Sourdough is a bread product made by a long fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts.
Sourdough Starters are a flour based mix containing wild yeasts that give sourdough bread its distinctive and sophisticated flavour.
Fresh, live sourdough starters. Ready for your first sourdough bake in 36 hours.
To make a good sourdough you need a reliable starter culture. Dried cultures can be difficult to activate – so I only sell fresh, live sourdough cultures which are very reliable and easy to get going.
You can also make other breads with a sourdough starter such as pita bread, ciabatta, pancakes, pizza and bagels.
San Francisco Wild Yeast Starter
150g………….. £7.00 including postage
Although there are many different types of starters, San Francisco sourdough is one of the most famous sourdoughs in the world because of its coveted crust and distinct sour flavour. This starter is full flavoured and works well with all wheat dough. It is very dependable and probably the most popular one to begin your sourdough baking experience. This starter is meticulously cared for and fed only on the best organic wholemeal flour. It is robust and will adapt well to any flour. It is raised in a clean home where organic, non- toxic cleaners are used.
This San Francisco culture is at least fifteen years old. Sourdough cultures stay true to their heritage by resisting other bugs and if cared for should last a lifetime.
Rye Sourdough Starter
150g………..£7.00 including postage
My Rye sourdough starter has only ever been fed with organic rye flour and contains no wheat.
Rye bread contains large amounts of fibre and a small amount of fat. Rye bread has a low glycemic index which means it does not cause a spike in blood sugar as white bread does – thereby is beneficial to diabetic patients.
Whole grain rye flour has more soluble fibre than whole-grain wheat flour thereby making whole grain rye more effective for controlling the cholesterol level in the blood which is responsible for heart disease and high blood pressure.
Rye is very useful in a wheat free diet or where wheat intolerance is experienced.
Spelt Sourdough Starter
150g………£7.00 including postage
Spelt is naturally high in fibre and has higher protein levels than wheat, as well as B complex vitamins and both simple and complex carbohydrates. Many people who suffer from wheat-intolerance find spelt easier to digest, which is one of the reasons for its growing popularity.
Spelt is available in white and wholemeal. It is generally higher in protein than common wheat but tends to have a slightly weaker gluten than the strongest bread making wheats.
Wholemeal spelt has lively populations of natural yeast and bacteria and produces a vigorous sourdough culture in a shorter time than ordinary wheat flour.
Buy Sourdough Starters
Sourdough is an ancient bread with thousands of years of bread-making history behind it. Sourdough bread has a distinctive taste, the result of lactic acid produced by bacteria used to ferment the dough.
Most modern bread is made with baker’s yeast. Sourdough is used to make bread the traditional way – before commercial baker’s yeast. There are several advantages to eating naturally fermented bread instead of bread made with yeast.
A good sourdough starter is probiotic – like kefir – and contains multiple strains of beneficial microflora which are necessary in order to maintain a healthy intestinal tract. The bacteria and yeast in the sourdough culture work to pre-digest the starches and sugars and break down gluten in the grains, therefore making it more easily digestible.
Sourdough requires a longer rise time which increases the lactic acid and creates an ideal pH for the enzyme phytase. This enzme breaks down phytates more effectively than in yeast breads. When the phytic acid is disabled our bodies are able to take full advantage of the nutrition we are consuming. Sourdough rye has the least amount of phytates – making it a healthier bread.
As the bacteria eats at the starches and sugars in the grain, it lowers the carbohydrate content of the bread which helps control blood sugar levels, preventing troublesome spikes and dips.
The acetic acid which is produced along with lactic acid, helps preserve the bread by inhibiting the growth of mould.
Compared to conventional yeasted bread, sourdough is definitely the more nourishing choice. Your sourdough starter will create and house all the yeast and lactic acid bacteria that you need to start baking your own sourdough bread.
ACTIVATING YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER
If you are culturing multiple products such as kefir, yogurt, Kombucha etc. or baking with commercial yeast you must keep a distance of several feet between each culture type to avoid cross-contamination.
The sourdough starter should be fed at least three times to fully activate the yeast prior to using it for baking.
On receipt of your starter which weighs 150g place the contents into a clean wide-mouthed jar or bowl – size about 2 litres.
Add 150g of tepid, non-chlorinated water and 150g of flour and stir well. Use the same kind of flour as the starter was grown in. Try to incorporate a significant amount of air into the mixture. Once your starter is fully activated, you may then continue to feed the starter and bake with a different variety of flour if you wish. It’s easy to convert your starter by just a few successive feedings with the flour you want. You may have to adjust the water as some flours are thirstier than others,
Cover loosely with kitchen roll and a rubber band – do not secure with a lid. Place in a warm area between 70 and 85 degrees F for approximately 4 -12 hours until it has become active. It is important that the temperature stays within this range otherwise the culture may not work. The length of time will depend on the nature of the sourdough starter and the room temperature. Sourdough that has become active or has “proofed” becomes light and bubbly. The gas created often causes the sourdough starter to expand therefore it is important to use a large enough jar initially taking this into consideration.
Repeat this process two or three more times.
For each “feed” use equal amounts of starter, flour and water by weight. If you find you are making too much starter during this process you can discard/compost some or use it in other recipes. Also, if you have some starter in the fridge use some of this fresh starter to feed the refrigerated stock.
KEEP YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER HEALTHY!
Sour dough requires the correct environment to thrive. They need feeding daily or weekly if kept in a fridge.
They require a warm temperature between 65 and 85 degrees F.
They require a constant food supply
Non- chlorinated water
A non-reactive container for storing and feeding
When feeding your sourdough starter you need to use equal weights of starter, water and flour. However, the measurement ratio can vary slightly depending on how dense or heavy the flour is.
How often you feed your starter is dependent on how often you bake with it. If you use your starter say three times a week there is no need to refrigerate it – just keep it in a warm place and feed it daily and it will be ready when you are ready to bake.
However, if you only intend to bake once a week you should refrigerate it and proceed as follows:
About 2 days before baking discard any liquid that may have formed on the surface of the starter. Remove 50g of the sourdough starter and place it in a non-reactive jar or bowl and feed it by adding 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water, mix together incorporating plenty of air. Cover with a loose lid or towel so the naturally created gas can escape. Leave in a warm place for 4 – 12 hours until the starter becomes active (bubbly)
Repeat this process twice more before baking – using the same ratios.
It is important to establish how much sourdough you will need for your bread recipe in order to avoid making far too much sourdough starter. Discard some starter before each feeding or use it in other recipes or to feed the starter remaining in the fridge. (The master starter) This discarded fresh starter will feed the master starter for a week.
After the 3rd feeding your starter should double in size within 8 hours of being fed and be very bubbly meaning the yeast and bacteria are producing sufficient gas to leaven your bread correctly.
MAKING YOUR SOURDOUGH BREAD
This is a basic recipe to get you started, but there are dozens of variations available.
- 4 – 5 tbsp of sourdough starter
- 6oog strong bread flour – white, wholemeal, spelt, rye or a mixture
- 10g of fine sea salt 250 ml of tepid water (un-chlorinated))
TO MAKE THE SPONGE
The night before you want to make your loaf – create the sponge:-
Take about 4 – 5 large tablespoons of the active starter and combine it with 300g of the flour and 250ml of tepid water in a large bowl. Mix well with your clean hands, then cover with cling film and leave overnight. In the morning it should be clearly fermenting – thick, sticky and bubbly.
TO MAKE THE DOUGH
Add the remaining 300g of flour to the sponge mixture along with the salt. Mix it altogether with your hands to make a sticky dough. If it seems too firm add a dash more warm/tepid water but if it is unmanageably wet add a little more flour – but it should be fairly wet.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead – stretching and folding giving the dough a quarter turn every few stretches. Work the dough this way until it becomes smooth and silky, this will take about 20 minutes. This can be quite tiring so it is fine to take breaks and knead for 5 – 10 minutes at a time and repeat as necessary.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly with a towel and allow the dough to rise 4 – 12 hours) If you desire a more sour taste plan for a longer rise time (12 – 24 hours)
Sourdough rises very slowly so give it plenty of time. (I leave mine overnight).
Now gently deflate the risen dough by pressing it down with your fingers on a lightly floured surface. You now need to give the dough a second rising. This is the stage where you shape your bread. If you have a baker’s proving basket use this. First dust it generously with flour and place your dough in the basket – seam side up as the smooth side of the dough which is nesting in the basket will finally become the top of the loaf. Cover and leave to rise again for about 4 hours or until the dough has roughly doubled in size, after which time the dough is ready to bake.
Slash the top of the loaf with a lame or sharp blade. This allows the loaf to expand during baking without splitting in unexpected places.
Preheat your oven about 2 hours before you are going to bake your bread at 250 degrees C or gas mark 10.
Try to create a steamy atmosphere in the oven which will help the bread to rise and develop a good crust. You can either use a spray bottle full of water and spray the inside of the oven when you put the loaf in the oven or place a roasting tin of boiling water placed in the bottom of the oven just before you put the loaf in.
Bake at 250 degrees C for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 200 degrees at the same time give the oven another water spray and bake for a further 25 – 30 minutes until the loaf is well-browned and sounds hollow when you tap the base. It can be difficult to tell if bread is really cooked through. To avoid a doughy cenre or dry bread, use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom/side of the loaf. Bread should be taken out of the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 98 degrees.
Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
Do not make sourdough bread when you are in a hurry! Compared with yeast based breads you will need much more time for the dough to properly develop. As a natural yeast, sourdough takes significantly longer to rise than dough made with commercial yeast. Timing is dependent on the specific starter and conditions in your home, so until you have established the best rise period for your particular starter, plan for a 4 – 12 hour rise period. You can adjust the time according to your personal taste and your home environment.
Do not be discouraged if your first sourdough bake is not perfect. This is perfectly normal. You will need to learn to get to understand your dough and its quirks in combination with your surroundings, your materials and ingredients.