Before you can make sourdough bread you need a sourdough starter. This is known as a pre-ferment, or levain (French). The starter adds a unique sour flavour to the bread.
Every time we go overseas I put Cordelia, my sourdough starter, into the freezer. When we get back I defrost her slowly in the fridge. As soon as she is ready to go I start my weekly cycle of bread baking. However, when we got back from Europe last September something went wrong. My sourdough grew mould. I had only a pinch of the dried starter left which was not enough to revive Cordelia. I was not too concerned as I had queries from readers’ wanting to start their own sourdough from scratch. To this end I had a few recipes to try out. The first one used grated apples and the first day was a huge success but after 3 days it had gone off. So that was binned.
The second method called for feeding slowly until the sourdough had doubled in size. I managed to get this one to start off well for the first 5 days. But the starter needs a constant temperature of over 28° Celsius and even though my weather app told me we were in for a lot of hot days, that didn’t happen. And so my second batch failed. The third attempt was a huge success. I took a recipe for Levain which is a super quick way to get a starter going and dragged it out to make my sourdough have that perfect smell and hydration. It is super easy to do and if you have a few hot days coming your way then get started. After I had successfully made this I added the pinch of Cordelia I had left over and my new starter is called Cordevain.
Click on the links for conversions and notes.
for the pre-ferment
- 1 kg bread flour divided
- 1 l water divided
for the pre-ferment
- Place 250g flour and 250mls water into a plastic bowl
- Mix together using a fork and cover with cling film
- Make several holes in the cling film and place in a warm, draft free place
- After 24 hours pour off 150g of your starter and set aside
- Discard the rest in your dustbin
- Feed by placing 250g flour and 250mls water into the plastic bowl
- Add the starter, cover as above and set aside as above for 12 hours
- Once again pour off 150g and feed as above
- Set aside for 12 hours and then repeat the feeding process
- Set aside for 24 hours by which time little bubbles should have formed
to create a 100% hydration
- Weigh your starter *
- Add equal amounts of flour and water
- Mix well and store in a sterilised glass bottle
I feed my starter each week by removing 125mls and adding 60mls flour and 60mls water
Inspiration published on Lavender and Lime March 13:
- 2016 – Body And Mind Synergy
- 2013 – Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream
- 2012 – Wasabi
- 2011 – Pomegranate Restaurant