My Friend Gave me Half of her Mother!

There have been stages in my life when I have made all my own bread; winters in a Cornwall as I didn’t get out much, when I first arrived in the BVI because the bought in stuff was crap (it is now much, much better by the way!) and when I worked as the pastry chef at The Last Resort (which was such a fun place owned by friends of mine) where we baked huge (and strangely fast!) loaves of rustic bread to serve to the punters. Never, however, have I tried sourdough – until now, and even then it’s not my fault!

My friend Carol gave me half of her mother (a strange sentence if taken out of context) which I fed and watered and chatted to for about a week and now I have made this …


... and I am so pleased with it! Chewy, tasty and a lovely crunchy crust.

Sourdough Starter

When Carol made used these sourdough starter instructions in the Telegraph. With half her starter she also gave me a note of what to do with it next …

sourdough starter

~   Every day halve the starter (and either throw half away, give it to a friend or make a loaf of bread).
~   Stir 100g strong flour (brown or white is fine) and 100ml warm water into the remaining starter and beat briefly with a wooden spoon or similar.
~   Decant into a clean non-reactive container (at first I was being all old fashioned and traditional using a Kilner jar but now I just put the keeping batch in a clean bowl each morning) and cover with a damp cloth NOT a lid.
~   Leave at room temperature for 24 hours and repeat the process.

Apparently you can put it in the fridge for a few days and not bother feeding it which is good if you have to go away on a short trip.  Carol said she had heard of people cancelling their holidays so as to keep feeding the thing and also of Sourdough Starter Nurseries!

how to make sourdough bread

Making the Sourdough Bread

Carol referred me to an article in The Telegraph which gives instructions for making the starter and what to do next but as, after halving the starter, I only had 100g for making the bread I had to scale down, which was good as my real man is not one for fancy stuff like sourdough and one loaf at a time is good enough for me. So these are my proportions …

100g sourdough starter
200ml tepid water
330g strong flour
5g salt
1 tablespoon water

sourdough rising
~   Stir together the first 3 ingredients, cover loosely with a plastic bag (if you have such a thing now that the carrier bag law has changed! ***) and set aside for 20 minutes or so.
~   Mix together the salt and tablespoon of water and stir into the dough, replace the plastic bag and leave an hour.
~   Tip out onto a floured board and punch out into a square-ish shape. Pull each side of the square out and fold into the middle. Return to the bowl and bag and leave another hour.
~   Do the same again.
~   And again only this time have ready a basket lined with cloth (a clean tea towel for instance) and sprinkled with semolina. I did have a basket but no semolina so used wholemeal flour and it worked fine.  Once the stretching and folding is done form into a smooth ball, tucking in edges underneath and place smooth side down in the bowl.  Dust the top of the dough with a little more semolina or flour.
~   Cover with the plastic again, allow to rise for about 2 hours by which time it should have approximately doubled in size and then put in the fridge overnight (or 2 nights if you prefer).
~   Remove the dough from the fridge to warm up a bit and preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/210ºC fan/gas 8 and put a baking sheet in there so it will be good and hot when you are ready to bake.
~   Gently turn the bread out onto the hot baking sheet, slash the top a few times for extra prettiness and crust and bake for about half an hour till it is risen and crusty, smelling great and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

freshly baked sourdough bread

~   Cool on a rack until you can bear it no longer and they try a piece.

I had a slice asap with one of my favourite toppings, butter and a sprinkle of crunch sea salt) and then a lovely lunch with two of my favourite cheeses, St. Agur and Cornish Crackler, some grapes, lots of black pepper, glass of red wine – what’s not like? to coin a phrase.

sourdough bread, cheese, grapes, lunch

This worked really well so thank you Carol and thank you Laura Hart whose recipe this basically is. I shall be making a loaf about once a week now and will try some variations, nuts and seeds and crunchy sea salt and so on.

In a way it seems a lot of faff to make a loaf of bread but in another way it doesn’t! It just takes 3 or 4 minutes once a day and very little work to actually make the bread.  

Another friend (I’m dead popular, me!) told me of a similar thing called a Herman cake which I haven’t tried but if you’d like to here is the Herman cake link.

Good News Addenda ...

We went away for a few days last week and, unsure what to do with said mother and asked Twitter.  This was my answer and it worked perfectly so now I am just going to feed her once or twice and then keep her in the fridge till I need more bread.

In Other News ...

It seems that I haven’t posted for a while for which I apologise – don’t have any excuse or reason, don’t know what happened!

Not connected to the above but I have been experimenting with posting on Medium which is a Very Interesting site to browse so whether or not you read what I have written or follow me (oh go on!)  I urge you to have a look round Medium here.  

*** As many people have said on Twitter …


Unknown said...

I really need to get myself a starter started as I've not made sourdough before and I really really should.

Sudden Lunch ~ Suzy Bowler said...

I agree - you really, really should. Once you've got it going it's a very easy, no-kneading way to make bread. I love it!