Meet the newest members of our family: Our white leaven and our rye leaven. These little guys have been taking up more of my time lately than the cat does.
I made these two sourdough starters using the method documented by Dan Lepard in (The Handmade Loaf). They each have their own personalities; the white leaven is bubbly and excitable, the rye is a bit stiff and practical. I love them both.
It's so satisfying making sourdough bread - if you do it right, you can create amazing bubbles in the loaf, and I LOVE that tangy taste. Downside though (and you knew there was going to be one), is that it takes up an entire day of fermenting and rising when baking without commercial yeast.
In an ideal world, I'd be removing leaven to bake with every day, and refreshing the mixture. But since this is confined to being a weekend project, I end up having to throw away a lot of starter when refreshing it during the week. I've found that by keeping the mixture stiff (using the same percentage of flour to water when refreshing), and keeping the mixture in the fridge, I can slow the process down quite a bit, and leave more time between refreshes.
They're a bit temperamental though - notice the labels are ripped, and there's dried flour running down the side? This is because they both seem to get a bit angry in the night, bubble up furiously, and pop their lids. The cat never does that. They both seem to be pretty happy though, and, like the cat, they don't seem to mind if I forget to feed them once in a while.