Seed_Culture

Seed Culture

“Seed Culture” is the first step of making a great sourdough bread. It takes 4 to 5 days. You need to keep adding flour and water to keep it alive.

Day 1:
1 cup dark rye or coarse whole rye (pumpernickel-grind) flour
3/4 cup water, at room temperature

Day 2:
1 cup unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1/2 cup water, at room temperature

Day 3:
1 cup unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1/2 cup water, at room temperature

Day 4:
1 cup unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1/2 cup water, at room temperature

  • Day 1:
    Mix the flour and water together in a bowl until they form a stiff ball of dough. Do not worry if the dough is too stiff, but be sure that all the flour is hydrated. Press the dough into a 4-cup measuring beaker and place a piece of tape on the baker to mark the top of the dough. Cover the beaker with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • Day 2:
    The dough should not have risen much, if at all, during this time. In a mixing bowl, combine Day 2 ingredients with the Day 1 sponge, mixing with your hand or a spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough will be somewhat softer and wetter than the Day 1 sponge. Return this to beaker, pressing it down, and replace the old tape with a new one. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. Do not be put off by the strong, unpleasant aroma of the dough. This will eventually brighten as it nears the finish line.
  • Day 3:
    Check to see if there has been a rise in the dough. There will be some fermentation but not a lot, perhaps a 50% rise. Regardless, discard half of the starter, and mix the remaining half with the Day 3 ingredients, as on the previous day. It will be a little wetter. Again, return this to beaker, pressing it down, and replace the old tape with a new one. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 24 hours at room temperature.
  • Day 4:
    The sponge should have at least double in size; more is even better. If it is still sluggish and hasn’t doubled in size, allow it to sit out for another 12 to 24 hours. Otherwise, repeat as on Day 3, discarding half of the starter, and mixing the remaining half with the Day 4 ingredients, returning it to the beaker as before. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment until it at least doubles in size. This may take 4 to 24 hours. It is OK if it triples in size, but because it is now fairly soft and spongelike, it will not be able to sustain that large of a rise without falling. If it falls easily when you tap the beaker, that is the sign that your seed culture is ready to be turned into a barm, or mother starter.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

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  1. Tebbital
    May 31, 2010 - 05:37 AM

    My rye bread seed culture won’t foam. It’s day three already, and I don’t have a lot of time to start over. I live in a humid climate, and I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Any tips?

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