Keeping your sourdough starter alive

Having posted about making sourdough bread I have since handed out a bit (to my brother) and so thought I’d better write about keeping it alive!
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I have had mine for 2 months and have made 4 batches. So you can tell that it doesn’t mind being the fridge for ages between uses. When you do use a bit you just add a bit more flour, around 15 g, and mix it well putting it back in the fridge. SL701505
When I gave some away last night I thought it might be unwell, as I hadn’t used it for a couple of weeks, so I left the jar out of the fridge having added around 30 g of flour and 20 ml or so of tepid water as I had given half of it away. It was bubbling away this morning so it went back in the fridge.
If you find that there is a load of grey ‘water’ on top of the starter in the jar then you need to tip off the ‘water’ and add 30 g of flour and 30 g of fresh tepid water, leave the jar out of the fridge for the night and see how it is in the morning. (I have done this and it worked.) According to the sheet I was given with the starter you can add 30 g more flour and try again, though I didn’t need to.

Sourdough Bread at long last.

I’ve been wanting to make some sourdough bread for years, since I started eating wheat again after 12 years of avoidance. SL701477I never had the courage to just leave some flour and water out to make a starter as I have seen on the internet. However when visiting an old friend a few weeks ago he had a starter, and offered to give me some of it. (I’ve known him a massive 30 years not that he’s old!) I gratefully bit his hand off and came home delighted. Didn’t get round to making any bread for ages, I thought I’d managed to kill it, but thankfully he had given me a copy of the instructions he had got from the course he had been on. So I refreshed it as per instructions and had a go, the first attempt was a total disaster, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and was a little impatient which resulted in 2 brick like baps. (Although grated and soaked in hot water the chickens have enjoyed them…)

Last Friday I had another go and it worked wonderfully, even though I say so myself!

So the recipe…

25 g of starter mixed with 150 g white flour and 150 g/ml tepid water and left overnight.

To the resulting mixture, bubbling away, add a further 250 g/ml tepid water,

then add 500 g flour (I used half white half wholemeal bread flours) and 5 g salt and mix well.

Leave covered for 10 minutes then pull the dough from the edge of the bowl into the middle and turn it and repeat until you’ve been all the way round the bowl.

Repeat twice, then leave for an hour.

“Knead” by doing the same as above on a work surface a little bit more than before, split the dough into 2 parts, put in a basket lined with a tea towel with a bit of flour on it and leave to rise (prove) for 3-6 hours… yes that’s what I thought! Until doubled in size.

Turn onto greased and floured baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes at 200 degrees (fan oven), with a tray of water in the bottom.

Success seems to be dependent on the proving, it’s been pretty cold in my kitchen recently so rather than put the heating on I put the small oven on for a few minutes on 50 degrees and used that for the last part of proving in the baskets, I put the oven on a couple of times, making sure it wasn’t hot enough to kill the yeasts or singe the tea towels! It was around 34 degrees most of the time.