'Real' bread, revisited - a sourdough tale.

There has been a bit of bread action in our house over the last week or so. The reason? A young sourdough starter, eager to make it's way in our kitchen.

I have to start this tale by saying that sourdough is not new to us. Indeed, I had quite a fulfilling affair with it some two years ago. I was smitten.


Somewhere along the line a series of events caused me to stop baking my beloved bread.

1. The hearty filling bread, being so full of character, filled young bellies after just one (good) slice. Not wanting to appear frugal in the lunchbox department, I insisted on packing sandwiches made of two (good!) slices for the tweens' lunches. Oh yes friends, they were packed off to school everyday with a doorstop sandwich of the most generous proportions..to which, every day their bag would come home with the leftover slice. Sometimes days would go by and they would present the leftover offerings to me in the most apologetic fashion, asking meekly "Will the chooks eat these?" *sigh* This is what it had come down to, me baking hearty breads for our hens. Oh..now I was feeling particularly valued. No wonder their eggs were so good!

2. The crusts, being 'real' bread, are most appealingly crunchy. For me at least. I dare not talk for hubby's tastes, but I confess, the crusts came home just as often as the 'leftover' slices.

3. Thirdly, only the keenest homebakers continue to bake their weekly bread over the summer months when temperatures swelter into the 40's. Sometimes even the most active starter gets neglected. Forgotton at the back of the fridge *blush*.  "I'll bake tomorrow evening, when it's cooler".
"Oh, I forgot to feed the starter yesterday, I'll do that now and bake tomorrow when it's not so hot". "Oh, bugger, a week has gone by, I'll just feed the starter to keep it going until I get around to baking (when it's not so ragingly hot)".
"Oh. Dear. It's the end of summer, I wonder how my starter is going...*Gasp* Mould? Fluffy mould? A hard skin? All dried out? This cannot beeee....*wail* It's dead!".

A sad tale indeed.

But my friends, there is an upside!

This time around there will be no imposing my tastes on my tweens and their lunchboxes! They may eat as much or as little of my offerings as they please, there will be no enforcements.

They can even cut the crusts off if their little mouths so desire!

And at the onset of Summer, I hereby vow to place a small receptacle of our precious new starter into the freezer to await it's emergance again the following Autumn. Perhaps I'll even continue to feed a token starter in the fridge, to bake with when temperatures permit.

My starter was created in a most cringe-worthy manner, but I have come to the conclusion it worked.

Into a glass (hubby's big beer drinking glass, to be exact), I placed: a cup (250mls) of water which had been allowed to stand overnight (to evaporate chlorine) and three dried dates. This was left for a few days but all that seemed to take place was a murkiness of the water and some unsightly shapes inside it. Unconvinced anything was taking place, I added 1 teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of homemade yoghurt. Another couple of days went by. It really looked like a frightful mess with curds of yoghurt and brownish liquid.

What to do?

Strain and add flour. Rye flour, organic. A day and bubbles appeared...and then some more! Another feed, at a ratio of 1:1 flour/water. We were back in business again! It was alive and frothing!

After the first couple of obligitory brick offerings and a few more feeds, it rose my loaf! (My, that sounds raunchy, doesn't it?)

But it did!

If you are at all interested in sourdough baking, I cannot reccomend the book below enough! It has been a godsend, both then and now, so full of knowledge and tips that make baking this kind of bread so much fun!

What I'm enjoying most though are the slow rise times. Sourdough is so forgiving at when it can go into the oven, not like dry-yeasted breads. Another half hour until I can bake? No problem, I'll just stick it in the cold part of the house!

Yes, it is a slow bread and planning needs to take place, although very little time is spent in the actual preparation of the bread! It's so time friendly that it can happily sit away for hours on the kitchen bench while I'm off pottering, or in and out of the house on errands.

White leaven loaves

..and right now, I can't get enough of our 'real' bread again, crunchy chewy crusts, holes to sink honey through and that slight tang that is so characteristic of sourdough! This is winter bliss at it's best!


  1. Gasp - you must have read my mind! I have just become interested in the idea of sourdough bread and started to research how to make my own starter last week. I'm very interested to read what you have to say. I didn't consider summer and how I'd feel about baking bread when it was too hot. Hmm. I think I'm still gonna do it.

  2. I am so besotted with sourdough now, I can't imagine us ever breaking up! I have a loaf of my Everyday Sourdough cooling on the kitchen bench right now. The honeymoon period has waned enough so that I don't have to cut a slice to eat hot straight out of the oven any more. But toast for breakfast is something to look forward to.

  3. I've added that book to my Amazon Wish list - maybe someone will surprise me with a copy at Christmas. I've not had any luck with sour dough since we moved to this larger house but I've decided to give it a try once more and put the starter out in the laundry room as it's a smaller room.

  4. I fear to imagine the fate of sourdough starter in my fridge...the words "Health Department" come to mind.

    But I have baked many a loaf of Irish soda bread - so quick and simple and tasty! At one point, I was baking a fresh loaf twice weekly, and the chickens saw very little of that.

    We're hitting summer (or it's hitting us, more like) so it will be some time before bread-baking resumes. I'll enjoy your pictures in the meantime, though!

  5. I keep thinking about sourdough, I tried to make my own once with my own starter ...and the bread smelt like something had died (I think a bug must have got into my starter!) - even the chickens wouldn't eat it.
    Thanks for recommending that book though, I think I will attempt sour dough again.
    Have been making delicious homemade spelt bread in this cold weather and there is just nothing like homemade bread with local honey dripping off it!!
    Kim http://thelittleblackcowblog.blogspot.com

  6. I had the same thing happen with my starter a few years ago and it was about 2 yrs old . I have tried a few times since and just can't seem to get a good starter, might try your starter and see how it goes.

  7. yeah, yeah!! :-)
    Good to have you back in the sourdoughy fold my girl. Long live the wild yeast...crusts or no crusts.

  8. You were brave to take the beer glass, I wouldn't dare! :)

    It sounds like I need more patience, I think I have been on the right road but too impatient and critical of the appearance of the starter. Thanks Christine.

  9. Just stopped by from Living a Little Greener, and I love your space here! I will be setting aside plenty of time to go through all of your recipes and preserving tips. I have always been intrigued but intimidated by sourdough. Maybe in the fall I will give it a shot...it gets way too hot here to be regularly baking bread, which is such a shame. Oh well, lots of canning and gardening to do though!



  10. I keep hoping someone will get me a starter, so I can skip the first step! your bread looks amazing!

  11. Oh I can relate so well to your lunchbox stories with the sourdough bread. My husband complains every now and then that the bread is too 'substantial' and he longs for airy, light, white bread, even if it is gluggy! The kids don't dare say the same but I do see a little longing in their eyes every now and then. So I buy bread...and it (also) gets fed to the chooks. The grass isn't really greener on the other side it seems. So onwards we go with the sourdough bread.
    I am finding winter baking harder than summer. It takes so much longer to coax the starter to wake up and get active. All my normal timing and schedules are totally thrown out of kilter with an uncooperative starter. I am almost tempted to let it just hibernate in the back of the fridge until winter is over!

  12. Lovely looking loaf!
    I'm a newbie to sourdough baking (and bread baking in general!), but after taking a class (for anyone in Melbourne, I really recommend the class with Kat Lavers advertised on http://www.permablitz.net/), I'm amazed at just how easy it is. My partner finds it too dense for his lunch sandwiches, but loves it for his morning toast - keeps him full well past smoko.
    I'll keep your starter recipe in mind just in case. I've already had to resuscitate my starter once :)

  13. It is such a winter comfort food, isn't it, veggiegobbler! Loving the sourdough atm, but need to be a little organised with when I'm planning on baking (eg..feed starter today, make dough tomorrow, bake it the following day - a three day cycle!). It's good though..all so deliciously good! Do it!!

    Oh, the honeymoon period, yes Linda! What fun this has been. I tried your fruit loaf with maccas last week (and apricots)..it was very good although we lost a macca in the toaster...yikes! Smoking!!

    The book is fantastic, Becky. Well worth the small investment.

    Ha, that's funny quinn! I've never tried a soda bread...must add that to the 'to do' list ;)

    Hmmmm, spelt bread. Now this sounds good, Kim!!

    It's so frustrating losing a good starter, isn't it Debbie! To be honest, I don't know if the sugar was really needed, it was a spur of the moment action...best of luck with yours :)

    Exactly, Brydie! I think your slogan should be printed on t-shirts!!

    Tee hee, Rose! It's not exactly beer drinking weather at the moment so I thought it would be safe to take ownership of the glass for a while...
    It definitely is a bread that needs patience. Much of it!

    Hi Brenna! It's good to have you here! :)

    Hi Dmarie, find someone who is local that is baking it and pester them until they send you home with some in a cup ;) I shared mine with a friend the first time around and it was a great success.

    Oh, phew!! Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in these sourdough experiences, spice. Families can be so fussy at times, can't they! It feels great to be baking it again without hangups or preconceived ideas. Interesting about the winter baking..I have to say I've just placed the starter next to the fire to warm it into action a little. Fingers crossed!

    Hi Jen, thanks for your tips. For anyone west of Melbourne, The Red Beard sourdough bakery in Trentham also offers day courses with lunch..have heard they're very good. You are quite right, it's a great morning toast bread!!

  14. Christine, your loaves look fabulous - will someone please explain to me why I'm the only one who can't manage a decent circular slash? You and Brydie are sooo impressive, making your own starters, mine was rubbish! And just couldn't agree with you more about Dan's book - Dan, Dan, he's our man, if he can't bake it, no-one can! ;-)

  15. Aww, Celia, you know I am in absolute awe of all bready things you create. I have to say, this starter looked rubbish (I did have pics but just couldn't post them..so bad!). So glad to have this book living on the kitchen bench right now!! :)


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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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