Your personal shoppers, leaving home not required. Shop gift guides »
🔕 🔔
Loading…

My Basket ()

All questions
F8c5465c 5952 47d4 9558 8116c099e439  dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 2 years ago

A true sourdough starter is predicated upon wild yeast spores which are obtained by first soaking either fresh organic grapes or organic raisins in warm water, then adding whole wheat flour, which is also a good source of wild yeast (known as saccharomyces exiguus). The starter, or barm, is then fed combinations of bread flour and water over a period of a few days in order to grow the yeast population. A sourdough starter is a bit more acidic than a starter based on commercial yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) in that it naturally grows both lactic and acetic acids, hence the creamy and tart, or sour, flavors and aromas.

F8c5465c 5952 47d4 9558 8116c099e439  dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 2 years ago

An excellent, very usable book to grow your knowledge and experience is Peter Reinhart's The Breadbaker's Apprentice.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 2 years ago

A starter is the term used for flour and water that has become colonized with wild yeast and bacteria. You can make a starter yourself from flour and water - and patience - either with or without other ingredients that accelerate the colonization (like the grape skins mentioned above.) Or you can just borrow a small amount of starter from someone else. Either way, the culture is maintained by perpetually discarding most of it and then "feeding" the remaining starter with flour and water.
In contrast, a mixture of flour and water and commercial yeast is not called a starter. There are recipes that call for commercial yeast to be mixed with small amounts of flour and water and then allowed to "pre-ferment" before being added to the dough. This pre-fermented mixture is called a poolish. Some recipes - like the baguette dough in Tartine Bread - call for the addition of starter (or levain, in French) as well as poolish.

6cb49ef7 38b5 4eb6 aae4 04078f60ca73  how to make a custard part 1
Shuna Lydon

Shuna is a pastry chef in New York City and author of the acclaimed blog Eggbeater.

added over 2 years ago

All sourdough starters are natural starters but not all natural starters (or Poolish - as mentioned below, are sour. The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard is the best book I know for learning a myriad of techniques, from all over Europe, for making bread of every kind - natural yeast to quick bread.

To be clear, a "sour" starter is one that has gone off. Controlling that "sourness" is tricky. It is said that there is more wild yeast in the air in California and Germany, but wild yeasts of all kinds exist everywhere. And that is the beauty of making bread from a starter - it's always a bit of hope, alchemy, magic and science that makes your next loaf come out!

There is a maize bread in Dan Lepard's book that calls for starter & yogurt (I used Labne) that is gorgeously sour and dense. I could not stop toasting and eating it when I had it in my kitchen!