Saturday, May 4, 2013

Starting with Sour Dough Starter

It's a good thing I'm not a perfectionist and understand when you try something new for the first time there is going to be a learning curve, because creating a sour dough starter for the first time certainly has one hell of a learning curve.

I've always wanted to try a sour dough recipe. My mum did her own last year to great success, so I was eager to have a go myself. And with my $2 a day challenge coming up on Monday I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try something new and save some money in my piddling $10 budget for the week.

So I dove straight in and read a lot of blogs about sour dough. Most of which recommended buying a pre-made starter until you get a hang of sour dough. 'Ha', I scoffed, 'I bake all the time. Just watch me make a perfect sour dough from scratch first go.' ...

Hmmm, maybe I spoke too soon.

I used a very simple starter from the Stone Soup, and even improvised by using sultanas, which I'd read on another blog as I didn't have any yogurt. 

Day 1 - right after I mixed it together
By the second day I was feeling really optimistic. The starter had doubled in size and was starting to bubble. This is really going to work, I'm really going to be able to make my own sour dough!

Day 2 - my starter behaving exactly how I expected, I feel so proud
But on day 3 I started to worry. This is when the smell arrived. It didn't smell all that bad I suppose, just like something that's been left in the fridge a bit long. I read many blogs again. 'Yes', they said, 'it will smell... a little sweet... a little fruity...' Was it fruity though? I couldn't tell, what if something's gone wrong.

I discarded half the starter into the compost heap like instructed (while trying not to breath in), and fed it with fresh flour and water.

I didn't take a photo because I was a little embarrassed.

So here we are on day 4. I have to confess, I actively tried to ignore my starter today. Every time I went near it I'd catch a waft of the smell and my heart sank a little further and I averted my eyes. Eventually I bit the bullet and had a good look. It wasn't very promising - there was a layer of stagnant water simmering away on the top.

I madly Googled sour dough starter trouble shooting and read further. Expect it to smell, just keep feeding it and discarding half each day. Let it get past the smelly phase.

I don't know though... I've got my doubts that this is going to work. And I certainly don't think I'll be baking with it in the next couple of days.

Looks like it's $1 bread from Aldi then.

Day 4 - the sour dough starter from the black lagoon

Has anyone made their own sour dough starter before? Please share you tips (or condolences as I feel it might be).

Or... share you baking disasters, sometimes it's better to grieve together.

Don't forget... You can sponsor me in my Live Below the Line Challenge by clicking here. The money raised goes towards educating children in Cambodia and New Guinea in order to break the poverty cycle


  1. Considering I can't make eggs or beans without burning something, I think this would be a step too far, haha!

    Good luck with the May Blogging Challenge, I'll be cheering you on! x

  2. What did you do? It's just flour and water. Who told you to put sultanas in it? That's just bizarre. You do need discard half and feed it every day. That might have been the problem. I'll get some more going and give you a bit of starter from my discard.