Allow me to preface this post with this: there is no greater love story than that of me and carbs. Love the stuff and can't get enough. Bread making hasn't always been something that's held my attention for very long. I've made some flat breads and focaccias on fleeting whims (...and also out of necessity), but other than that I've mostly stuck to other foods. I developed fear of working with flour due to this one episode of Freaky Eaters I caught while channel surfing years ago and have only recently started to overcome it.
I've always held the belief that real breadmaking is exclusively within the realm of career bakers and that I shouldn't really bother when I can buy a perfectly good loaf from the shops. It's true that it's readily available, but that's not my philosophy with cooking other things, so why should bread be an outlier? I mentioned in passing to a colleague that I was interested in making sourdough and she linked me to an episode of GastroPod – Secrets of Sourdough (highly recommend listening even if you're not a ~foodie). She herself has her own sourdough starter sitting dormant in her fridge and assured me it's not hard.
I saw my friend Cameron a couple of days after my conversation with my colleague and he too was interested in making a starter. Lots of links were shared. Discussions on what kind of container to use ensued.
In my research (mainly these pages: How to make your own sourdough starter and Make your own sourdough starter) it seemed like it was fairly simple, albeit a little time consuming. So, with a weekend free from any social obligations and commitments, I began making my own sourdough starter. I followed the ratios from the first link, purely because I don't have kitchen scales, just measuring cups. The method is pretty much the same across all the different recipes; some recipes may ask you to do the first feeding after 48 hours, some after 12, but generally you feed it once a day for about five days.
Honourable mention to Daniel Larsson whose Instagram I followed religiously for a very long time. He posts sourdough porn. I feel like I've joined some kind of exclusive carb cult. (CarbCult™ is something I can get behind)
Just flour and water.
Didn't smell like much... Threw out half the original starter and fed it.
Started smelling acidic, a few bubbles – promising. (Actually it was smelling a little funky... dare I say rank)
Basically the same as day 3, a few bubbles, still smelling sour. Other people's starters were bubbling away by this stage, but it didn't concern me too much. Maybe, like me learning to speak as a baby, it was slow.
NO PROGRESS, SAME OLD MISERY. Very concerned starter mother here.
Pretty much gave up. Fed it and left it on the counter overnight, went to check on it and it had almost DOUBLED in size within three hours. I was gushing. Made a leaven a couple of hours later.
U kno what went down. 😏
Followed this recipe but improvised/substituted at a few points.
* The recipe called for half a cup of water and a tablespoon of salt to be mixed in after four hours of proving. It was hard to mix after it had already proofed and I don't think the salt added that much to the flavour. Next time I'd skip this step and add the extra water in when mixing with the leaven.
** The dough was on the drier side and didn't have the right texture to fold properly. I wanted a silkier texture before the final proof so I kneaded the dough a bit, which knocked most of the air out, even though the recipe said not to – I couldn't help myself!!
I'd probably find an easier to follow recipe. There was a lot of reading and I didn't necessarily have the time to sift through all that text while in the throes of breadmaking. I had to transcribe it into layman terms:
Kitchen smelled amazing when it was baking. Flavour was spot-on. Even though my starter was only a week old, there was more flavour than the sourdough you'd buy from the supermarket. Texture-wise there's room for improvement. I think it was a combination of the dough being too dry and my kneading (alternatively we could put it down to my lack of self control). The loaves were edible – I even gave a loaf to Cameron and as far as I know he hasn't fallen ill. Ideally the next loaf will be fluffier, but this batch would be alright with a soup or stew.