Friday, 20 January 2012


I have been planning to make Sourdough bread for a very long time. You read so much about it, about its wonderful, chewy texture, its delicious taste... and you can't buy it anywhere near here. So when Head of Bread announced on 1st January that he was going to tweet instructions for making a starter, I was definitely up for joining in.

The first stage is to mix together flour (I used wholemeal throughout) and water, and he suggests adding in three raisins to kick-start fermentation. I did this, and left it on the worktop overnight. The following day, I added more flour and water, and there were definite bubbles. I repeated this process for two weeks, mostly adding flour and water (known as feeding) every day, although sometimes every other day.

Then we were told to put our starters into the fridge.

"The fridge?" We all cried (tweeted). Yes, we were told, for the fridge would not kill our starters, only slow them down.

Well, I was not quite ready for baking, so my starter went into the fridge.

The following week, I had to "wake up" my starter, by feeding it and leaving it out of the fridge overnight before I baked with it. It was showing all the signs of fermenting, and on Saturday, I followed the baking instructions. This included kneading for 20 minutes. As a novice kneader, I struggled with this, but eventually achieved the required texture. I left it to prove, knocked it back, proved and shaped over the next 12 hours. Then I went to bed.

The loaves were cooked the next morning, following tips from Dan Stevens - oven on its highest setting, tray of boiling water at the bottom to create steam - and the loaves did bake. They tasted delicious - slightly tangy, and definitely tasty. But the texture was just too dense. I don't know if it was the proving, the kneading, or the 100% wholemeal flour, but it wasn't the best bread.

The starter is still alive and bubbling, although it is back in the fridge. Next weekend I'll have another go, and see if white flour is the way forward. The picture is not mine, but is very close to how mine looked.

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