Monday, 12 January 2015

Sourdough Starter for the Bread Machine

I am very interested in Sourdough bread but not knowing very much about it and never having tasted it  I am not quite sure what I a dealing with but from what I have read it is meant to be better for us.  From what I understand the natural yeasts used for the ferment are much kinder to our systems and our absorption of nutrients by our bodies is thus easier as a result.  When you have medical conditions where you re recommended to cook from scratch with wholefoods and not pre-prepared food items because there are all sorts of unnecessary additions which affect the way your body works then somewhere along the line for your own health you have to start taking control of what you eat.

I happened to be browsing some of my existing books over the Christmas holiday and I found this Sourdough Starter for the Bread Machine which has to be made three to five days ahead of when you want to make bread (and then kept going) so I thought I would have a play and see how I get on.

This is an experiment for me in that (1) will I like it (2) does it have a place in my pantry.  On the face of it. it does but I intend to work through the practicalities and try to get to grips with the process involved which on the face of it looks very long winded and complicated.  However in any event this is a first foray and if I find other recipes then I may try them as well. I seem to have a vague recollection of Hugh Fernley-whittingstall starting his culture with green grapes.

I have an Internet friend Richard who writes a blog who I read avidly who started off making Sourdough for his own interest and satisfaction who has gone on to turn his passion into his own small business based on Sourdough products which I think is admirable.  

Anyway here is the recipe for the Starter which is taken fro the new bread machine book by Marjie Lambert.


250ml/8fl oz low fat milk scalded

250ml/8 fl oz hot water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast

350g/12 oz plain or  bread flour


Mix the milk, hot water and sugar.  Let it cool to between 40 degrees C (105 degrees F) and 45 degrees C (115 degrees F0, then add the yeast.  Let it sit until the mixture develops a foamy head about 5 to 10 minutes.  Then add the flour and mix well.

Loosely cover the bowl with a lid that is partly ajar and put in a warm place between 27 degrees C (80 degrees F) and 38 degrees C (100 degrees F).  Leaving the bowl partly uncovered allows air to circulate and airborne yeasts to collect in the starter.  Within 24 hours it should be bubbly and develop a hint of a sour smell.  Stir it once or twice a day.  The mixture may separate with a thick gluey mixture on the bottom and a watery liquid floating on top.  That's normal just stir together.  The starter is ready when it develops a good sour smell usually after three to five days.

For preparing a sourdough bread you need to prepre a sponge at least six hours in advance of making the bread.  Mix some starter with a portion of flour and liquid as detailed in the receipe.  Replenish the starter with amounts of flour and water equal to the amount you removed.  For instanceif the recipe calls for 125ml (4 fl oz)of sourdough starter replenish the starter with 125ml  (4 fl oz) water and 115g (4 oz flour).  Both the sponge and the replcement starter should be put in a warm place covered loosely and left to ferment for at least six hours until bubbly.

If you use the starter frequently say on a daily basis you can leave it in its wrm place all the time replenishing it after each use.  If you use it only occasionally, replenish it and then let it stand for 24 hours then cover lightly and refrigerate.  If you don't bake at least weekly refresh the strter every week or so.  Remove 250ml (8 fl oz)  of the starter and dsicard the rest.  Add 130g (5 oz) of flour and 250ml (8 fl oz) water.  Let it stand for 24 hours and then refrigerate.


Every six months or so add a pinch of sugar and yeast to the starter

The starter will  never look attractive (grey) is its normal colour.  However if the starter or the liquid develops a green or pink cast throw the whole thing out and start again..

Once I have this up and running I will come back with some recipes on how to use and whether it has been a successful experiment or not for me and whether I will continue with the Project. 


  1. Hi and thanks for the mention, I'm loving your updates. I'm also getting ready for Marmalade time and your Mango Chicken is superb.
    Best wishes, Richard.

  2. Presumably you make the dough in the bread maker and then bake it on a tray?

    I must admit to loving my breadmaker, I use it every week to bake bread for us. what I will do if it 'dies' I do not know, suspect it will be off to JL for another one.

  3. Hi Richard

    Marmalade this coming Saturday - Sourdough starter on the go will probably make Friday night. That's no problem. You are the expert I am playing and experienting. Glad you are enjoying the updates. Take care Pattypan x

  4. Hi Anne

    Am going to post the second part which is the basic bread recipe later but you are indeed correct the breadmaker is being used to make the dough and then the loaf is cooked separately in the oven. Hope you are okay and holding up. Hope Edwin is a little easier for him and for you. Take care. Pattypan xx


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