Starter Anxiety: The Feeding Begins Tomorrow

Tonight, I thought I’d peruse the pages of the La Brea Bakery Bread book one last time before tomorrow’s feeding commences. It seems I have the nomenclature wrong: what I have right now is a culture; what I will have tomorrow is a starter. In any case, I’m feeling rather jittery; like the father-to-be-feels out in the waiting room, his wife huffing and puffing two rooms away. This comparison is not too far off. Nancy writes: “During this time, it’s critical that you watch over your starter as a parent watches over a newborn. Don’t miss a feeding!”

What I didn’t read, before I started all this, was the fine print. Tomorrow I will have to do as follows:

First Feeding:

Add 1 cup water and 1.25 cups unbleached white flour to 2 cups starter.

Ok, no big deal.

Then, 4 to 6 hours later:

Add 2 cups water and 2.25 cups flour to the mix.

Got it. That’s not so bad.

Then, 4 to 6 hours later…

Add 4 cups water and 5 CUPS flour.

5 cups of flour! That is a lot of flour! That is a whole bag of flour!

And the thing is, the next day you “pour off all but 2 cups of starter.” And do it all again until Day 15. I will be going through bags and bags of flour!

But that’s not the worst part. I foolishly read ahead to the actual breadmaking chapter. You think making a starter is hard? Read Nancy’s breadmaking specifics:

“Get a reading of the room temperature and the temperature of your flour. These measures will help you determine how hot or cold the water should be. (The water temperature recommended here assumes that the room you’re working in is room temperature, 70 to 75 degrees F. You should always double-check this before starting)…For every degree above 73 degrees F, reduce your water temperature one degree. For every degree below 73 degrees F, increase your water temperature one degree.”

Perhaps my griping is misplaced: after all, Nancy wants me to have good bread. Fair enough… but good Lord, look how many steps it takes just to get through DAY ONE of the two-day bread making process:

– Planning

– Initial Mixing

– Kneading

– Autolyse: A Moment of Rest

– Salt and the Final Mix

– Fermenting: The First Rise

– Mise En Tourne: Preshaping

– Shaping

– Proofing: Intermediate Rise

– Proofing: Retarding

And that’s just Day One!

DAY TWO, when I finally get to make the bread (God, this bread better taste good), there’s more:

– Proofing

– Preparing The Oven

– Docking: Cutting The Loaf

– Baking

– and, Cooling.

Nancy cruelly instructs, at the end: “Try to resist cutting into the loaf and eating it before it is cool. The sourdough flavor doesn’t fully develop until the bread is cool; the open interior also looks better after you let it set.”

Am I done bitching yet? NO!

For I also realized that I’m lacking in several breadmaking tools. I had to go to kingarthurflour.com and order $77.42 worth of equipment and ingredients that includes:

– a Baker’s Peel

– Dough-Rising Basket (I already bought one; but I’ll need two since these recipes make 2 loaves each)

– Wheat Germ

– Insta-Read Thermometer

Luckily, King Arthur throws in Free Easter Decorations. Now I have to convert to Christianity too!

***Dramatic pause.***

Ok, I feel better now. That was good to vent. Ahhhh. Who’s ready to make bread?

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