Neil's been making our bread pretty regularly now for quite some time, it's definately an art and at first the loaves would be hit and miss but these days they are consistently good and usually only last about five minutes after coming out the oven before being gobbled up. His fancy twisty loaf pictured above was just about as perfect a loaf as he's ever made and it was so pretty too :)
I haven't really mastered the bread making yet although I do whip up a mean soda bread, a very handy skill to have when hungry kids need bread in a hurry. For Neil's bread he uses store bought fresh yeast and in my new homesteading spirit I decided that we could do better than than and culture our own wild yeast in the form of a sourdough starter. With that, Cuthbert was born......
It's much more simple than I thought to begin your own Sourdough starter. It's a simple mix of flour and water left in a warmish spot to magically ferment. Cuthbert needs care and attention. In addition to being kept in a consistently warm spot, every day I need to feed Cuthbert by emptying out about 80 percent and feeding in half a cup of warm water and half a cup of flour. After a week or so you can use your starter to bake a loaf of bread. I was doing well feeding little Cuthbert, in fact he was being fed before every other member of the household, I've discovered that you're better off using a nice organic flour so that you avoid any chemical residues that might be present in a non organic flour from killing off the wild yeast. The same goes for water and that's one thing that presented dear little cuthbert with a problem. I used tap water and being the picky eater that he is, Cuthbert didn't seem to like it. I haven't tested our water but it's quite likely that it has a chlorine content or fluoride content that is too high for Cuthbert and quite frankly not too great for us humans either! I've since discovered that rain water or distilled water are better for cultivating a sourdough starter. Unfortunately it doesn't really matter for poor Cuthbert......Neil killed him.
Yes, Cuthbert, my little bubbly lump of wild yeast, is dead. It is partly my fault, it was a bit chilly in the house the other day and I was worried he might be too cold so I popped him in the oven with the light on just to keep him nice and snug. I forgot to tell Neil he was in there and the next thing I know, Neil's pulling a piping hot pizza out the oven and I'm thinking "Oooo Yummy!" when it suddenly dawns on me that Cuthbert WAS IN THERE!!! He didn't make it. How could he, it was 550F in there!
Let's just take a moment for Cuthbert. RIP friend.
It's probably for the best, I was having visions of having Cuthbert tucked into my sleeping bag while we camped. We'll just have to have another go with Cuthbert II upon our return. I'll keep you posted.