I've tried many methods, with limited success, but could never be positive and confident that each loaf would turn out well.
We've been eating quite a few bricks along this journey, but I'm pretty sure those are behind us now.
In this post I'm going to show you;
How to revive a mother that you thought was dead;
How NOT to waste flour each time you feed her.
I know I'm not alone in this quest for a good loaf, so I'm going to share with you a condensed version of what I gleaned from many hours of searching on-line, speaking to other bakers, watching endless YouTube instruction videos and trialing more methods than I can remember.
This is not an instruction post on how to make sourdough for the complete beginner, there are hundreds of sourdough instructions on-line and in books that have all the relevant information about the basics.
I'm a huge fan of Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's sourdough recipes and this superb tutorial.
I highly recommend you watch this to learn the basics.
Rather, this is a troubleshooting correction of what I was doing wrong. Maybe I can point you in the direction of that light bulb moment of successful loaves too.
I'm assuming that you are already familiar with, and in possession of, a reliable starter/mother, and you know how to look after her. Here is Celia's excellent post about how she cares for her mother that she has named Priscilla.
To prevent confusion I'll call her 'mother' from here.
You thought she was dead!If I've
Simply scrape off the crust and discard, or if there was no crust, but a watery layer on the top, just stir it into the mixture.
Spoon out a heaped dessertspoon and put into a clean jar, feed her with equal amounts of flour and water (1/4 cup of each), stir well, cover loosely and sit on the kitchen bench.
I keep approximately one cup of mother in my jar. That's all.
I do have a spare jar of mother in the freezer, just in case..... you know.... you never know what's around the corner and yes I'm one of those people who usually has a spare of most things.
How NOT to waste flour and water every time you feed your mother.
One thing I didn't like about sourdough, was wasting all that flour and water when feeding my mother every day. All the instructions tell us to discard half, and feed with fresh flour.
I Hate Wasting Anything! I felt very bad tipping that into the compost and lets face it, how often do we really want to be cooking up pancakes, flat bread, crackers or cakes to use up the discarded portion of sourdough mother? As much as I love all those things too, I rarely have the time to add that into my schedule.
Some of my friends have given up baking sourdough because of that waste, (and baking
So here's what I do now.
I bake a loaf at least twice per week, so my mother is being refreshed often, but she remains in her jar in the fridge. When I want to bake a loaf I prepare a bowl of sponge the day before.
9 - 10am the day before baking a loaf take mother out of the fridge and scoop out 2 heaped dessertspoons into a small bowl. This leaves approximately half of the mother remaining in the jar.
Now feed mother in the jar with 2 heaped dessertspoons of flour and enough water to maintain the correct consistency which is usually equal parts flour and water.
Cover the jar loosely and return mother to the fridge. No need to keep her out on the bench, just put her straight back into the fridge.
Mother has been fed, covered and returned to the fridge.
Feed the small amount of mother in the bowl with 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.
Stir to combine, cover loosely with plastic cling wrap or waxed cloth, and place in a warm spot. If your kitchen is warm, the sponge will be happy to do its thing on the bench.
Slide a teaspoon of sponge into a glass of water. If it floats it's ready to use.
Never try to make a loaf with sponge that doesn't pass the float test.
Assuming your sponge has passed the float test; it's now ready to mix a loaf.
In my next post I'll show you my new (to me) stretch and fold method and how to rest and bake the loaves in the way that works for me in my kitchen, with the utensils I have on hand.
Here and here are some other great blogs that have helped me understand the the science and magic of sourdough.
So do some reading and I'll see you back here in a day or two with the second installment.
Once again, I remind you that I'm no expert, but this is my adaptation of a mix of all these sourdough recipes and methods that works for me.
If you live around here in the Barossa, and you would like to get started on your own sourdough