I'm new to the world of sourdough. Not eating it, that I've been doing for quite some time but cooking with it. A good sourdough starter is the lynchpin to a whole host of sourdough based dishes. Bread (obviously), pizzas, pancakes, soups and more.
Sourdough is a living thing and as such needs to be fed and cared for. This is what put me off from cooking with it for so long, but honestly the amount of work it takes to keep it alive is negligible. If you keep it in the fridge all you have to do is stir in a bit of flour and water once a week. Flour, water and a tiny bit of work is all it takes to truly transform your cooking.
It is the wild yeast found in flour which makes your sourdough starter a natural raising agent and the natural (and very good for you) bacteria that give it its characteristic sour taste. The strength in taste of your starter is dependent on your feeding routine, i.e. the ratio of flour to water, the type of flour used and the frequency of feeds.
I blagged my starter from a local friendly sourdough pizzeria who informed me that it was 20 years old, which is considered relatively young in the sourdough world which sees lucky individuals boasting of starters hundreds of years old. It is possible to use such aged ingredients in cooking because you never use the entire starter in any one dish and what remains is topped up with more water and flour.
My starter is what is known as 100% hydration, that is equal weight of water to flour. All the recipes on TheTasteTrail are based on this ratio.
You can either do as I do and find somebody willing to share a bit of their starter with you or make your own one from scratch. Once in your hands it will quickly evolve into your starter as it is the location where it is stored and the feeding regime you use which makes it distinctive from those kept by others.
Supposedly the first law of sourdough club, other than 'don't kill it', is that it must be given a name. After a short discussion myself and Cosmin have decided to call ours Roibu, a common name given to Romanian horses.
- 500g bread flour
- 500g water (bottled if your tap water is chlorinated)
- Add 100g of the flour and 100g water to a large jar, stir thoroughly ensuring you have no lumps. Loosely cover and leave in a draft free place for 24 hours.
- Each day, add another 100g of the flour and 100g water into the mix, stirring thoroughly ensuring you have no lumps. You will start to see bubbles and your starter will smell pleasantly sour. If your starter smells bad, looks black or mouldy or you don't see small bubbles after the fifth day then start again.
- Your starter should be fed 6 hours before use. To do this just add 100g flour, 100g water and stir until completely smooth.
- If stored out of the fridge, feed every 24 hours by adding 100g flour, 100g water and stirring until completely smooth.
- If stored in the fridge, feeding can reduce to once a week. Remove from the fridge, add 100g flour, 100g water and stirring until completely smooth. Leave out in the kitchen loosely covered for about four hours before returning to the fridge.
maintaining starter levels
- If you're not using your starter on a regular basis then you will have to discard some.
- I find between 700g and 800g of starter more than adequate. Don't let your container reach more than 70% capacity (the gases can cause a mini explosion).
- I always leave at least 300g of starter in my jar.