My sourdough experiments…

You may recall my previous post about sourdough and my first experiences using the sourdough starter that Selma sent me, derived from Celia’s starter all the way away in Australia. These starters have given birth to endless loaves and experiments all over the world and a whole new community of sourdough bread bakers πŸ™‚

As is my wont, however, I wanted to find out how to create my own starter, and make a sourdough loaf completely and utterly from scratch in my kitchen (I do still have some dried ‘Star’, the starter I created from Selma’s dried starter, in my fridge as a back up, I’m not completely nuts!!) so I got busy looking up methods and had a go…

This is what I found on kitchn.com and the instructions I followed for the first starter I made; it was amazing, just mixing flour and water and leaving the mixture to draw yeast from the air in my own kitchen. I got so excited everyday as I fed it and watched the bubbles develop: so let me introduce Bodicea, my very own starter..


..she created a very different looking loaf from the ones I baked with Star. The dough did not grow as much during the proving, and the bubbles that did grow were a lot bigger. I had to knead the dough more often to encourage the proving, and when I baked it, the top looked like the surface of the moon, as if covered in craters..


The boys tucked in though, and ate the whole loaf, very happily, which filled my heart with joy πŸ™‚ 

I decided to make another starter from slightly different instructions to see if it would behave differently when I came to bake a loaf..Bodicea the second grew happily, just like her predecessor, and again the dough performed as before, the dough did not grow huge during proving, but it still baked well and created a good, holey, loaf..


You can see in the first photo below how the dough proved with big bubbles..


I have to assume, therefore, that this is the type of yeast that floats around my kitchen (I try not to think about just how weird that sounds!) and that this is how loaves will develop with my homemade starters – and whilst the boys eat their way through every loaf I bake, I have to assume I’m doing something right.

Having had a kitchen full of sourdough starter recently, I’ve also made all sorts of pancakes with it rather than waste it – and they’ve all been eaten up too! 

I recently watched a cookery show that explained the history of sourdough bread: it was first created in Egypt, in fact, sourdough is the oldest form of making risen bread using yeast, wild yeast as it is in sourdough. Prior to this discovery, the world only ate flat breads; so I have been creating the oldest form of bread in my own kitchen! Wow! Isn’t that cool?? 

I’ve now got another starter experiment brewing in my kitchen so I’ll let you know how Bodicea III performs πŸ™‚ 

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49 thoughts on “My sourdough experiments…

  1. apuginthekitchen

    I have always had such bad luck with starters or levain. You really did well, look at those bubbles. Except for my most recent levain all my previous attempts were catastrophic. It’s all a science experiment. The loaves look great.

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  2. Selma's Table

    Bodicea turned out so well! Congratulations are in order! Apparently, the older the starter gets, the stronger it gets, so you might find that it is rising as well as Star did, in a little while. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

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    1. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

      That’s interesting, I made another loaf today that rose more than all the others have πŸ™‚
      Thank you honey, it’s all thanks to you sending me the dried starter – I had no idea how much I’d enjoy using it! xxxxx

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  3. Karinna

    Your bread looks so delicious! I’m a little lazy with bread baking – B makes some from time to time, but we (literally) have a wonderful bakery twenty seconds from our door and more often than not, when we do get bread (which isn’t really very regularly) like to support them. But your bread has me tempted to grow my own pet πŸ™‚ Out of interests the food programme you watched? It wasn’t the one with Dave Myers by any chance?

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  4. FrugalHausfrau

    I would happily tuck in to either loaf, and love the name (especially being the old feminist that I am!) I think the more you mess around with yeasts and baking, the more yeasts you’ll naturally find floating around in your kitchen for the starter to catch and develop with, and the more complex your starter will get and will become more robust with time. I just mostly cook with very simple doughs now, but was pretty seriously into bread baking years back. After reading so many posts about this starter, I’m getting the itch!

    Very interesting experiment you have going though!

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    1. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

      Thank you – I’d love to see what you would do! I’m really enjoying playing, and I’m encouraged that you and Selma have both said that the starter should get stronger with time too – I’ve made so much lovely, holey bread, and my boys have loved it all, but it hasn’t risen as much as I’d hoped, and sometimes has been a bit doughy still, so I’ll keep playing with cooking times etc. it still all gets eaten because they toast it and almost finish off the cooking process! X

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      1. FrugalHausfrau

        This might be off base, but is it humid or dry there? And are you messing around with putting a few spritz of water on the dough as it goes in the oven to get a little steam – or a pan on the bottom of the oven that you toss a little water in when the bread goes in. That will give you a boost of oven spring. You can check the dough with a thermometer, too, to see when it’s done. πŸ™‚

        I love toast made with good bread – the problem is I so seldom make bread anymore, we fall on it like wolves as soon as it’s out of the oven! We can’t even wait until it cools like you’re supposed to! LOL!

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      2. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

        I think it is more humid than dry, but not overly humid.
        I haven’t included any water in either method, I’ve been baking the bread in an enamel lidded pot to create its own steam inside it…

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      3. FrugalHausfrau

        I do that too, and preheat the pan. Then I drop in the dough and have about a tablespoon and a half of water in at the ready. I toss it right on top of the dough and slap the lid on as quickly as I can. It makes the crust amazing and I think it rises higher. It’s worth a shot, anyway. πŸ™‚

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  5. Sophie33

    Yum yum yummm! Your are a culinary sourdough queen! Ooh yes! Your SD breads look amazing & now, I would like to eat at least 2 big slices please with some good butter & some local honey! Yummm!

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  6. M-R

    I’ve been trying to get Portia interested in life since receiving Celia’s envelope of Priscilla on Thursday evening (starting Friday morning, I mean). But she doesn’t seem to have the will to live. It could well be my own fault, for having picked up the wrong fork to stir with on one ‘adding’ occasion – meaning that I could well have introduced something into Portia that she doesn’t like. That’d be me all over. Now thinking I’ll start from the word ‘go’, as you did. How long did it take for your own to be ready, please, MSPF ?

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    1. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

      That’s a shame, Celia’s Priscilla is so strong as well :/
      It’s really easy to make your own starter, it takes a good week to bring one to life, and it can then be used to bake a loaf. I am finding that the starter gets stronger with time and mine now bakes a better loaf than it did when it was first developed. The more you use it the better it gets basically. You have to be good at throwing some away though, I struggled with that bit but if you keep too much it will get sluggish x
      I hope this helps xx

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