Monday, 30 March 2015

Flour & Water

We keep two sourdough starters. Extravagant I know. This is mainly down to nostalgia but there’s the odd occasion where there are benefits of maintaining two at different hydrations or water contents. Sanj is getting on a bit now, born in my old flat, named after a flatmate and good friend he’s been with us throughout our baking journey. Clare, his classier other half has nobler heritage and hails from 200 year old Lapland stock if you buy into that kind of thing. I don’t. Granted I like the story and want to be part of a baking lineage, but my own view is that your starter quickly adapts to the local microflora, ours having long ago acquired a Bristol accent.

As an experiment I wanted to start a new starter. One born and bre(a)d in Bristol [sorry]. I mixed equal parts flour and water and left it on the counter. Repeated this once a day discarding 3/4 of the mixture and after a week baked a loaf. It really was that simple.

I lie. Baking’s not simple. Baking the perfect loaf’s a Sisyphean task, but one where you’re rolling dough not boulders and even the disasters taste great. Getting you own starter going is simple though and well worth the effort - amazing what you can do with just flour and water.

Seven days of starter evolution and the resultant loaf
There are plenty of well written guides online for making our own starter so I won’t dwell on the specifics, I like this one for example. Although my personal tips would be the following:
  • Use a decent organic flour with as much whole grain as possible
  • Rye makes a welcome addition, it has more soluble sugars than wheat and typically higher amlyse activity, all of this equates to more food for the starter
  • Don’t bother with fancy glass Kilner jars, granted they look nice but with regular feedings and cleaning they smash far too easily. This grows tiresome. Cheap plastic containers like soup containers work much better
  • And finally if all of this still sounds too daunting, give us some notice and we can bring some of our starter along to an event for you (assuming you pass our extensive starter adoption vetting process)


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