Conquering the fear – Making a bread starter

Quite some time ago Mr LG gifted me with a copy of “Bourke Street Bakery – The Ultimate Baking Companion“. To my surprise, when I dug out my copy today, I came to the startling realisation that I have never made one single thing out of this book. I did find inspiration from the chocolate sour cherry biscuits when I made these chocolate and blueberry spice cookies, but not one single loaf of bread from this book has ever graced my kitchen. Don’t get me wrong there are loads of mouth watering bread recipes in here and I have poured over this book many times trying to decide what to make first, but I think if I was honest I have fallen over at the first hurdle which to me was the rather daunting task of making a ‘starter’ and most of the bread recipes in this book use a “white or rye starter” in the recipes. I have always wanted to make a sourdough, but the thought of bringing a starter into the world, carefully nurturing it daily through its first weeks of life until it is finally ready to produce a stunning loaf of bread…well let’s just say I am not the most reliable person to be looking after something that requires feeding everyday – just ask my dog, which knows to look to Mr LG for brekkie!

So, back to the starter and bread, it is time to conquer the fear and get on with it. I don’t intend to go all  “Julie / Julia” on you and bake every recipe in this book, but there are definitely a lot of recipes that I want to try. Now as I am following these recipes word for word it wouldn’t be fair to the authors if I repeat the recipes here. If you want to make your own starter and breads there are plenty of recipes on line or alternatively you can purchase the book.

Today as I only have organic rye flour in my kitchen I am beginning with a rye starter.

Firstly sterilise a glass jar, in the book they use a bucket, but I wanted to watch the progress of my starter and a glass jar seemed like a good way to do that.

The recommended ratio for rye starter is 60% water to 40% flour as rye flour absorbs more water than white flour.

Stir the flour and water together with a spoon and leave it overnight.

I introduce to you ‘Hamish Lemongrove’ born 29th January 2014.

Next week I will be getting some organic white flour to make a white starter, I will be looking for a new name for the next addition to our little family so any suggestions will be welcome 🙂


36 thoughts on “Conquering the fear – Making a bread starter

  1. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, bread baking is just the best – I cannot wait to see some of your lovely loaves in in the near future – I just know that you will bake the most wonderful breads using the “Hamish”!

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      I am planning on making a lot of bread 🙂 Now that I work from home it is a lot easier to make as I can fit the different processes throughout the day. The Bourke St Bakery has lots of beautiful breads which use either a rye or a white starter so I wanted to have both on hand, of course I may be being a bit ambitious for my first foray into starters….

  2. gotasté

    Oh Karen! This is such an accomplishment. I have baked many breads but I don’t think I will have the courage to bring a starter to life at all. Too challenging for me. I am sure hamish will grow well and for the white starter, I would really love the name SnowWhite 🙂 Happy feeding! Warmly, Danny

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      Thanks Danny, I love baking and more to the point we love eating bread so thought I would try a bit of a challenge. Fingers crossed it works and I end up with some lovely sour dough. Either way it is an interesting experiment.

  3. saucygander

    Ooooh exciting!! Looking forward to seeing more of Hamish!
    I started my own starter (sorry, terrible pun) in December, and managed to keep it alive over the holiday period. But in order not to kill it, I keep it in the fridge (which retards yeast activity so it doesn’t need to be fed as often), which means I have to revive it before using it for bread, which I forget to do. So, I’ve yet to make bread. But I know that perfect sourdough loaf and even panettone is just around the corner! 😀

  4. laurasmess

    I am terrible at maintaining sourdough starters. I’ve killed three so far and I’m not confident enough to start another! Hamish looks great though, here’s hoping that he will grow and develop into a wonderfully bubbly starter! My last starter was named ‘Gloop’ but he died a slow and disappointing death. So I wouldn’t recommmend reusing the name 😉 Good luck! x

    1. saucygander

      Laura! my starter was called Gloop for the first week too! It just looked, you know, gloopy! But now I call him Patrick (long story, possibly for another blog post). So, Patrick nee Gloop is proof that the Gloops of the world are not doomed to a slow gloopy death!

  5. Cathleen

    I love that you named your starter. I too have always wanted to make sourdough breads – this just may give me the push I need (or maybe not). It will be fun to follow your progress though. 🙂

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      Actually the naming idea came from Jas @ Absolutely Jas, hopefully it will make it seem more like a member of the family that does indeed require feeding every day (unlike the 10th basil plant I just accidently killed)

  6. David

    You might actually get me to make a starter, too, so that I can taste good homemade sourdough. So much of what we get is not really good (from bakeries). I also love that you get Bob’s Red Mill flour! I dream someday of going to Oregon to see the factory and maybe meet Bob! Oh, and for the white starter, how about Count Dracula, as he will be rising daily?

  7. anna @ annamayeveryday

    Such a coincidence! I have been making a cheaty sourdough recipe recently and because we love it so much I have had the sourdough starter recipe propped up in the kitchen for the last week to remind me to get on with it and make the real thing!

  8. Gather and Graze

    Welcome to dear little Hamish! Wishing him a long and prosperous life… I’m sure he’ll bring you and Mr LG so much joy and will grow up to be big and strong! 🙂 So impressed that you’ve made your very first bread starter Karen! I’ll be watching with interest to see how it all goes!
    After searching a few sites for Scottish baby girl names (not that you have to have one of each, just thought it might be rather nice…) I came across ‘Fiona’ which means white/fair and thought it may well be suitable for your little organic white child to be!?

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      I am pleased to announce Hamish made it through the night and is awaiting his next feed 🙂 I like the name Fiona that fits in with the Scottish theme nicely, someone just came up with Count Dracula as he will rise daily haha..

  9. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes

    I had a starter for more than five years and forgot it when I moved years ago… it’s very rewarding to make sourdough bread. Let’t watch Hamish grow! I have the Tartine bread book, and never made a single recipe yet. But the pictures alone are worth it.


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