I never thought I'd be excited about the smell of "stinky cheese". Never say never. Because last night my culture was perfectly ripe. There were three signs that the culture was ready: the sharp smell (stinky cheese), the taste (slightly acidic) and the look (dark layer of crust over the top).
Here's what that crust looked like.
And here is what was underneath the crust when I peeled it back. Note the bubbles that surfaced. That's a good sign!
So, this morning I began the next phase of making bread: training the culture into a lively and predictable starter. At this stage in the process I discard 80% of the starter every 24 hours (before work) and mix the remaining 20% with new flour and water. Nothing to report thus far, but I imagine it will take a few days to see the effects of training. I have a slight suspicion that this starter and I will form a special bond. Next to my husband, it's the thing I look forward to seeing the most in the morning, when I get home from work, and before I go to bed.
Here's what the starter looked like after the first feeding today. I noted that the temperature in the apartment was 69 degrees; ideally it should be between 65 and 75 degrees. The book also advises you to use equal parts flour and water. So, I used about 1/4 Cup of each and stored the container in a shaded spot on the counter (uncovered). Now it's time to wait...
I also wanted to give my starter a little "training" theme song. Something to get it motivated and active. Let's see if it works.