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 Β½ cups warm water

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

To make: Dissolve yeast in Β½ 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 ΒΌ 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 Β½

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 :)