Herman is amazing. Herman is my pet, Herman is my confidant, Herman is my constant companion...Herman is my sourdough starter.
My latest fascination is with fermentation. Over the last several weeks I have become obsessed with the idea of pickling, krauting, canning,kambutchaing, keifer...ing? I want to make stuff and I want it sour and I want it stewing in its own juices! This all really began with Herman.
About two months ago I ran across a recipe for a sweet sourdough stater whilst looking for bread recipes and I decided to give it a shot. I remembered my mom constantly trying to keep something she called "Herman" alive and eventually forgetting all about it in our pantry until one day she would throw it out with a look of disgust. Most people I asked about sourdough starters, including Mom told me not to bother, I would certainly forget about it and kill the thing before any tasty treats would be made. My mom however does not have the obsession with "making shit happen" that I have. As soon as you tell me to forget something, it is pretty much a guarantee it will become my new passion.
If you have ever made a sourdough you know the basic recipe. Yeast, flour, water. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Feed. Lather, Rinse, Repeat, culinary delights ensue.
I had never made a sourdough starter before. I picked the first recipe off the web and went to work. Research is NOT my thing.
The original recipe I had called for milk and sugar every 5th day. On the 15th day of the stir, stir, stir, stir feed, stir....cycle, I was super excited to make some breads and get me some sour-dough in my face. We used a recipe from Instructables to make a no knead sourdough artisan bread. We made chowder to have it dipped in. The house smelled outstanding. We were ready for that first bite, I slathered it in butter, took in the aroma, put it in my mouth...It tasted like...nothing. Not even bread really. It had the right texture. The right chew. But it had nothing in the sourdough department or the yeasty bready department we were looking for.
Never one to give up, I fled to the internets and searched for a reason. Turns out, most sourdough recipes do NOT call for sugar, nor milk. I was aghast. Perhaps READING the recipe, other than the instructions and ingredients may have prevented this...but who is to say really?
I started immediately eliminating the milk and sugar from Herman's feedings and instead adding only water and flour. The flour itself has enough sugar to keep the yeast going without any other help. I went back to my 4 days stir, 1 day feed schedule for 2 more weeks before attempting another experiment in Herman cooking. (so violent)
After 2 weeks, I found a recipe for sourdough pancakes that made my mouth absolutely water. Please see said recipe HERE. Warily, I approached Herman's jar. Upon opening the lid I saw that he had that fine layer of liquid on top the interwebs had said he would. He smelled like a miner from the 1800's and definitely evoked the feeling of fermentation I had been looking for. We had a talk. We decided that sourdough pancakes were too cool to pass up. It was time he and I got down to business and started working WITH each other, and not against. We came to an accord. In the end, the pancakes were AMAZING. Sour, light, delicious. We top them with brown rice syrup or honey and we don't get that nasty carb hangover we always got from buttermilk cakes.
Over the last month Herman and I have been trying some new things. I have switched him to an entirely whole wheat diet. This seems to agree with his digestion more than the white bread flour I was using. He is always hoochy and bubbly. I also haven't divided him since like the second week I made him. I gave some to a couple of friends and then no one wanted the responsiblity of an edible pet monster so I haven't handed any out. Because I am pathologically incapable of throwing away food (or most things really) I haven't divided him at all since. If anyone knows whether this is causing my bread to mutate into some sort of yeast beast I would like to know because all I know is he tastes awesome.
To date we have made using Herman:
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
No Knead Sourdough Bread (whole wheat and white) both awesome
Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread
Sourdough Tortillas-whole wheat, we are still perfecting this one
and Sourdough English Muffins
Herman an I have grown rather fond of each other. Boss refers to him as another member of our family. Pinkone takes her turn feeding him and talking to him to make sure he is well loved and cared for. In return he fills our bellies with delicious taste treats at least once a week. There are thousands of links for creating your own starter if you only consult the Oracle. I would post mine here...but it doesn't actually exist.
Here is one that is similar from My Sisters Kitchen or you can take the Gnowfglins Sourdough E-course and learn about ALL OF THE THINGS!!!
Tell us about your favorite monster?
*update: prior to this posting Herman passed on. His jar was contaminated by some unknown substance. We have not ruled out sabotage by other bread products wishing to be as awesome, or possibly the dog, looking for attention. Either way, Herman 2.0 has been created today and will hopefully live up to his predecessors delightful flavor. RIP Herman.
[caption id="attachment_975" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="quite similar to Herman"][/caption]