For the last few years I've been fascinated by sourdough bread - don't worry I'm completely aware how weird I am. I love the idea that because the starter is built on the natural yeasts in your environment, every one is slightly different and unique to you. I also greatly prefer the slightly sour taste.
However, as is often the case with things you only know a little about, I had decided that it was not for me as I would be unlikely to make a bread a week, let along every second day which is what it seemed like it was designed for. Not only that but I doubted that I would be able to apply the diligence to keep the starter alive when I had read things about the requirement for 12 hour feeds etc. So making my own sourdough went in the "sometime in the mythical future" basket.
But as often happens, fate intervened in the form of the amazing women from the CWA. Just before Easter Mum saw an ad for a bread making course which was initially full but a cancellation let her attend. It was all about sourdough and she came back completely enthused. We visited for the long weekend and over the course of a few days, that enthusiasm spread. We played with bread producing delicious loaves all weekend and as we left to come home, she presented me with a jar of starter. So there I was, I had starter, I had some basic knowledge, the time to play with it had come.
Since then I've found that you can successfully keep your starter in the fridge. I feed mine once a week and make bread roughly every fortnight as we aren't huge bread eaters and sourdough bread has the benefit that it doesn't go stale like regular bread.
I feel irrationally proud when I feed my starter and it bubbles up indicating it is really active. And don't get me started on how exciting I find it when my initial mix (known as sponge) triples in size over night and becomes the base for a great loaf.
I tend to use Laucke bread mixes as the base as they are excellent quality flours, have a great balance of salt and come in a range of interesting mixes. We have been enjoying both the Crusty White and German Grain in recent times.
I've also had a go at making sourdough crackers and pancakes are next on my list.
The whole experience has reminded me of that lesson that I should really have learned by now which is that very few activities are beyond our ability to learn or at least have a go. Pre-conceived notions are filled with lack of knowledge and prejudice so if you are fascinated by something, why not give it a try. After all the result could be Saturday mornings with fresh bread for breakfast like it is in my house now!