Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sour dough starter

After two unsuccessful attempts at making a decent sour dough starter, I decided last school holidays that I would try for a third time.
There is something fascinating about how nothing more than flour and water can create life, and then use that life to make something wholesome and nutritious. It is a humble reminder of how reliant we are on even the smallest of organisms for survival.

Day one. The starter. With the children playing happily outside, and remembering an article about a Russian baker who was quoted to have said that any stress in the self will show in the bread, I take a deep breath, centre my mind and mix a dough using warm, pre-boiled water and a mix of wholemeal spelt and wholemeal wheat flours.
This dough is then covered with a muslin and placed into the airing cupboard to keep at a constant temperature, and away from draughts.
Day two. The starter rests happily in the cupboard.
Day three. The first refreshment.
After two days, the outside had crusted over just as the recipe book said. This was reassuring, as was the otherworldly oozing of aerated dough that was trying to escape from underneath its air-dried shell.
Rather like eating a  kiwi fruit, I scooped out the insides, and mixed it to a sludge with warm, pre-boiled water, and spelt/wheat flour. Again, it is placed in the airing cupboard. (Although this time, a lid replaces the muslin)
Day four. Happily at rest.
Day five. The second refreshment.
Life will always prevail. In this case, it was the life I had hoped for and not the furry green mould that grew on my last attempt of leaven! After a day and a half, the dough had grown, and had taken on a distinctly sweet and rather sharp smell. Another round of water/dough sludge followed by more flour, and the starter is looking and feeling like a normal bread dough.
Day six. After a fourteen hour rise in the airing cupboard, I'm not too sure whether it has doubled or not. It certainly has risen to some degree though. I keep my fingers crossed that it will have the strength to raise bread.

1 comment:

  1. A few weeks later, and the starter has been successfully fed, chilled and subsequently revived several times over. Audrey, as we now affectionately call my 'kitchen pet', has gotten better each time, churning out a pretty good couple of loaves every weekend.