Starting Starter

Starting Starter

This isn’t the first time I’ve made a dough starter, but it feels like it. I killed the first starter soon after using it for a batch of sourdough waffles. Your honor, in my defense, I was young — a teenager — and not prepared or willing to care for an immortal. I haven’t felt any need to start a starter since then.

But, I’ve really wanted to make the baguette and pizza crust Dave, a friend of mine, makes. It took a while to get the recipe, not because he and Kate (his wife) are unwilling to share, but because I couldn’t remember to write down a few ingredients. One night when at their house for dinner I finally remembered to snap a picture in between action shots of us all. Both recipes are held to their fridge with a magnet. Yup, they’re those kinds of recipes. Everyday, no fuss, hey let’s have pizza for dinner tonight recipes.

I didn’t read them then. A few days later I dragged the pics into a readable size. Both the pizza crust and the baguette require starter. I even confirmed that this was the feed it to keep it alive starter that takes a working week to create and not some other type of starter that I had never heard of. That was the end then. I’d never get around to making these myself because I was still unprepared and unwilling to care for an immortal.

It took me two attempts to make this starter. The first was too dry — too much flour or too little water or both — so it got dumped after a day. If you think this paragraph is an abrupt change you’re right. It is. Because I abruptly changed my mind one evening. It was late and I looked up one starter recipe online and went for it. The dishes were even washed. I only make peppermint tea after the dishes have been washed.

Like my few* surviving plants this starter — second attempt starter — needs to be self-sufficient. It isn’t going to be named or coddled. Its food isn’t going to be measured with a scale. There is no way I will take it anywhere to ensure an on-time feeding. It will get fed. At least for a time. Until I forget. The starter knows all this.

The starter is one week old now. (I’ve decided its age is counted from the time it is ready to be used rather than from the day you first mix together flour and water.) Even if by some chance the starter lives until my death (which will be really impressive so long as I don’t trip over my own feet too badly anytime in the next few weeks) I expect it will get thrown out along with all the other spoiling food. I don’t foresee it ever becoming a centenarian. It will not be willed to anyone.

Even if it does die early I’m not going to feel bad. The bread is tasty.

* It really is three plants! I started to cross that out and right two, but then I realized there are three surviving plants. Unless weeds count. They grow in a pot. Not all of the pots have weeds. Do those count?


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