I have not baked bread before. I think I have “made” bread in the bread maker, but I have never actually made bread by hand from start to finish. Last week I started working on a sourdough starter that uses kefir to provide the flora. On Thursday B used the starter to make some white French baguettes that were quite tasty. She used the starter only, no added yeast. This is what I was hoping for; a sourdough that is strong enough to work on it’s own. So I started throwing ingredients together yesterday. Some whole wheat flour, some white. Honey, olive oil, and rosemary and it was ready to rise.
I left it overnight, and it just about doubled. When I tipped it onto the baking sheet it deflated, so I let it rise some more. I was feeling a little impatient, so I put it into the warm (100F) oven for a while. It rose again, but it was obvious that it would overflow the baking sheet, and the surface was drying out. I decided to punch it down, and split it. The dry parts and the caked flour added a whole lot of character. After about 30 minutes at 450F in the oven they were done, and smelled great. The rosemary was really coming out!
I did not use a specific recipe or follow any directions, but I did what we usually do in our house when we are thinking about cooking something new: I browsed through several sourdough recipes, looked at a few forums, and then just went at it. i could probably write it all down, but I am not sure I would call it a success, maybe just a non-failure.
I will tell you how I made my starter. After encouraging stories from Peter and his kefir sourdough success, I looked around on the Internet to see how others were making their kefir starter. There seem to be many variations, so I just did what i thought would work. I mixed some flour and water together to make a watery paste, and then added kefir. I added enough flour to make a batter and then left it on the counter. The next day I fed it some more flour and a little more water. It had started bubbling by that time, and looked like pancake batter. I did the same thing that night, and the next morning. By the end of the second full day, it smelled and tasted quite sour, and had begun to foam around the edges. B used 4/5 of it, and I used what was left to start over. Pretty easy, if you have kefir handy, and it does not take the week or so that traditional sourdough starter takes to get going (so I hear).