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After saying I would never again bake bread ... Scarlett’s blog inspired me to have another go and this time using Sourdough rather than yeast.

Scurrying about the internet brought a predictably large amount of conflicting information. Instead of remaining confused, I’ve thrown in my lot with Yoke Mardewi and will go with her suggestions until I know a bit more about what I am doing (I should live so long!). She wrote the book for Australian home baker (Wild Sourdough) and the instructions seem straight-forward enough.

Learning that the starter comes from the grain itself gave some familiarity since I’ve made Sauerkraut which uses the wild yeasts on the Cabbages - so no surprise that organically-grown is regarded as the most useful. I bought some stoneground organic Rye flour from the bulk shop in Morayfield (Simply Good) and some conventional (no organic available) wholemeal Wheat for the bread. The Rye is for the starter and the Wheat for the bread. The Rye flour starter is the better regarded (according to what I read) as it’s slower to spoil as Wheat-based starter works quickly and goes off quickly.

A fascinating fact (is it really proven?) is that the fast-acting commercial yeasts make bread very quickly but don’t allow the minerals to be available to the consumer. According to Yoke, the sourdough because it works over several days, allows the bread’s minerals to be available and best of all, reduces the amount of starch so sourdough has a GI of less than 50. I’d love to see some real scientific evidence for that but it sounds reasonable so I’ll go along with it. If what she says is true it might account for some of the number of Coeliacs we have - leaving aside that diagnosis is better than it was.

It’s chilly and the starter appreciates temperatures between 20℃ and 30℃; it’s less than that indoors so I moved the basins to the top of the electric hot water heater which did make a difference. Shrouded in a towel and a tea-towel the contents have increased activity. The flavour of the Rye starter is changing by the day and is now a nice sweetish-lemony kind of flavour. The Wheat-based starter smells ‘Yoghurty’ but hasn’t developed the breadth of flavour - it hasn’t been going as long though. But it is the Wheat-based which goes into the bread, the Rye is the ‘original’. The starter has a gelatinous or mucilaginous consistency rather like Kefir.

The author I’m following uses 500g of starter per kilo of flour. It seems a lot and it was a lot since I had my starter going for a few days and it was bubbling along but found there was only 250g available without depleting the original too much. So I halved the recipe. Maybe not the best idea I have had but I needed to give it a whirl and had to start somewhere.

The bread while looking a little weird, tastes just fine, nice and nutty and a very crisp crust. There’s some holes in the bread similar to the holey bread pictured in the book. Not sure if I want such holey bread but I’ll live with it for the time.

It was fascinating first steps into real bread-making, there’s much to know and many questions still to be answered. I’ll be making more in the days to come and hope to have a loaf looking like a loaf when I get some bread tins rather than using a Pizza stone to bake it on.

When we ate the bread quite hot, the crust was very crisp and tough to chew. The next day the bread is still moist (stored in paper in a plastic bin) and the crust while chewey is much softer. The sour flavour has developed a little too.



Update: 16th June 2011: I've had another go at baking an almost-wholemeal sourdough loaf. I am trying to eliminate the tough crust so added some white bakers flour, added some oil (actually Coconut oil not the Olive you might expect), some honey and left it to rise for, as it turned out, 22 hours. And rise it did!


The recipe called for 2 or 3 rises but since the making of this loaf had taken nearly 24 hours so far, I figured on seeing what I got when I baked this.


Here it is ready for the oven:


Minus the cling-wrap! I did cut it with a sharp knife to stop it from breaking, but that didn't work ...


And this is the proof of the baking ...



It's about double the height of the 100 percent wholemeal loaf I made originally. The crust is still a bit tough but quite edible. And wonder of wonders, it tastes like sourdough!


Quite pleasant and I've made some progress but need some expert help. I checked Elisabeth Fekonia's site to find she is running a Sourdough workshop at Scarborough on 25th June. We're booked in. Watch this space ;-)

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 18, 2011 at 20:44
That's part of it, I am sure ... as well there's honey and oil so it is a different mix to the original one. Made two loaves this morning with 2 risings! Quite astonished, the crust is just about the way I like it, I am totally chuffed. I doubled the mix but mainly I think it was the starter since it's now some weeks old and going quite well I imagine. However nice today's loaves, there's much I don't know (I don't know what I don't know ;-) - it will be good to talk to others and best to see and feel the dough.
Comment by Jane on June 18, 2011 at 18:04
thats not much, would not have expected such a diffrence. Perhaps your ferment has just got better??
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 17, 2011 at 22:12
Twenty grams with 320 g of wholemeal.
Comment by Jane on June 17, 2011 at 18:27
Looks great Elaine, what % of white flour did you use?
Comment by Scarlett on June 17, 2011 at 7:25

yes - not!

have made another two loaves now with my new starter and i'm very happy with it. I fridged it over the long weekend when we went away and it was back in action about 1.5 days later. i bought some spelt flour and made a single rise loaf - the easiest and most delicious yet. only had to mix the ingredients in the dough mixer, put into a bowl to rise, then dump into a tin and bake! made quite a wet dough and it worked really well. will post some pics soon. yoke mardewi recipe again. also i rolled the dough in sunflower seeds, and i will probably do that all the time now because it is flat out delicious

Comment by Lissa on June 5, 2011 at 5:57
2 degrees sounds like fun Scarlett......not!
Comment by Scarlett on June 4, 2011 at 10:40

i didn't know you can freeze the starter! 


guess what - in a moment of credit card weakness at the local bookshop I bought Wild Sourdough  so will hopefully be able to make incredible things very soon....(although it's so cold here it takes AGES to get the starter going...)


you could put the basin on a wooden board on the hot water heater maybe? what about an insulated strawbox?


i find one loaf lasts several days - possibly enough to feed up the starter for the next lot if you never fridge it? or just double up quantity with two basins exactly the same?


hopefully i don't kill this starter this time...was hoping it would be ready for the weekend, but it's going to take a while. was 2 degrees when i was warming up the car to take the kids to school this week..brrrr!


we've got instant gas hot water, so no good. thought we had hydronic (water radiators in the walls) heating but they don't work and the owner didn't tell the real estate agent! not happy :(  they would have been perfect...*sigh* 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 3, 2011 at 7:02

I notice Linda Woodrow's blog with her recipe and comments about the fruit and nut sourdough breakfast loaf. Salivating times!


I left my starters on the hotwater system for one day too long and they ended up in the compost. I had put some Rye-based starter in the freezer as a backup and, thawed, it came alive and is working furiously on a mix of Rye and Wheat. The hotwater system, even though it gives out very little heat and much less than the older one, is still a bit hot to leave the starter there more than overnight. I've come to the conclusion I don't need two separate starters, just make the Wheat one from the Rye and feed it up ready for the loaves and the Rye rests in the fridge. Have yet to sort out a system which will work for me at minimum input of my time and memory and yet give me a large enough batch of starter to make the loaves.

Comment by Shirley on June 1, 2011 at 20:49
I've just had a look at the Sourdough Forum, what a great find, that will keep me occupied for weeks lol
Comment by Scarlett on June 1, 2011 at 18:07
good heavens! that site is insane ! i picked a photo i liked the look of and now feel grossly overawed/ inadequate. but i'm on day  2 of my new starter nevertheless

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