Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Sourdough Game: Part I

Ok, so you have wheat flour, rye flour (or both) and some water and a bowl or jar, and are cursing me for making you wait to find out what to do with it.


Here goes.....

All we're going to do today is mix some flour and water together, and then leave it in a fairly warm place to do its funky stuff. If we are lucky, wild yeasts will develop over the course of a few days or a week, and then, in time, we will be able to bake without using commercial yeast! And if you are anywhere near as nerdy as me, that will make you a very happy person.

There are a couple of 'rules' to follow though, if you want to maximise the chance of this working.

1) Be careful of using washing up detergent on the utensils and pots you use when mixing your starter. I've never had any problems, but I do make sure I rinse everything carefully in fresh water after using detergent. I do this because lots of people say that detergent can kill the wild yeasts you are desperately trying to cultivate. And dead yeast is no good to anybody.

2) Use bottled water, filtered water, or water that has been left out in a bowl or jug overnight. Why? Because tap water often contains gases that are harmless to us, but can supposedly kill off the wild yeasts. But if we leave the water to stand out overnight, the gases escape into the air. If you use bottled water you don't need to do this, but I generally use tap water that has been left out in a filter jug.

3) The newer the flour, the better. Flour that's been standing in the cupboard for months may produce a starter just fine, but it might not.


OK, OK, 'enough waffle', you say; 'just tell us what to do and then buzz off', you cry.

I hear you!

For a rye starter:
1 tbsp rye flour
2 tbsp warm water (by warm, I mean around 35°C, it should feel neither warm or cold to the touch)

Place the ingredients in a glass jar or bowl and stir thoroughly. It should look like this:


Cover with the lid (but don't screw it on), or use a piece of clingfilm with 'breathing holes' stabbed into it.

Let it stand out in a warm place - a warm room (20 to 25°C is fine) - but it shouldn't be put anywhere too hot.


Now we need to leave it alone to do it's stuff. It should take around 2 days if all goes well.


For a wheat starter:
1 1/2 tbsp wheat flour (whole wheat or white is fine)
2 tbsp warm water (by warm, I mean around 35°C, it should feel neither warm or cold to the touch)

As for the rye starter,  place the ingredients in a glass jar or bowl and stir thoroughly. It should look like this:


Again, cover with the lid (but don't screw it on), or use a piece of clingfilm with 'breathing holes' stabbed into it.

Let it stand out in a warm place - a warm room (20 to 25°C is fine) - but again it shouldn't be put anywhere too hot.


The rules for the wheat starter are the same as for the rye one - we need to leave it alone to do it's stuff. Again, it should take around 2 days.

Sleep tight! See you tomorrow!

go to the next installment

References, or, who did I learn this from?

Martin Johansson produces the ultimate in down to earth, easy to use instructions for everything to do with sourdough bread - the shag is that it is Swedish

River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens - again, contains a straightforward guide to sourdough

Clotilde Dusoulier is also really good at putting complicated things into straightforward instructions

10 comments:

  1. Woo hoo! I'm so ready for this :)

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  2. Very cool. This was informative. Thanks.

    Cheers.
    Velva

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  3. Yay! I love sourdough, so I'm definitely going to try this :)

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  4. Thanks for introducing me to Martin's blog! (fortunately I know Swedish!). I found making the starter so fascinating, the only thing we were concerned about was not to let the taste get too strong. I'm looking forward to seeing the results!

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  5. What a fun idea- can't wait to see how it all turns out. :)

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  6. Wait. So now we have to wait for 2 days to find out if it worked? Not fair! :)

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  7. I want to play this game! I'll have to see how it turns out and then try it, I've been wanting to use a starter!

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  8. How exciting to follow you on step by step and post by post! I have to catch up on reading your posts now. :-)

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  9. Oh no! I got sidetracked! I have to add you to my blogroll and play catch up. I'll let you know how it goes :)

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