Who's afraid of yeast? Lots of people, it turns out... Those tiny micro-organisms can intimidate the most experienced cooks and bring fear to the hearts of many bakers. They are kind of finicky and like to be treated as royalty; the right food, a little sweetness, moderate temperatures, gentle handling and the list goes on... In return for that royal treatment, these little hungry critters do reward the diligent baker with pillowy dough, crunchy breads, sugary treats - and for all of that - I am mighty grateful!
The recent rise of gluten intolerance, has made me curious about its causes. There are plenty of resources to read about the challenges our digestive system faces when we consume commercially produced baked goods. Here is one that's more accessible (Michael Pollan on Gluten and fermentation)
Thus began my quest to bake more homemade bread, creating my own sourdough starter. That was about a year and a half ago, or should I say many loaves ago?
I named my starter Sadie (for sourdough) and treated her like a star. For the first 4 weeks I fed her Heritage wheat flour, mineral water and sunshine. Like the Diva she is, she basked in my care and sent bubbles of yeasty joy my way. Soon after - soft and buttery rolls, crunchy baguettes, hearty chocolate cherry loaf, savory pretzels, Swedish cardamom buns - came rolling out of my oven. A partnership was born! In return for her continued cooperation, I let Sadie rest in the fridge for about a week and then wake her up for a scheduled feeding.
So now, I am off to test Sadie's abilities in a totally different direction. Sourdough chocolate cake? Sourdough cinnamon crumb cake? How well will she perform? Will the cake be sour? The crumb tender? Will it have the texture of a tender cake or a yeast dough? I LOVE trying the unknown and being surprised by the results... Not always great... However - ALWAYS fun!!
Maybe I am just a mad scientist at heart. Sure feel like one at times!