This month, the challenge for Daring Bakers was to make a sourdough starter, and then make a loaf.
I admit that this challenge didn’t really appeal to me. First off, I don’t really like making bread (that’s more of D’s thing). Second, while I don’t personally work with bacteria at work, a number of my coworkers do, and I don’t really like the smell of little bugs working their way through my flour. Third, maintaining a sourdough starter is a bit like taking care of a plant, and I don’t even do that overly well. =]
But… I finally went out to our local co-op and purchased some nice, organic, local, whole-wheat flour. It looked delicious, and I was excited to see what kind of lactobacilli I could culture out of it.
To cut to the chase, I had to throw the starter out. You’re supposed to culture in a warm place (~80*F). Is now a good time to remind everyone that I live in the Midwest, and the highest my place gets in the winter is 69*F? On a warm day? So even after several days, the starter was a thick and nasty paste instead of a gloopy, carbon dioxide-producing machine. There were some other problems too, and it eventually just became too much of a hassle to bother with. Maybe another time D will try to make a sourdough, but for now, I’m not sure it’s for me.
Any tips from the cold weather bakers out there? Is there something I should have tried? I’d rather not leave a space heater going all day in the house, but I don’t know of any other way to get the starter going!