A Journey Unfolds…

Wild Mustang Grapes


Begin the Process to Yeast Conversion



Do Not Wash Your Grapes…


Wild yeasts exist on the surface of grapes.  When preparing a grape starter, use organic grapes.  Also, when creating your starter (this is sometimes referred to as, Mother), organic flour is preferred.

I gathered a small batch of grapes while walking thru our local park one morning.  Once home, I went to work Googling how to begin a starter using grapes.

The grapes were squeezed and placed into a clean mason jar, covered, and allowed to sit for four days.  Removing the lid, it was obvious that things had become lively.  Note photo #4 in the first row.  Fungi and mold had begun their work on the grapes.  It was now time to skim the surface and discard the mass (relatively easy, it peeled away from the juices, seeds and remainder of the skins, and was discarded into the compost pail).  Next, I poured the mixture into a small strainer and separated the skins and seeds from the juice (once again dumping the discards).  I measured out my juice, a mere three tablespoons, added three tablespoons of water to it, and enough flour to make a heavy paste-like consistency starter.  Mixed thoroughly, and covered with a tight wrapping of plastic wrap, this sat, untouched for approximately three days.  (Time variance depends upon temperature, wild yeast activity and a little bit of luck.)  Some people report that they see activity, bubbling of yeast, at one day.  I saw very little and opted to push my parameters.

On the third day I noted a very active culture.  I removed half of it (tossed the remnants into the compost pail), and replenished the starter with more water and flour.  I continued to dump and retain for a period of about three weeks.  NOTE:  It is not necessary to discard the take-away, it can be used in your waffle, pancake or any other pastry items.  Simply convert by using Baker’s Math (Google, it’s out there, and it’s REAL!).

Into my fourth week, I began discarding less starter and adding more water and flour.  NOTE:  Flour weighs approximately one half the amount of water.  Keep this in mind.  You will want to ALWAYS add twice the amount of flour to the water ratio.) The speed and consistency of the build were determined by how quickly the starter began to bubble, drop and rise.  (Don’t be fooled, this is not a difficult process to learn and is easily explained in detail by many resources.  I will also be happy to explain further, just zip me a note in your reply.) Also, at the fourth week, I began adding more flour than water, opting for a thicker, and heavier build.  This allows for a stronger sourdough flavor.

Is it baking day yet?  Nope!  ( I’ve been baking sourdough bread from a seed starter for several years and have grown accustomed, as you will, to “flying by the seat of my pants,” or as others might say, “winging it!”)  It was time to appropriate for a recipe that could convert for those trying this for the very first time.  I went back to my all time favorite bread baker, Peter Reinhart, and referenced his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. 

I chose to retard my dough, twice, overnight, this allowed for a continued enhancement of dough flavor, and some time for me to plan my days around when I wanted to bake.  A firm starter was compiled using a measured portion of my starter, a percentage of flour along with a designated amount of water.  These were mixed together, lightly sprayed with oil, covered in plastic wrap and allowed to ferment for about five hours before being refrigerated.



Almost, but not quite ready to bake!  The firm starter is removed from the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature (approximately one hour, maybe longer, depending upon kitchen temperatures).  Now cut the firm starter into ten small pieces.  The remaining ingredients: flour, salt, and additional water are then measured, combined, along with the addition of the pieces of the firm starter until all are thoroughly mixed.  Move the dough onto a lightly floured counter top and knead by hand for twelve to fifteen minutes.  It should pass the windowpane test (The Kitchn has an excellent tutorial here.)

Lightly oil a large bowl, placing your dough and covering it with plastic wrap.  Allow it to ferment at room temperature for three to four hours or until it has nearly doubled in size.

Gently remove the dough and divide it into two equal portions.  Mine came to 22 ounces each (I cheated, using a baker’s scale, but one is not necessary…just eyeball it the best you can).  Shape it into boules, batards or baguettes; I chose boules, they simply are the easiest shaping method for me.  Now mist the shaped pre-baked dough with oil, or gently rub with an oil of choice.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap, being careful to leave enough room for expansion, but not open to air.  Place the covered items into the refrigerator.

HINT:  I opted to use a large cookie sheet, first placing a piece of oiled parchment down, setting my boules atop, sprayed, with room apart, onto the sheet,  I then topped them with a sprayed sheet of parchment before covering them lightly with plastic wrap before they went into the refrigerator.  


The Journey’s End


Wake up!  We’ve arrived and we are ready to bake, ALMOST!  Remove the dough from the refrigerator (Do not remove the plastic wrap just yet), and allow the shaped dough to sit for approximately four hours before you bake.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  (The preferred method of baking is to add steam to the oven right as the loaves are placed.  To do so, take an old roasting pan, set it one shelf down from your baking shelf.  Have it in the oven as you are preheating.  Once the bread is placed, pour a cup of hot water into the pan.)  BE CAREFUL, STEAM IS NOT ONLY DANGEROUS TO YOU, BUT WATER SPILT UPON OVEN GLASS WILL CAUSE THE GLASS TO SHATTER,  LAY A HEAVY BATH TOWEL OVER THE FACE OF THE GLASS BEFORE POURING.  THIS PROTECTION WITH SAVE YOU HEARTACHE AND MONEY.  Trust me, I know from personal experience.  An alternate method of steaming is to use a spray bottle.  Once your loaves are placed, spritz the sides and back of the oven with water.  FIVE MINUTES into baking, lower your oven temperature to 450 degrees.  At ten minutes, rotate your loaves 180 degrees.  Close oven and continue to bake for ten to fifteen minutes.  The internal loaf temperature should register between 185 degrees to 195 degrees, Fahrenheit.



Allow bread to cool for 30 to 40 minutes before slicing.  Also, do not store baked bread in plastic wrap, but rather, place it cut side, down, and cover with a towel.  Sourdough bread is treated differently than sandwich breads.  Enjoy!

~ by coffeegrounded on August 10, 2017.

%d bloggers like this: