Well, it’s been almost three months since I created my starter and I’m pleased to say that it is still alive and well and producing decent loaves of beautiful sour dough bread, flavoursome with a gorgeous texture.
I am able to leave it in the fridge for weeks at a time and reactivate it with a good feed to get it going again. When left alone for a while it does develop quite a strong ‘alcohol’ smell which is a by – product of the feeding but that disappears when you work up the sponge.
It also separates when left alone as you can see here but returns to normal when mixed.
I’m keeping it in a 2 litre Kilner style jar with a clip lid which gives me enough room to give it a good feed when needed.
I must say a huge thank you to Ballymaloe Cookery School as they have been most interested in my progress and still giving me advice by email. Now that goes to show Ballymaloe is a school that actually really cares about their students’ progress even after the course has finished.
Firstly, follow the procedure carefully! On one occasion I didn’t do the float test and ended up with a very flat loaf indeed as the starter wasn’t at the active stage. The activity of the yeast is of paramount importance to get a well risen loaf.
Secondly, it’s tough doing it by hand. Whilst I got good and tasty results, it is extremely hard going kneading by hand due to the high level of hydration in the dough. I have bought a Kenwood mixer for the first time to make life easier and I must admit I love it. Although I still believe that we should all learn how to make bread by hand first so you know the stages from flour to loaf intimately.
Thirdly, it really does need that level of hydration. As I was experimenting I tried reducing the amount of water to make it easier to knead. It was not as good by a long chalk. Get the water in there no matter how sloppy it is.
And finally, sour dough toast with seasoned fried field mushrooms is a thing of beauty. Tasty enough for you to give up the search for a meaningful relationship.
If you want the full details on Sour Dough then check out my post…