sourdough September

This September is all about bread and sourdough in particular. The Good Bread Campaign wants to get us excited about sourdough.  Buying it and eating it (in my case slathered thickly in so much butter you can leave teeth marks) and even better, getting people to give sourdough making a go at home.

 Bruce and Reggie in the Alps

Bruce and Reggie in the Alps

I am still very much a novice sourdough maker. For a while (well, about a year)  I had two bubbling  starters. There was Bruce (all the best starters have names), given to me by my good friend and food writer, Rosie Ramsden. Bruce was a robust teenager of a white and rye sourdough starter, and there was Regginaldough, my own pure white sourdough starter creation. Bruce and Reggie were my constant companions, they travelled with me to the Alps on holiday and up and down the UK, people thought i was completely off my trolley but it was fascinating to watch and taste how they changed with every new location.

Sadly however, in a severe case of neglect on my part, the suffered an early and tragic demise. Something, I consoled myself,  that often happens to new sourdough converts. They do both still exist in some hybrid form in my mum's fridge and the new super Br-eggie is still going strong and is making the most amazing bread though that could be something to do with my mum's amazing skills as a baker.

I think it is about time I get back in the sourdough groove, and rather than taking the easy path of taking some well established starter from home i'm going to have another crack at making one from scratch. If you have never tried sourdough making before then give it a go with me and I will be posting my bread successes, failures, tips and recipes.

Sourdough making is a lot of trial and error and finding out what works for you as a bread maker but once you are hooked - and i promise you will be - you will never look back. Even if there are times when you are without a starter you will always come back to it time and time again. Think of your starter as a pet that need love, attention and understanding.

SIMPLE WHITE SOURDOUGH STARTER

Beginning a starter is so simple. Start with measuring 75g of unbleached flour into a container then add 75g of water. It is very important to weight the water as you want a perfect ratio of water to flour. Mix together with your fingers rather than a spoon as you have natural yeasts on your skin that will add to a good starter. Cover loosely with the lid without sealing so that the natural yeasts in the air can get to work on your starter, and leave for 12 hours. If it has started to bubble after 12 hours that is great, but if not, don!t panic, it may take up to 36 hours for your starter to get going. If nothing has happened after 36 hours I would say to start again, trying a different flour or putting it in a different place. 

Once your starter is bubbling it is time to feed. add another 75g each flour and water and mix again. leave fur a further 12 -24 hours until it is bubbling again then feed it again. You should find that your starter grows and expands after it has been fed, doubling in size.

Once you have fed it a good three times you need to start discarding (if you don't you will find your whole kitchen is taken over by large amounts of bubbling starter like some kind of bread monster!)

When you are ready to feed again, discard half the starter before adding your 75g flour and water. It may seem wasteful but once your stater is established you will use this to make the base of your bread. You now need to keep feeding your starter in this way every day, discarding half before every feed, until you have a well established starter. Most people recommend that you don't use a starter that is less than a week old to make bread as it is too unstable. it can take a month or more for your starter to reliably double in size between feedings.

My new little guy is bubbling away, i'm not going to name it yet in case i jinx it. Now all I have to do is wait, feed, and hope it survives a short burst of dormancy in the fridge when I go away on holiday. Fingers are crossed for survival.