Following on from my day at River Cottage learning how to make bread, and my attempts at a ‘Soulful White’ loaf, I decided to seize the bull by the horns and try and make my own Sourdough starter.
I have read about Sourdough before (there is a great novel, can’t remember what it is called, or who wrote it, but the main character bakes sourdough bread, and it sounds really idyllic and a bit romantic!) but always been a but intimidated by it. So inspired by our tutor at River Cottage, Aidan from The Phoenix Bakery, I decided to give it a go.
Aidan’s ‘recipe’ is quite simple. Every day, add 50g of flour and 50ml of water to a bowl and mix. Do this for 10 days. On the 10th day, pour away half of your starter (you can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to use in panckaes/Yorkshire puddings/ordinary bread) and add 100g flour and 100ml water (this is called ‘refreshing your starter’). Leave for 12-24hrs, then it is ready to use!
I thought I would share with you the ‘birth’ of Kenneth, my sourdough starter, and the worries that I had along the way, in the hope that it might inspire some of you to give it a go too!
50g flour+5oml water. Mix well. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature.
I used wholemeal bread flour, but you can use any kind of flour you want-white, rye, wholemeal etc.
It makes a kind of thick paste, and I thought I must have done something wrong (but how wrong can you go with those simple instructions..?!)
I started off using a glass jar, but this soon got too small, so Kenneth moved home to an old lunchbox on about day 5 or 6
Uncover your starter. Have a look and a smell. If you look closely, you might see the odd bubble or two beginning to form. This is good if you do, but don’t panic if there aren’t any.
Add 50g flour and 50ml water and mix it all together
You should hopefully be seeing some definite bubbles by now. Again, don’t panic if not, my general impression is that starters are temperamental buggers, and a bit of a law unto themselves
Repeat you flour and water and mixing.
The starter should start to bubble and be increasing in size, and should smell pleasantly yeasty.
Mine was going great guns until about day 7 when it started to develop a layer of clear/greyish liquid on the top, and began to smell a bit like vomit. PANIC!!!!
I did some reading up, and found out that the liquid was called hooch, and is basically alcohol. I was slightly upset that I had possibly killed poor Kenneth, so I tweeted Aidan in a bit of a panic, and he advised to just keep feeding and stirring and he should pull through. I was very sceptical. At this point, I moved him to his new house (lunchbox) as I wasn’t sureif the narrow openingon the jar meant that he wasn’t getting enough air?
By day 9 Kenneth smelt BAD. Of vomit. And I couldn’t really contemplate ever adding to something I was going to eat…
But by Day 10, he had turned the corner, and was all bubbly and sweet smelling again-hurray!
But I forgot to take a picture-DOH!
So, on Day 10, I ‘refreshed’ him, ready to make my very first sourdough loaf the next day…
If you aren’t going to use you starter straight away, you either need to keep feeding it every day, or you can put it in the fridge, covered with a tea towel, without feeding him for up to 14 days. The day beofre you want to bake you read, take your starter out of the fridge, ‘refresh’ it, and leave it at room temperature overnight.
Stay glued to your seats for the sourdough loaf post….