference in the sponge unless the sponge

forms a very high proportion of your total flour bill for the bread.


Sponges based on ale yeasts give a higher rise and finer grain than desems -

at first.  They seem to have a tendency to sort of attenuate and peter out

if you try to maintain them over long periods of time. Which isn't to say

they won't RISE, but they certainly don't perform as well as the initial

culture did.


I haven't played with other grains much, yet.  I don't care for rye bread.

And barley doesn't bring a lot of gluten to the party, so you have to cut it

with something or you tend to kind of get a brick.


I suppose I should write everything up methodically when I get done

playing....  umm...  at some point.





Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2007 02:50:23 +0000

From: "Holly Stockley" <hollyvandenberg at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Fermentation Sponge Question

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


From: <Aldyth at aol.com>

> Does anyone have experience in whether starting the sponge with certain

> kinds of flour determine what kind of sponge it will ultimately become?

> For example using a lower gluten flour versus a higher gluten flour.


Hmm, maybe, and maybe not.  You might end up with a yeast less suited to

your substrate.  I might try a multi-stage pre-ferment. Organic barley and

water (if you have flouride or chlorine in your water, use bottled) made

into a paste.  Let it sit 24 hours.  Then add more flour and water.  Repeat

every 24 hours for about three days and you're likely to have a stronger

starter.  You can water it down to the consistency you want the feeding

before you use it.  And you can wrap up extra starter dough from earlier

stages and freeze it.


Preferments, retardation, and relaxation periods can really make a

difference in your bread quality.  They take a lot of time - but very little

of it is yours.  As far as switching flours for types of breads, I'm not

sure I follow your theory.  I find that _leavened_ flatbreads, like focacia,

actually benefit more from high-protein flours than classical raised breads.


   The dough is just more slack and usually has some enrichment.  If you want

to play with flour types, King Arthur has some very nice flours  

that mimic the higher mineral content and more moderate protein flours used

in Europe modernly.  As far as in period - it really depends on WHERE and

WHEN and what would have grown.    Soft vs. Hard wheat, red vs. white.  


I can also recommend Westwind Milling Co. - they seperate out their flours in

those ways and it's all stone ground.  You might even be able to ask them

questions about cleaning a mill.  Nice folks.  (If you're in the area, they

also sell pasteurized, nonhomogenized cream - upon which it IS possible to

float an egg on spring cream ;-):





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