Growing up, I never had a pet. I always lobbied for a dog or a bunny, but I have a brother who used to be severely asthmatic. So, I lobbied for a new brother. I got fish instead.
My seed culture became my pet. When there was a draft in the kitchen, I kept the jar in my bedroom. I called/texted my dad regularly throughout the day to remind him to stir the fermented flour. I cleaned the jar and monitored its growth constantly.
I had plans to spend a weekend in Manhattan, but I certainly did not have plans to leave my mature and bubbly mother starter at home. I carried the green bowl in my lap through the Holland Tunnel, determined to serve fresh sourdough on Sunday morning.
When I first started reading about Malin Emlid and her Bread Exchange, she made an interesting point -one reason she doesn’t sell her bread is because it would be nearly impossible for her to put a price tag on it. I thought she was a bit crazy at first. I make baguettes all the time, and constantly tell friends that anyone can do it, that the amount of active time is heavily outweighed by the amount of rising time. How much more work could sourdough possibly be? I had overcome a major hurdle in creating my own mother starter, hadn’t I?
I started making my sourdough at 4pm on Sunday and did not pull it from the oven until 11:30am the next day. Making a sourdough loaf is an intensive process that requires commitment to constant folding and proofing times. Not using any commercial yeast will play its part. I had spent nearly a full day working on a dough that would turn out two loaves of sourdough. It’s a lot of work! I sat in bed with my aunt, watching TV and running out to the kitchen during the odd commercial break to fold my dough. I felt like a surgeon at times, moving around with my doughy hands up, careful not to touch anything.
I had originally intended to make pan au levain, but since I had forgotten my whole wheat flour, I proceeded to make San Francisco Sourdough instead. I’ve been to SF twice, and each time I go I make a beeline for the salted caramel macarons at Citizen Cake and the oysters at Hog Island Oyster in the Ferry Building. I’ve never sampled the local sourdough, despite its acclaim. Sourdough seed cultures from SF have a bacteria (the good kind) that is indigenous only to the Bay Area. Otherwise, San Francisco Sourdough differs from pan au levain in that its starter contains only white bread flour, where pan au levain has a mixture of white and whole wheat.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, my SF Sourdough does not come out of the oven looking like someone sliced a piece off it. It just looks like that when I, you know, slice a piece off it. Girl’s got to have her breakfast!