MAKE YOUR OWN SOURDOUGH STARTER
Let's get started...
A sourdough starter is how we cultivate the wild yeast so it can be used for baking. Wild yeast are present in all flour, so the easiest way to make a starter is simply by combining flour and water and letting it sit for several days. All you need is a jar (a Kilner jar is perfect), and a 50/50 mix of flour and water. We recommend 75g or organic wholemeal, dark rye, or wholemeal spelt flour. Pop this into your jar and mix with 75g of warm water, stirring really well to combine.
Leave this in a prominent, warm place and repeat this every day for a few days - adding the flour and water, stirring each time you do - being sure to remove any floury lumps (this process is referred to as 'feeding'). At first you may not notice any significant changes, but after 5 days you will see little surface bubbles starting to appear. This is your sourdough starter. You'll notice that between day 4 to day 5, the starter will have doubled in bulk. It will be looking very bubbly — even frothy. If you stir it, the starter will feel looser and be completely speckled with bubbles. Give it a sniff - it should have a sour essence and may even be quite pungent! You can taste a little too - it will be sour and vinegary. This indicates that your starter is ripe and you no longer need to bulk it out any longer.
Your sourdough starter can be kept in the fridge - removing it once a week to 'feed' it, then leaving it out overnight to give the yeast time to recuperate before returning it to the fridge. Your starter is ready to use after a week, but caring for it for a month will really bring out the flavour.
Now that you have your sourdough starter, here's a great recipe for your first loaf:
+ Remember to take your starter out of the fridge 2-3 days before you plan to bake your bread! Feed it daily during this period to make sure it's strong and very active before you make the bread.
GOING BEYOND BAKING
This is just the 'starter' of your adventures...
If you think sourdough bread is great and super healthy, you may also find yourself thinking about the actual sourdough starter itself, or at least, we did! We thought pancakes: crusty on the outside, fried in a little oil and butter and gooey inside, these are dangerously moreish, and this is way before you add a little pinch of toasted sesame seeds or a scatter of plain old cheddar - the plan, here, is to let them speak that umami language loud and clear, not letting them be overpowered by strong, bold flavours.
Then, we like to make waffles, by combining sourdough starter with a little egg, kefir, mustard seeds and citrus zest, before they hit the hot iron. They are a great little base for some delicate home cured Scottish salmon or an oozy poached egg and some Japanese style quick pickled spinach! Strangely enough, we sometimes make fish and chips batter with sourdough starter and you guessed right, fish – tanginess? Of course, it’s delicious! One of our chefs actually introduced us to a Polish type of soup (Jurek) that is thickened with sourdough starter - one of the best things we have ever tasted, promise!
Sourdough starter also makes a novel and special gift for anybody who wishes to start baking wonderful bread!
Sourdough starter presents countless opportunities, it’s mega healthy and extremely easy to make and keep. Feel free to get in touch for more recipes, tips and tricks!