Using Your Loaf – Making a Sourdough Starter

Sourdough puzzles me.  I can’t work out if it’s just over complicating plain old dried yeast baking, or breaking the hearts of baking hipsters who are mortified their baking culture of choice is going mainstream. Requiring daily attention means bringing sourdough into your home baking is a big commitment. In fact, it’s such a commitment that there is even a Sourdough Hotel for when you go on holiday. Fancy eh!

Now not one to miss out on culinary challenge, or even the opportunity to jump on the home baking bandwagon, I wanted to have a crack at making my own. Why?  Who knows.  Maybe I was on a sustainability crusade, but I probably just felt awkward asking if anyone had some culture lying about.

The trick is to weigh the jar before you start. It makes life much easier when you’re spooning out specific quantities later. A Kilburn jar works best. To start you add 75g of organic whole meal flour and 75g tepid water. Stir it enough to get rid if the lumps.  Then leave it in a warm place until the next day. Repeat the process again, adding 75g flour and 75g water each day for about a week. When it starts to bubble away at you and omits a smell more closely related to old bread, you’ve got a basic starter ready to go.

Now the problem I had is that the Sourdough starter isn’t quite strong enough to bake with for at least a few weeks. I’ve seen recipes using grated apple to get it going quicker, but I wanted a pure organic version, so avoided this route. Empty a bit out if the jar becomes too full, but make sure you top up equal quantities of flour each time while it builds it’s strength.

You can also slow down and store your starter in the fridge. Just seal the lid and leave in the fridge for up to two weeks. To kick start it again you just add your normal 75g flour and 75g tepid water and it takes a couple of days to start up again. Stick with it as it starts to get stronger the longer you keep it. I ended up making some brilliant bread out my starter and it’s even good for giving pancakes or pizza dough a fancy twist.

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