I had the rarest of weekends this past weekend: I had no commitments, nothing that absolutely had to be done, well save one.
I had to feed the monsters. And since I had nothing else that needed to be done, I decided to play with it a little.
First, I made a couple of pizza doughs using this recipe.
I only get to eat pizza that I make (drat that lactose problem), and since we had a few hunks of cheese that had accumulated in the fridge, I decided pizza would be a good way to use some of it. I mixed up two batches of pizza dough, each with a different starter (if you’re just joining this adventure, I have three sourdough monsters, each with a different feeding formula, but all three had the same mother). This is where things got interesting.
Take a look at the two doughs after rising for two hours. One is clearly more active.
I was a little surprised. One starter is fed using the KA proportions that came with the original seed starter. It’s basically, half starter and half feeder. The other starter is one that I have fiddled with a bit. I started off feeding it according to the proportions in DL’s book Local Breads, but I soon adjusted it to my own liking. I felt that his starter had too much liquid, so I dropped the liquid level until I was adding an equal amount of liquid and flour to the starter for its feeding, which is what I do for the KA feedings. But the ratio of starter to feeder is much lower than the KA — it’s about 18.5% instead of 50%. Which do you think is the more active one?
If you guessed the KA one, you’d be wrong. Yeah, I know, surprising! I always expect that when I follow specific instructions, especially when baking, that things will turn out for the best. But, I have found, with bread baking, things can be a little different. Instinct plays an important part in bread baking because the texture of a dough can vary a lot depending on the weather and your ingredients. I think the Non-KA starter also may have an advantage because there is more food for the little guys to eat during their week-long stay in the fridge. I imagine they are nice and strong from a steady supply of food and water.
Meanwhile, in the KA container, with its larger seed colony, those little sourdough guys may have to fight for the food that’s there and possibly run out before end of the week. I am a little concerned about the long term health of the KA starter. If there is not enough food for all the starter, then I wonder if it will continue to get weaker and weaker. Anyway, I find all this very fascinating. I’m not really sure what I will do with this knowledge yet, but I’ll definitely be keeping a close watch. Perhaps feeding the KA starter more often would help, but I am not sure I want that added complication.
Well, back to the pizza. Here’s my pizza with goat gouda and some unknown hard sheep’s milk cheese. The gouda melted nicely and I would definitely use this again. The sheep’s milk cheese was good, but browned too quickly and did not get the gooey melted texture that is nice on a pizza. It was all still very delicious. The pizza crust was crusty, yet stretchy, really easy to make, and not at all sour.
The boys had their own pizza with asiago cheese. Judging by the silence during our meal, I think they enjoyed it. I will definitely be making sourdough pizzas again.
After all this, my stiff sourdough starter refused to be left out of the action. I took the basic levain recipe from Local Breads and added dried cherries and chopped chocolate. I thought the sweetness of the fruit and the chocolate would pair well with the sourdough tang.
The only thing I am unhappy with is the splotchy appearance of the bread. I wonder what that is about? Sugar level, maybe? It is a nice sweet bread without being too rich and is really nice toasted. When toasted, the chocolate becomes soft and oozy-what’s not to like about that? This is definitely a bread worth getting up for in the morning. With a nice cup of tea and slice of this bread, I think I could face anything.