Day 6: Starter Anxiety and an Enterprising Phonecall

My starter is starting to freak me out. Look:

It’s separated into two layers: liquid and solid; purple and white. Is this normal?

According to the book, a layer of yellow liquid may appear, but it doesn’t sound as drastic as what’s happening in my Tupperware.

Being the enterprising person that I am, I decided to do something about it. I decided to call the source of my bread-making anxiety. I decided to call The La Brea Bakery…

The woman who answered the phone said: “La Brea Bakery.”

“Hi,” I stammered. “I’m trying to make a starter using your cookbook and I was wondering if I could talk to somebody about it.”

“Excuse me?” she said, more confused than rude.

“Can I talk to somebody about breadmaking?”

“Oh,” she said. “Well, here, call this number and ask to speak to Brad or John.”

She gave me a number.

“Thanks!” I said. I called it. I asked to speak to Brad or John. I spoke to John.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m the Amateur Gourmet, you may have heard of me? I was prominently featured on CNN and the Celine Dion message board?”

“No,” he said.

“Well, anyway, I’m trying to make a starter using the La Brea Bakery cookbook and I’m a little freaked out.”

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Well I’m on Day 6 and it’s all separated.” I began to cry. “There’s a layer of purple liquid and a layer of solid and no more bubbles.”

“There there,” he said. “Don’t cry. That’s perfectly normal.”

“It is?”

“Did you have any activity before it separated out?” he prodded.

“Yes,” I answered through sniffles. “There was a lot of activity on Day 3.”

“Then perfect,” he said cheerfully, “the hard part is over! That means you captured the yeast. Now it’s just gaining flavor. When you feed it again on Day 10 it will come back to life. It will be bubbly just like before when you start feeding it.”

“It will?”

A piano began to play.

“The starter will rise tomorrow,” he sang, “Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, it will rise.”

“Thanks so much!”

“When I’m stuck with a day, that’s gray, and yeasty…”

“Umm, I have to go now.” I hung up.

What a nice guy! I feel so much better! Just goes to show you should never be afraid to pick up a phone and make a call. Reach out and touch someone.

5 thoughts on “Day 6: Starter Anxiety and an Enterprising Phonecall”

  1. You have nerves of steel Amateur Gourmet! I salute you. A couple loaves of that silly “Amish friendship bread” and I was done with starter fo good. I would have freaked.

  2. Why purple? The grapes? Your starter needs to consult a personal shopper. In my experience, your starter looks like a “Spring” and purple just *isn’t* the color for springs. Your started would look better in a soft yellow or light blue.


  3. Yay! I’m so inspired by your adventure. That was a great idea to call them! Hmm, I wonder if I could get Martha on the line, since that one cookie recipe didn’t really work out … nah, she’s got other stuff on her mind.

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