Sourdough Stories

One of the recipes in the Farm and City Cookbook is Bernice's Sourdough Biscuits. Bernice MacDonald is my great grandmother. The biscuits call for 1 cup of sourdough starter, with the recipe for the starter on the following page. I know starters are used in different types of bread (I once watched a show on a 100+ year old pizza dough starter) and yogurt too, but that is the limit to my starter knowledge. Let's see what I learn!


Sourdough Starter

1 package of active dry yeast (1 Tbsp)

2 ½ cups warm water

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

To make: Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water. Stir in 2 cups of warm water, flour, salt, and sugar.

Beat until smooth. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, stirring 2 or 3 times daily, and covering at night.  The starter should have a yeasty, not sour, smell. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

To feed: After using part of the starter, you must replenish it. Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, and ¼ cup sugar. Stir into the remaining Sourdough Starter and return it to the refrigerator. Even if you haven't used the starter, it should be fed every 10 days, using a half batch of this recipe. My grandmother has kept the Sourdough Starter active in the refrigerator for months. Let's see how I do!


Day 0

I followed the instructions for Sourdough Starter. After mixing, it was the consistency of milk with a beige, yeast-like colour. The whole kitchen smelled like yeast and I loved it! It reminded me of the smell when I arrive in Windsor on the via train. There is a brewing company nearby in Walkerville and the air smells of yeast.


Day ½

After about 6 hours, the starter needed its first stir. I couldn't believe my eyes, and was so glad I opted for a large bowl. The starter was now the consistency of dough and it was bubbling up right before me. Apparently this is a sign the yeast is active because it is releasing carbon dioxide as a bi-product from breaking down sugar. Yay! I feel excited and accomplished :)


Day 1

In the morning (24 hours after I made the starter) it had lots of unpopped bubbles on top. The starter is very thick with a bit of liquid underneath. When I take the spoon out, the starter sticks to it and I have to peel it off like science experiment slime! Still smells yeasty and not sour. Thumbs up!


Sourdough Starter Day 2

Day 2

The liquid I referred to on Day 1 is now sitting on top of the starter. I felt a little concerned because there was a big change in appearance, but I still could see bubbles. Worried, but still optimistic.


Day 3 - before stirring

This morning I uncovered it and found the majority of the liquid on top (more liquid and less solid than before) . There were little bubbles coming up from the bottom (you can see them on top in this picture). I should also mention that each time I stir, it feels like there is sediment on the bottomof the bowl and I try to get all of what has settled combined with the rest. There is no component that sticks to my spoon anymore.


Day 3 - after stirring

The consistency has totally changed. It is not thick like Day 1 and 2. It is back to being a unified liquid that is smooth, beige, and smells like yeast. It is still a thicker consistency than Day 0. I am wondering if I should transfer it into a clean bowl because there is some dry residue on the sides of the bowl...hmm. The worry is growing!


Day 4

This morning when I "woke up" the starter, it was more or less the same as yesterday - a liquid on top, with a semi-solid below. I held the spoon up for the photo so you can see what I mean. It smells yeasty and small bubbles come up from the bottom when agitated. I plan to use some of it tomorrow, so it will have it's first feeding!


Day 6 - part 1

I used the starter yesterday (Day 5) to make Sourdough Cornbread. The cornbread was tasty BUT I don't think it turned out perfectly, and I'm blaming the starter! I transferred to a jar and put it in the fridge. I should have fed it then but I was busy and my gut was telling me something was wrong. So I took it out of the refrigerator on the morning of Day 6, which you can see here. I decided to get rid of the liquid on top. I carefully poured it off, and a little bit of the starter as well.


Day 6 - part 2

After pouring off the top liquid I fed the starter, using 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/8 cup sugar. This is half of the suggested feeding, but I am going more on intuition now. I also chatted to a friend and her partner grows starters from flour, water, and weeks of time on the counter (no yeast) so I feel like anything goes! I put it in the refrigerator and prayed to the bread gods!


Day 7

I couldn't bring myself to write about day 5 and 6 until today, which is Day 7. YAY. Is all I can say. The starter has responded to the feeding and grew! It is a thick, nice consistency with air bubbles dispersed throughout. I took the lid off and the starter immediately started to grow taller. It was really cool. So, it is alive. I am so happy!


Day 8

I made a leaven with the starter for sourdough bread (pictured here). I used 1 Tbsp of starter combined with flour and water, and left it overnight. Hopefully the next picture I post will be a loaf of sourdough!

Starter Day 10

Day 10

I made sourdough bread! I stretched the process out over a few days and made a few errors but I think it turned out really well! The bread had a nice, thick, crust with a soft chewy inside. So delicious! I'm keeping my starter in the refrigerator and plan to feed it once a week with a mixture of 4 oz. water and 4 oz. flour. I have read a lot about starters - growing and maintaining them. I have decided to try this type of feeding and will see how it goes :)