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Published March 29th 2020
Feeding your mother
Mastering bread making and sourdough is extremely addictive. With every loaf, you feel like you are moving towards perfection with every element to be mastered from the best climate, best proving and of course, the intricacies of the cooking. Every baker has their style and tips and techniques, and you can spend hours just wading through the internet for many of these. It isn't until you start doing and experimenting that you develop your own and become so comfortable you can get the consistency each time. That said, it isn't hard.
Once you start, you may never stop until you reach the utopia of perfection. After telling you all this, I am also going to tell you it is easy to get going. It might take a week to build your own starter, but you'll never use dry yeast again.
The starter is a fermentation that develops naturally. It is often called a mother or madre. Every starter will be different and as you navigate through your bread making journey, you will find what works for you and your 'mother'.
Developing your own culture dates back many centuries and many Italian bakeries still use a mother that dates from these times. That is because it is a living culture and you feed it just like you would a Tamagotchi. I went on an extended holiday and had to find a friend to feed and look after my mother.
The first step is to combine 200-gram organic flour with 150mls of lukewarm water and a teaspoon of organic mild honey. Mix all your ingredients and place in a plastic container in a warmer part of the home. Leave the lid slightly ajar. It will take a few days for the ferment to start to bubble, at which time you will get a strong smell of alcohol coming from the bowl. Don't worry, this is all a part of the process and how the flavour starts to develop, and it is also the time to feed your starter.
To feed the starter discard 100gms of the mixture and add 200g flour and 150g water. Mix and leave again in your warm place. Continue this process again after another 2 days. You now have a starter ready to use. The starter is now kept in the fridge with the lid on. You either use half your starter in a week or throw it away as you feed it with flour and water (2 parts flour to 1 part water). You will now need to feed every week to keep alive. If you don't bake one week and you don't want to throw out, why not donate to a friend.
I have found some great recipes online but after many attempts, my favourite is this one from The Kitchn . This is a great spot for tips on getting your crust .
Love to see and hear all your tips and techniques, favourite recipes as you get going with your starter.