First of all, let me point you to Caleb Warnock’s blog. Caleb is the author of The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers, and his new book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast: Breads, Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls and Muffins is on pre-order. I have his first book and the second will be shipping my way as soon as it is out. Caleb recently put up a blog post which explained in much more detail how to take care of natural yeast, so I’m happy to say that my starter looks much happier now.
The super short story is that you should grow your yeast out each time from just a little residue so it stays sweet (the point is actually NOT to get a sourdough here), and you should never use so much water that there is water on top of the yeast after if finishes rising. Beware that the “growing out” can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, so you might want to do it the night before.
In any case, my second loaf came out loads better than the first.
And here it is after cutting:
Pretty dense, but definitely bread-like. The taste is not bad, but I think next time I need to add a little more sweetness – I’ll use honey. I also don’t think I let the second rise happen for long enough, and I may have erred on the dry side (too much flour). I wrote down in detail what I did for troubleshooting, but I’m not going to post it because I don’t want someone to come and use it in error. When I get it right (read : super tasty) I will definitely post instructions.
Also, when I can get this right and can vouch for this stuff, I’m going to offer some up to any readers that want it. It’s a little early though – I don’t want to give something away that I haven’t had success with yet. Stay tuned!