Sourdough Starter

I’m currently on day 36. If you’re reading this now, I hopefully got your full support and encouragement. If you’re finding this later, you might cringe by the memories of the days where the whole world seemed to be counting days.

#STAYHOME
Bubbly sourdough starter with simple flour recipe

It’s been 36 days of a lifestyle where you’re told to spend most of your time hidden between your four well-known walls. Hidden from germs spread between us humans, forcing us to #stayhome. 36 days is however not long at all. Others have stayed in for much longer already. Personally I know that I’ve at least got 28 days left for now. Though not because I’m feeling ill. The people who still wear a suit and tie to work, and not comfy activewear, is telling us to.

So what do we do? We give ourselves some projects. After the first wave of supermarket hoarding had left peoples home full of toilet paper rolls, pasta and canned vegetables, I guess people realised they needed some activities to do as well. Puzzles and board games were waiting patiently for the next big shop, and it didn’t take long until they were all gone too. Well, now what? Easter was coming and leading up to a baking frenzy.

Self-raising flour? Gone

Sugar? Gone

Yeast? Gone

The solution? Sourdough of course!

Sourdough starter bread for new beginners served with honey

SOURDOUGH STARTER

As a regular Scandinavian baker, I made my first sourdough starter back in 2015. I kept it for a few months and even brought it across land borders until I simply realised that I needed a little break. Fast forward 5 years and I’ve had my fair share of decorative Sourdough sandwiches to tempt me back into the game. Like everyone else who jumped the bandwagon, let’s see how long it lasts this time.

Sourdough starter getting ready by the window with a palm leaf shadow

Due to the lack of good quality flour around, it took me around two weeks before I had my sourdough starter ready. After only a couple of days, it was bubbling away until it suddenly lost its activity and my hope was gone. I split it into two jars giving me the opportunity to experiment with various amounts of flour and water. Turns out, my failing sourdough starter was pretty normal. Over the first few days, it was feeding off a different type of bacteria that would eventually be replaced by the right kind of bacteria; lactic acid bacteria. I kept on going, experimenting with 1:1 and 1:2, favouring what I thought looked better for my either dry or runny sourdough starter. Slowly the starter got more and more acidic, finally living me with a big jar of bubbles ready for its water test.

I’m not gonna lie. My first bread using my own sourdough starter wasn’t perfect. Though is it really about perfecting the art when you’re starting out with the only flour you have left in the cupboards, letting it form in whatever bowl-shaped kitchen interior you find looking slightly similar to a professional bakers proofing basket?

Studies show that baking is connected to positive feelings. Cooking and baking can be used as a therapeutic tool to help us deal with feelings like depression and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2016, shows how spending time on creative goals during a day is associated with people feeling happier and more relaxed.

That’s what it’s all about.

Read this far and really just want to know which sourdough starter recipe I used? After going through way to much flour with the recipe I used back in 2015, I went for an adapted version of Nadine Ingram’s easy recipe set up in her cookbook ‘Flour and Stone’.  Due to COVID-19, there was no such thing as rye flour to be found, so I went ahead with plain white flour and whole-wheat flour. I’ve later realised that skipping the rye flour may slow down the process, so bear this in mind if you’d like to speed it up.

INGREDIENTS

500 ml water
250 g rye flour
250 g whole-wheat or plain white flour

DAY 1

Put a jam jar on a kitchen scales and mix 50ml water, 25 g rye flour and 25 g whole-wheat flour together with a clean spoon. Put the lid loosely on top and place it in a warm spot in the kitchen for 24 hours (don’t leave it in the sun).

Sourdough starter in jam jars getting ready by the window

DAY 2 AND SO ON…

 

Put the jam jar back on the kitchen scales and remove 50 g of your starter. Discard this during this period, though use it for sourdough pancakes and waffles as soon as your starter is ready. No need to throw away food when you can use it for a yummy lunch!

Feed once again with 50 ml water, 25 g rye flour and 25 g whole-wheat flour. Mix well and set aside.

Personally I decided to feed the starter every 24 hours, though Nadine suggests you could also do it every 12 hours. Keep it going for a few days until your sourdough starter is getting a sour smell and many bubbles. When you think it’s ready – do the water test. Fill up a glass of water and scoop out a little of your starter. If it floats, it’s ready.

 

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