Something in the air…

June 7, 2010

So, I have just finished my third week of sofa surfing, and it’s not going too badly. I’m getting used to living out of a suitcase and sleeping on unfamiliar beds. I’m even getting used to not having all my many, many pairs of shoes immediately to hand (or, maybe I should say, foot!).

But, most surprisingly, I’m actually getting used to not having my own kitchen to cook in. To be honest, it’s quite nice to have a rest from cooking every night, and the great thing about staying with friends who are also good cooks is having dinner made for me.

There is one foodie thing that I have not been able to give up on, though, and that’s my sourdough starter. I made a few loaves with it when I was in my old London flat, and took it to my sister’s in Brighton when I moved most of my things there last month. And a rather strange thing has happened – the starter has gone completely bonkers.

It was always a fairly frothy, smelly mess, but since it has had a blast of sea air, it’s just exploding all over the place. I know that it is the yeastiness in the atmosphere that makes a sourdough starter what it is, but I wasn’t expecting this. And when I made my first loaf with it a couple of weeks ago, the flavour was amazing.

I’ve made a point of making some sourdough every weekend since moving in with little sis and her husband (a small thank-you for putting up with me), and I’m happy to say, it’s just getting better and better. Holey, strong-flavoured, moist of crumb and crunchy of crust, it’s become something of a Sunday-breakfast ritual for us.

Even Archie the greyhound is enjoying a few morsels – although I’m not sure I’m too happy about him getting his chops round my hard work. But I suspect I don’t have much say in the matter…

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18 Responses to “Something in the air…”

  1. Choclette Says:

    Oh how wonderful, I love the idea of your sourdough taking on a bit of Brighton air. So glad you are not abandoning it, there aren’t many foodstuffs that can live with you for years – you are going to take it with you aren’t you??? It looks delicious.


  2. Hi Choclette. I’d love to take the starter to Istanbul with me, but I’m not sure I’d get it through Customs! I may have to leave it with my sister and brother-in-law. They’re both like to make bread too, so I know it won’t go to waste. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder what kind of sourdough will emerge from the Turkish air…

  3. Nick P Says:

    Wow! I’ve been recently exploring the joys of sourdough. My word it has rocked my world. Yours looks thoroughly virile in its bubbliness 🙂


  4. Hehe, virile is the word! It’s a constant source of amazement to me that my sourdough loaves taste so different every time I make them. And I’d definitely say the starter gets better with age.

  5. Ravenous Ro Says:

    Ahh the wonders of you staying in the spare room is I m off to have a slice right now.

    After watching Mary Portas fail to get a bakery to bake proper bed, I can say you don’t need 36 years to get it right.

    You could easily run a fab artisan bakery in Instanbul if the fancy takes you.

  6. Ravenous Ro Says:

    Even to bake proper bread…..


  7. Why thank you, kind landlord! In theory, I love the idea of a little artisan-style bakery. In reality, I’d rather be tucked up in bed at 4am every morning, not slaving over a rising dough!

  8. MaryMoh Says:

    I am not into baking but am very inspired by this one. Your bread would be so good with curry. Hope to start making bread one day.

  9. jasnieres Says:

    That bread looks scrumptious.
    I suppose I will see you at the wrong time of the week next Thursday to try some.
    Oh well, that pleasure to come later.

  10. Christina Says:

    Missing you and wishing you were back.


  11. Hi Christina. Glad to see I haven’t lost all my regular readers yet!
    I’m going to be a bit more settled over the next three or four weeks (with my lovely friend Lene in south London), before I head to Istanbul mid-August. So I’m definitely going to try and do some cooking and blogging very soon.

  12. Christina Says:

    O.K., I have to admit I do watch reality TV and last night, I’m so glad I did. I was watching The Bachelorette and they’re in Istanbul. I’ve never seen the city but it is absolutely gorgeous!! You are one lucky girl!!


  13. I feel very lucky Christina. Istanbul really is an amazing city – and not just because the food is fantastic, although that does come pretty high on the list of reasons why I’m so happy to move there!

  14. Tooting Says:

    Hi, Helene linked your site onto her Facebook page.

    And I really like your blog.

    Now, a question.

    Do you refresh your starter daily, or just take it out of the fridge and make sourdough once a week? I went on a bread making course once and had a starter dough but it fell into disrepair and I’m thinking of maybe starting again, but remember it as a daily pain. Your blog hints otherwise?


  15. Hi Mr Tooting! Thanks for taking the time to have a look at my blog – and glad you like it. It took me a while to get to grips with my starter – I found a lot of the online advice really confusing. But this is the recipe I had most success with…

    http://sourdough.com/blog/sourdom/beginners-blog-starter-scratch

    I began by feeding it every day, for a week or so. Now I keep it in the fridge, and take it out and refresh it the night before I make my sponge. And, if I’m not going to make a loaf, I’ll still take it out of the fridge once a week or so and refresh it. It seems to keep going really well by doing that.
    The best recipe I found for sourdough bread is this Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall one…

    http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/river-cottage-sourdough-recipe_p_1.html

    I’d really recommend giving it another go – it’s so satisfying pulling a fresh, crunchy loaf from the oven! And if you want one of those proving baskets (which makes it all looks sooo professional!) I got a good one from Divertimenti in Marylebone High Street. A bit expensive, but I reckon I’ve got my money’s worth from it.
    Good luck!

  16. Tooting Says:

    Thanks. Yes that all makes sense. You’ve talked me into it!

    The course I went on was by Dan Lepard. He’s well worth checking out if you haven’t stumbled upon his name before.

  17. Chele Says:

    I am now on my third attempt at making a starter … or at least I will be once I’ve been to the shops! I’ve managed to kill the first two and the smell of them is not something I’m able to appreciate I’m afraid. Still, your bread looks so tasty, that you have encouraged me to have another try ;0)


  18. Go for it, Chele, that’s my advice! It took me a couple of goes to get my starter right, but nothing seems to stop it now.
    And I know what you mean about the smell – it’s certainly distinctive! Although, I actually quite like it now.
    Anyway, I hope you have more success this time. Come back and let me know how you get on.


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