Starter Me Up?

I spent the afternoon reading 68 pages of Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery. This was one of my birthday gifts, and I was very excited about diving in and making delicious bread. Turns out that “diving in” happens in bread-making the way pyrotechnics happen at a PGA tournament. (Forgive that last sentence, I’m tired).

Basically, what Nancy’s book is telling me is that I have to grow a “starter.” This involves mixing flour and water in a bowl and then adding grapes wrapped in cheesecloth and letting it sit for 14 days. Sounds simple enough. Except that you have to “feed” the starter three times a day and pander to its every whim. If the starter is angry, you have to console it; if the starter is quiet, you have to shake it up. The starter sounds a lot like my brother.

Most troubling, though, is that even if I took the time to develop and feed a starter, by the time the starter is ready to use I’ll be off on my whirlwind Spring Break tour to New York and Florida. And who will be there to feed my starter? I can barely find someone to feed my cat.

Oh Nancy, what have you done to me? I’m suffering from starter guilt. I could have spent the afternoon finishing the last 100 pages of “100 Years of Solitude” which I’ve been reading for what seems like 100 years. Or I could have, crazy enough, caught up on my reading for school: I’m only about 8000 pages behind. But no, I read all about bread–all about starters, and baskets, and types of flour (Rye vs. Whole Wheat vs. Semolina). Do I really need to know which type of flour dough absorbs quicker? Do I really need to know that when misting your oven you should avoid spraying the bread itself because it will discolor the outer surface?

Man cannot read about bread alone.

1 comment

  1. Great funny post, at least for a bread obsessed like me. There’s a few tricks to keep your starter when you’re away (in case you really want to try this out, leav hope all that enter!):

    -you can keep the starter in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. It will need a couple of “feedings” to get back into shape but it won’t die

    -once your starter is ready, dilute it with water to get a thick batter and spread it thin on saran wrap. Let it dry: you’ll get something like dry lasagne. This will last forever. Once you need it dissolve it in water, add some flour and feed it a couple of times and ta-dah there’s your starter.

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