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Sourdough adventures…the ‘starter’!

May 16, 2009

My sourdough ‘starter’ frothing away…after a week of ‘feeding’ it!

We’ve got a busy weekend lined up with a conference, friends for lunch and a ‘Norwegian day’/30th birthday celebration so I’m catching a quiet cuppa in still house before the craziness (but fun) begins!

I’ve been experimenting with sourdough over the past few weeks and have my 4th attempt of a loaf in the oven as we speak but I thought I’d document my progress so far…

I have read and read SO many different recipes and ways of going about it; and tried and failed with some of the methods, so I’m desperately trying to come up with my own…which will be a culmination of my research!

My personal brief is to make it as simple, cheap and nutritious as possible…hmmmm, not too much to ask for hey?!!

Have a look at Serene making it for her household of 10 below (remember to switch off the music in the side bar first); she makes it look SO easy – I love watching this, and it inspired me to give it a go but her method is very personal; I really need EXACT instructions!

(…if you enjoyed this you can find part 2 on you tube)

So, the first thing you need to ‘create’ is the ‘starter’; this is fun to watch and a great learning tool for children as you are basically ‘catching’ the wild yeast from the air and over a week or so you can watch it grow and develop.

SO simple; in a clean ceramic, glass or plastic bowl put 1 cup of flour (some say rye flour catches the yeast better, so if you’ve got it in your cupboard give it go), quite honestly I used bog standard plain white flour (46p from Tesco!) and 1 cup of warm/tepid water. Now I know we don’t usually use ‘cups’ here in the UK but it is SO much easier to measure out than getting your weighing scales out every morning, so go along to your local supermarket (I got mine from Tesco for about 30p) and pick up a ‘cup’ measuring jug. Stir the flour and water together with a wooden or plastic spoon (not metal, not good for the ‘wildness’ of it all!!) and leave the bowl uncovered (in a place where children and pets can not touch it!) and leave for 24 hours.

Next morning, get up, into the kitchen and ‘feed’ your ‘starter pet’ another cup of flour and another cup of water…and so on for 7 days. Change your container every couple of days for another clean (bigger) one. After a couple of days before you ‘feed’ the starter you can take a cup of the mixture out as it will grow to a huge amount otherwise, then feed it a fresh cup of flour and water. After 5 days my starter began to bubble (very exciting!!), after 7 days it was frothing and bubbling and smelled like beer (!).

Once your starter has caught the wild yeast and is ‘active’ you can keep it in your fridge (don’t put a tight lid on, it needs a bit of air) and feed it twice a week or so.

I attempted to make the bread after 6 days but I don’t think the starter was mature enough (I had used cheap flour after all!!), so the bread didn’t rise too well (see picture at the bottom), my starter has been active for 14 days now and last night my dough doubled in size beautifully! I’m sure if you do more research and use ‘better’ bread flours etc. the process will happen quicker but I wasn’t in a rush and really wanted to keep the cost low.

As I am still in experimental stage and am baking a couple of times a week, I’ve kept my starter in this lovely ceramic jar that I picked up and I feed it every day, it’s SO healthy and frothy – the kids love watching it!

I love bargains! I picked this up from a charity shop for 60p (about one dollar?)

Lots of lovely bubbles!

My first attempt, ok – but didn’t rise very well…still got eaten!

As I mentioned, I’ve tried various recipes and my first attempt (Serenes recipe) was the best so far, which actually was a bit of a guess recipe trying to figure it out from her huge quantities!

I made a batch with stone ground wheat flour which turned out like a soggy heavy brick!

The loaf in the oven right now has been made with a slight mix of wholegrain and white flour and is looking GREAT; so once I’ve mastered the bread I will post a second instalment…watch this space!

If you have already mastered this and are a sourdough pro PLEASE let me (us) know…although I do like the ‘figure it out for yourself’ method, it’s like a scientific experiment! I’m not intending to become an expert and definitly not heading towards ‘sourdough snob’ status (not with my cheap four!!) but I hope to make this a regular part of our family meal table.

One thing I do know is that my starter is spot on – yeah!

Have a great weekend – off to get my bread out of the oven (and take a picture…but you’ll have to wait for that!)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2009 1:32 pm

    I’ve never tried sourdough. I did try soda bread once…that was a bit of a failure!

  2. May 17, 2009 1:54 am

    I was just reading about this in Above Rubies (it arrived today!) and thinking that I need to try it again! I did it years ago and loved it. I know my boys would love it. Thanks for the encouragement!Chrys

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