Tending the Starter

Some time ago I set myself a target – to make good sourdough.  Seems reasonable enough, I love cooking and experimenting with different cooking techniques.  But what happened was unexpected.  It opened a whole new world for me, the world of fermentation.  This lead me on a journey towards cheesemaking too (I’ll save that for another post).  But back to sourdough.

I tried a recipe from the Internet from a well known personality, but did not have much success.  I picked up the Bourke Street Bakery book by McGuinness and Allam, and with a bit of patience I was off and running.

I don’t have any pets, but this starter became my real pet.  And a baby pet at that.  I tended it according to the instructions, used organic flour and spring water.  I worried about the conditions in the room, too hot… too cold?  It took a while, but I started to see some evidence of life.  A gardener tends his garden, I had my starter.  And it really is a living thing.  Once it got going, I found it was more tolerant to my sometimes neglect.

When I prepare the starter for making bread, I take a whole day and feed it three times, the first feed is wholemeal flour.  I use a 50:50 ratio of flour to water.  For the second and third feed I use a good quality flour, like Lauke single origin white flour.   Many recipes recommend organic flour, but I found this unnecessary.  The next morning, I start making the dough itself.  The starter will have become fluffier and somewhat bubbly.  At this stage it is hungry.

I take most of the starter for making the dough, but save at least one cup and stir in the same amount of flour and water.  It is stretchy and sticky at this stage.  I leave it to sit for an hour or so at room temperature, and then pop it in the fridge.  It will stay there, happily, until I make the next batch.

I try to make sourdough bread twice a week, it keeps well and makes good toast.  As Nigella Lawson says in her Women’s Weekly November article “..I’m always on the lookout for avocado toast, whatever the time of day..” .  The only thing I would add is to make that Sourdough toast – it just tastes better and dare I say, feels better.

2 thoughts on “Tending the Starter

  1. Natasha Datos says:

    Hi Sophia, Your blog was really entertaining to read and I appreciated the thoughts on caring and nourishing to make things grow.. For anything to grow it needs to be nourished. The soul in particular needs to be nourished for us to feel emotionally, intellectually and spiritually satisfied. For the soul to be nourished it needs to be fed constantly with the right stuff. There are so many ways to nourish the soul… music, travel, relationships, theatre etc.. however food holds a very special place because it’s not only sustenance for the body to survive it feeds the soul when it is prepared with love and passion, purpose and creativity. I am looking forward to reading your next blog!
    cheers from your fellow foodie


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