I was talking to a fellow book lover the other day about Anthony Bourdain's lauded Kitchen Confidential and how I always break into a fit of giggles over the bread scene. Evidently, at one point, Bourdain has a bread savant working for him. However, this gentleman was also a drug addict and low-level criminal who would frequently call into work. Bourdain reports this employee calling the restaurant in hysterics about his enormous starter, shrieking into the phone, "FEED THE BITCH! FEED HER OR SHE'LL DIE!" I really wanted a starter pretty much so I could make similar phone calls to my husband. However, in the interest of both feminism and not plagiarizing, I couldn't go with anything with b@#$% in the title. Hence, The Kneady Bastard was born.
That's some silliness, in my opinion. Out of curiosity, I looked into what purchasing a starter entails. They range from $9-$50 and come with all sorts of unnecessary equipment. To get started, all you need is a cup of warm skim milk (90-100 degrees), three tablespoons of plain, active yogurt, a cup of bread flour, and a glass jar. A starter is just a liquid-ish piece of dough that is well into the fermentation process and adds the sour flavor and extra air bubbles to the bread.
|Notice I took the orange sealing ring out of the lid so the jar wouldn't be air tight.|
|Dough in the pot (Dutch Oven, sort of. My enameled Dutch Oven is giant--to big for a bread loaf).|
Simplified recipes to follow:
- 1 cup skim milk, heated to 90-100 degrees
- 3 T. active, plain yogurt (I used Fage)
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 non-airtight container, like a jar with cheesecloth and a rubberband, or a jar like mine with the rubber ring removed
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 t. dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 t. salt
- 2/3 cup starter
- 1 1/2 cup water
- cornmeal, for dusting