About ten years ago, when I lived in Brighton, I had a pet called Bambi. I took my responsibilities very seriously, and made sure that it was always warm and well fed.
But then my life changed. With a new career, I was away on business a lot, and not at home to take care of things. For a few months, I was technically homeless, and it became clear Bambi would have to go. I asked various friends if they would offer a home, but no-one seemed interested, so in the end I flushed Bambi down the loo.
Before you write an outraged comment, perhaps I should point out that Bambi was a yeast culture, a sourdough starter, used for making bread.
This came to mind again a couple of days ago, following a comment on
However, as I say, it’s been ten years since I last did this, so I thought I should put it into practice again before telling people how to do it. There are several ways to make a sourdough starter, but the way I learned to do it starts off with a simple mixture of flour and water, made into a moist dough ball, and left in a warm place for a couple of days. No yeast is used, the whole idea is to utilise natural yeasts either already present in the flour, or in the air itself.
After a couple of days, this turns in a unappealing crusty ball, and it doesn’t look like much is going on. However inside there should develop a core of gooey, yeasty goodness, which will eventually burst out of the ball.
When this happens, you scrape the yeast into a clean non-metallic container, and throw the crusty bit away. To the yeast, you add some flour and water, and let the culture grow. Once it develops, you use it instead of shop-bought yeast to make your bread, but you always keep a little of the starter back to grow into more yeast for future loaves.
Anyway, that’s the theory, but I didn’t expect to have such immediate success. I made my initial dough-ball 3 days ago, and the yeast erupted today in a spectacular fashion. Delighted, I used the core to make a starter, which is now in a tupperware in my airing cupboard.
Only after doing all this, I realised that I should have really taken some photographs. So while that starter is growing, I am going to start another one, using rye flour, for a change. Over the next few days, I will take some snaps, and document the progress here, together with more detailed instructions.