Sourdough – science in the kitchen

In my last post I touched on my latest cookery book, ‘Perfecting Sourdough’, by Jane Mason.  I’m finding it all so amazing (I know, I’m very easily amazed!) I really had to tell you about it.

Perfecting SourdoughI’ve tried to get a sourdough starter going before but just got a nasty, smelly, watery mess in a jam jar but an article in one of the Sunday papers recently set me off again.  I followed the instructions to the letter and got… another nasty, smelly, watery mess.  (One of the reasons for a failed starter, apparently is a too clean house…)

Once I’d picked myself up off the floor and wiped my eyes I headed off to the internet, where I found Breadtopia, where Eric had the answer to my problems.   Eric uses unsweetened pineapple juice in the starter and it worked perfectly.  I love the whole science lab experiment thing of creating a new life form on the kitchen worktop (rather than the back of the fridge where they usually happen) 

Once you have a happy, healthy starter you use a portion of it to make a loaf and the rest sits in a jar in the fridge for next time.  Once it gets a bit small you refresh it with a meal of flour and water and it just keeps going.  There are reports of some starters being over one hundred years old!

Making sourdough bread is long process, but not an intensive one.  Apart from the kneading stage, which takes ten minutes and is a good anti ‘bingo wing’ activity, the rest of the time it just sits about rising and requires a bit of poking now and then.  The result is DEE-licious.  Much more flavour than ordinary bread, the slow rise makes it more digestible, and its just wholemeal flour, water and salt.


I was horrified to learn that one of the 17 ingredients of a standard sliced loaf was actually palm oil.

So that’s why I splashed out on this book.  Lots of lovely recipes for different breads, cakes, pancakes and waffles using a sourdough starter which I’m looking forward to trying out.

Have I whetted your appetite?  I’d love to know if you decide have a go at making your own starter, or if you are a seasoned baker and have some tips to share.

See you soon…x


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4 thoughts on “Sourdough – science in the kitchen

  1. Philothea

    My house must be filthy because I found sourdough super easy the first time I tried, but since then I’ve read of so many people having struggles that I’m scared to try again. Maybe I’ll try that Pineapple solution!

  2. Toffeeapple

    The several times that I have tried to get a starter, I too ended up with a nasty, smelly, watery mess. I might give it one more try if you think it will work! I usually buy my bread from the artisan baker in Stony Stratford, no nasties in that.

  3. Sue

    The idea of wild yeast and natural starter has fascinated me ever since I got “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field. I haven’t tried it myself, but I do make my bread from starter made with a small amount of commercial yeast. Usually let the starter work anywhere from 6-24 hours, then make the dough next day with a little more commercial yeast, giving it plenty of time to develop. The bread just tastes better for the long cool rise.
    The pineapple juice sounds interesting!

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