One of the things that I left behind when I moved to Portland from Maine was my 11 year old sourdough starter. Hard as it was to leave it (I had made it myself, kept it alive with regular additions of flour and water, and used it as the basis for many great loaves), I didn’t see a way to get it through security at the airport, or to safely transport it in my checked bags.
Lately, as the days get shorter and the air begins to cool, I have been thinking about building a new starter. Wanting to avoid the use of commercial yeast, I ran down my list of favorite cooking blogs and found Michael Ruhlman’s relatively recent sourdough starter post. Ruhlman directed me to his inspiration, the Two Sisters, who provide a recipe that uses red cabbage leaves as a source of wild yeast.
Of course, I didn’t have any red cabbage. Unable to wait for a trip to the farmer’s market, I decided to experiment with what I did have: radicchio.
Other than this, I followed the Two Sisters’ recipe, mostly.
I rinsed the outermost radicchio leaf in 2 cups of warm water,
combined the water (and whatever yeast I hoped to have captured from the radicchio leaf) with one pound of flour (I used 1 ounce of organic whole wheat flour and 15 ounces of organic, unbleached all-purpose, white flour),
in a large bowl,
mixed it up well,
put in into a container with a cover, and set it aside for about 12 hours.
At that point, the Sisters’ recipe suggested that I add another two cups of water and another full pound of flour. Instead, I followed my usual sourdough “feeding” approach and added about 1/2 cup each of flour and water, stirred it well and left the mixture to sit overnight.
This morning my starter was alive! After I returned it to the bowl and gave it a stir, I could see bubbles of CO2 on the surface, with more slowly rising as I watched.
I added another 1/2 cup of flour and water, stirred it again and left it to ferment some more. After a few more hours, even more bubbles have appeared.
Next step, bread!