Sourdough Diaries: 10 Facts About Sourdough

Sourdough Cottage Loaf

1.  Yes you can go on holiday.  Your sour dough culture, when you are not baking with it, can be refrigerated for several months unattended and the wild yeast will become dormant.  If you are away for several months you may have to give it some TLC  upon your return but it will come back to baking fitness within a few days.

2. Your bread does not have to be sour. It’s a wild yeast culture. If you like sour breads you can achieve that San Francisco sourness by following specific steps during your baking process.  The acidity it produces using usual baking methods will not produce a sour loaf, instead you will get a background ‘seasoning’ and not a mouth-puckering acidity.

3. It is easy to translate any ‘commercial yeast’ bread recipe.  Calculate what ratio of flour and water your culture is fed and just deduct the weights of water and flour from your existing recipe.  Maintaining a culture with 50% water:50% flour makes it incredibly easy to translate.  The assembling instruction would remain the same, the proving times will extend and become more flexible.

4. You don’t need to keep and maintain more that one mother culture eg a rye starter, a spelt starter, a plain bread flour starter.  One is enough.  I maintain a culture fed with plain organic bread flour, and if I am making a rye bread (which I want to be almost 100% rye), I take a teaspoon of my sour dough culture and gradually feed it up to the amount I need for my rye bread sponge using a rye flour as the sour dough culture food instead of plain white bread flour.

5. Hands-on time to make most sour dough loaves rarely exceeds 15 minutes and a simple sourdough recipe can be as little as 10 minutes.

6. If you like more acidity in your breads just increase the amount of rye flour you use.

7. Your sour dough culture does not rule your life!  Your sour dough culture will work for you, you control it, so you can fit your bread-making with your life style/schedule.

8. Every sour dough culture becomes your own.  By all means have a go at making your own (there are lots of recipes available) but if you get offered a healthy, tried-and-tested culture with some history: use it!  After a few months in your kitchen it will have evolved into one that carries the bacteria and wild yeasts from your own environment.

9.  Never ever add commercial yeast to your sour dough culture- your sour dough culture is unlikely to survive the encounter.  I am pretty strict with my sour dough culture so I won’t have mine out of the fridge if I am handling commercial yeast; but you don’t have to be quite that stringent!

10. Most importantly, your sour dough culture will make the best breads you will ever taste.

I am selling portions of my sour dough culture. If you are interested, please send me an email.