Experimental sourdough starter

I fell in love with sourdough bread when I visited Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, in San Francisco, many years ago. The unique tasting bread takes its flavour from the bacteria that surround the area. The bread is famous and rightly so. I’ve chased sourdough bread ever since, but nothing has been as good as my first experience of it. So I’m trying to make some myself.

To bake it you need to have a sourdough starter mix, a culture of flour and water for growing wild yeast and developing the bacteria that give it the flavour. The starter needs looking after each day. You can purchase sourdough starter, but I’m not travelling to get it. An alternative is to buy some special yeast, but I want to experiment and see what I can make the natural way. There are lots of methods for starting this using flour and water and relying on the bacteria present wherever you are to give it it’s special flavours. This is apparently similar to making cheese and even wine, where the environment determines the flavour and characteristics. My past track record has not been successful. The last lot just went mouldy, but I’m giving it another go. I will try to tend to it every day, feeding it more flour and stirring it up.

Bubbles!! that is a good sign that the yeast is developing
It’s grown in size!! also good

My starter is experimental. I bought a packet mix of sourdough rye bread. It contained the mix and the yeast. I took some of the sourdough yeast to make the starter. It was added to some plain flour, sugar, milk and water. It seems to be working. It smells like it should, sourish. Apparently you can adjust the ‘sourness’ of the starter depending on how much and when you feed the starter.

Looks OK

I used the rye bread with a combination of some of the sourdough yeast and some ordinary yeast to make this loaf. Apologies for the pictures. I wasn’t quick enough and there’s not much left. I made two loaves one full of my home grown olives and one plain. This is all that is left and it won’t be there after supper!

Tasted wonderful

So, to make sourdough bread you use some of the starter and add more flour and whatever else you want. You add more flour and water to the starter and off it goes again bubbling up, fermenting, ready to be used when you want the next loaf. Should be easy, right??? We’ll see.