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#SourdoughSeptember Day 3

If you are anything like me day 3 is when you start to wonder what on earth you are doing faffing around with a pot of floury gloop when there is a perfectly good block of fresh/pot of dried yeast sitting in the fridge.
You may at this point be tempted to go to your, undoubtedly extensive, stash of baking books to see what tips they give on how to get your starter bubbling away vigorously and begin questioning the wisdom of using nothing but flour and water.
If that sounds about right let me reassure you with some wise words from possibly the most comprehensive bread-making book I’ve come across – Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley:

Even if you are not flummoxed by words like desem and levain (both of which refer to types of natural fermentation), you may be expected to wade through pages of instructions, assemble a clutch of special ingredients and spend up to a fortnight fussing just to create a starter which, if it survives, becomes as demanding as a pet. Over the whole enterprise hangs an aura of mysticism, a sense that the process involved may be accessible only to a chosen few. The sourdough grail is guarded by zealots, who expatiate interminably on the size of the holes in their miches.
It doesn’t have to be like this. All that is needed is a clear understanding of what happens when flour and water are mixed and left in a warm place. The rest is detail. Forget the milk, yoghurt, orange peel, grape skins, apple juice, raisins and all the other things that are suggested as aids to developing a starter. There is nothing wrong with them in themselves. They are just not necessary.
(Whitley 2006, p.155)

So relax. Make a cup of tea and let the yeast do its work.


Day 3
When you open the pot today have a good sniff. You should start to be able to smell the beginning of the sourness which gives sourdough its name. If a bit of greyish liquid has appeared on the surface don’t worry, just stir it in and all will be well!
At the moment the starter should be pretty sloppy so today i recommend just adding a scoop of flour without any water to thicken it a bit. some recipes suggest throwing away half the old starter each time you refresh it but that seems like a terrible and unnecessary waste to me. Just adding a small amount of flour each day provides the burgeoning yeast culture with a fresh supply of food which is all it needs to help it develop.
So there we have it, day three and we are well on the way to having a sourdough starter which, if it is looked after and used regularly, could last for years and even decades!

2 responses »

  1. Thanks for quoting me, Rich, but may I correct one typo that has crept in. I wrote ‘expatiate’; you put ‘expiate’. Not quite what I meant!
    I hope the sourdough is going well. Good baking!
    Andrew Whitley

    PS Anyone wanting a piece of my original sourdough starter can get one here:
    There’s a modest charge which goes to fund our new Fungal Network ( where people can share sourdough, stories and skills.

  2. Oops, that does change the meaning somewhat doesn’t it!
    thanks for the encouragement and the links – that’s a really interesting idea, a network of bakers developed from a single sourdough source, I like it 🙂


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