I had been intimidated by sourdough for far too long. In January I decided that it was ridiculous to be afraid of making sourdough starter when I had not even tried – and so I read up more on it and eventually gave it a try. My first attempt wasn’t perfect, but the starter did its thing: I ended up with bread. It was pretty flat as you can see but it has evolved since. I have learned some things along the way that I wanted to share with you. Firstly, to remind myself that there is nothing to be intimidated by in sourdough starter… And secondly, and more generally, to remember that one should not be afraid of things one has not even tried. (I know – that’s the hardest part.) Just because it did not work for someone else, does not mean it won’t work for you either.
The flour I – rather luckily – started with my organic (untreated) einkorn wholewheat flour. One part flour, one part water (warm filtered tap water), a plastic container with the lid lose on top, a good stir with a fork and a spot on the radiator. Perfect! When I ran out of that flour I went on with regular spelt flour. I did the same things but no bubbles emerged, there was no life in my plastic container. I put the sourdough starter in the fridge, ordered more of the untreated stuff and gave it another try. The starter came back to life, yay!
Lesson 1: Use untreated flour.
The ratio I read all sorts of numbers when researching how to start my sourdough. What most articles agreed on was a 1:1 ratio of water and flour. Knowing this I went with an amount of flour and water that I was comfortable with. 30g of each in order to not spoil too much good stuff in case it would go wrong. It did not! After a dose of 30g flour, 30g water everyday for five days for the first bread I got
adventurous clumsy and added bigger and smaller amounts of flour or water and just made sure the other ingredient would match it up in quantity. No problems with that whatsoever.
Lesson 2: Sourdough starter is forgiving regarding quantities added.
The feeding I fed my starter each day for five days. That was the first time around. After that I forgot one day and would only feed every other day. My starter would not thrive as it did when it was fed every day, still it did not die and would go on bubbling after the next feeding. However, the smell had changed! A sour smell (faintly of vomit) is normal here!!!
Lesson 5: Feed every day if you need your starter quickly, if you just want to keep it alive, every other day is fine.
The life span The starter is supposed to get more active with every time it is divided. After four or five divisions it only reaches its maximum strength. I am on the fourth division, my starters resting in the fridge since a good while. Once I will get them out and warmed up they will be good to go. I have no experience yet how long this will go on, but my parents have told me about sourdough starter that was passed around, raised, and divided and given as a present back in the 90s. My guess: this lives looong. After all it is the microbes/bacteria/funghi that do the work here, so as long as we won’t kill them they will make sourdough.
Lesson 4: Keep starter that is not used in the fridge, use your senses to tell if it has gone off.
The bread The bread has this distinct slightly sour taste, it’s porous (maybe not the first time, but after that it will be), it has a great crust and a softer inside. I am still working on getting the crust crunchier, but I feel I am on a good way. I have been working with 1 part sourdough, 2 parts flour, at least 10g salt and between 300 and 400g water in the final dough. My last bread had 450g sourdough, 450 g untreated rye flour, 450 g organic wholewheat einkorn flour, 350g warm filtered water and some salt. The bread was huge!!!
Lesson 5: If your sourdough starter is active, your chances of getting good bread are high!
To make the bread pictured in this post
650 g Chiemgaukorn wholewheat einkorn flour and water and salt
make a starter with
30g Chiemgaukorn wholewheat einkorn flour
30g filtered water at room temperature
a plastic container with a lid
Mix both ingredients in the container, place the lid loosely on top and let sit in a warm space, i.e. on the radiator or on the window sill in the sunlight. Feed on four consecutive days at about the same time. I began my starter at 9 in the evening on a sunday night and fed monday through thursday night sometime between 8 and 11 pm. I added the flour, then the water and would mix with a fork.
On the fifth day I had about 500 g sourdough. I divided the starter and placed one part in a closed smaller plastic container in the fridge. The remaining 250g I mixed with 500g of the organic wholewheat einkorn flour, 10g salt and about 380g lukewarm filtered water. That was in January. Right now I need different amounts of water and add only as much as I need to get a smooth, yet firm, dough, if it shows signs of becoming to soft or even runny: add flour.
I did the mixing part in an ovensafe pot with a glass lid that I took off (unscrewed) the plastic parts. I had read that this would work as a mini-oven inside the oven and I must say, wheter or not that’s the case, I like the result. So put your dough in the pot and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot over night and let rise.
In the morning stir again, you do not need to knead, a big wooden spoon and few stirs will be fine. Let rise again for some hours until you think it has reached its potential, you are happy with the “height” or you just feel you need to bake it now… Bake at 200°C for 45 minutes. (Unsure if it’s done: Poke with a wooden skewer, if if comes out clean, wonderful, if not, bake some longer.)
The bread should come out of the pot VERY easily. I only turned the pot upside down and there was my bread on
the counter its cutting board. Let it rest upside down for a night. My bread was really moist at the bottom and somewhat hard at the crust. Letting the bread sponge up the moisture helps you get a bread that’s moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
Writing this I feel less water should make for a crunchier crust, what do you think? If you haven’t done so, would you make sourdough starter now? As for me, I am back to experimenting now! Have a good week!
Note: This is no sponsored post, I just really love the flour!