Sourdough tastes good. It tastes reaallly good. Give me a fruity sourdough, with a little butter and I’m a happy woman.

I had toyed with the idea of making a sourdough starter for awhile, but it just seemed too hard. Too time consuming and too confusing as to what I was supposed to be doing. I read and I read, so many different ways to ‘start’ the starter, that my head hurt. All the pages were rolling into one, the words a blur, and nothing was sinking in. I closed my eyes at night thinking of starters and woke again, only to find my first thought of the day was sourdough starter…. Now what do I need to do again? Slash before prove or after? Steam? Oven at the hottest setting or turn it down a tad? Feeds beforehand? Ratio of starter to flour?…..?……?

Enough! Just do it girl. Get cracking.

Yes, there are a number of different ways to do it. Does that mean its complicated or versatile? Lets hope with versatile. I went with the “Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook” method, and for the next 3 weeks diligently fed dear “Suzie” (she had to have a name if she was going to be a permanent fixture in my kitchen) and hoped for the best.

* Now it must be said before I go any further. I’m a hack cook and a hack baker. I look for short cuts, I change recipes, and sometimes it could be said I completely bastardize recipes. Lets put it this way…. I’m not a sifter. Now this can be a downfall at times as the impatient me wants to take over and the delicate french chef in me gets thrown to the back of the kitchen. However, most of the time it works. The food is edible, and The Monkeys go to bed with a full and happy tummy. So for me, hack works… that being said, I wasn’t so sure hack was going to work in doing a sourdough starter.

I decided to do a rye starter. The rye apparently gets going easier and then you can switch over to normal flour, it just gives it a head start,(it’s then just a white starter.) So with rye flour and water in a bowl sitting on top of my fridge, the feeding began.

According to the method I was following, the starter wouldn’t be strong enough until after 3 weeks. But in the mean time I did play around with the portions I was supposed to be discarding.

Batch made with 'ferment'- oops

First up, a batch made at day 5. A Light Rye and Apple. Yeast used as a raising agent. Starter used more as ‘ferment’ taste. I have since read that you shouldn’t be using it at all at this stage as the bacteria levels are not right….. oops. I did wonder about this, as at this stage it smelt weird. Not like vomit, as I had read it could smell, just different… vomit didn’t sound so good.

Sunflower and Linseed with a small amount of dried yeast for backup. Fermenting overnight in fridge

Seeing if it would work in the bread maker. Yep it did. No yeast added and rose beautifully. It did go dry quite quickly though, when used in sandwiches, but fine for toast. I did try and start the bread maker in the morning and then left it sitting for a further few hours to prove before continuing on to cook. It rose beautifully again but then I worked out there wasn’t a just cook button and it had reset itself. So won’t be doing that one again…. dense, (the bread not me…or maybe a little of both.)

no commercial yeast, 10 hour prove

Light Rye with no yeast, two bulk proving times, and cooked 10 hours after starting.

Sunflower and Linseed, one feed 8 hours before mixing ingredients, 2 x 1 hour proving times with a knock back in between, then a slow ferment overnight in the fridge for 10 hours.

I still have to try the Bourke Street Bakery method of feeding the starter 3 ย times in 24 hours before adding other ingredients, then a long ferment over night. Some people do the extra feeds to build it up and some don’t. It seems there are so many methods in working with natural yeasts, and it’s just a matter of finding what works for me. That being said, if by chance anyone that knows what they are doing reads this and sees something that screams out- No you shouldn’t be doing that! Please let me know. Or just a sourdough tip, and the best methods that work for you.

Overall- I am really happy with the outcomes. I should have done a bread making course so all of this makes a bit more sense, and am hoping to down the track. But until then, I have a starter bubbling away happily, I’m producing edible bread, (actually it’s more than edible it’s really tasty!) I don’t have to rely on commercially made yeasts. I’m saving a bucket of money by not buying shop bread. (For the same price of 2 shop bought sourdoughs, I am getting 12 kilos of flour which in turn makes…. lots more loaves.) Then just playing around with different flavours, etc. like sunflowers, rye, bran, pepitas, apple.

I’m finding it so satisfying to make these breads, it really does feed my soul. I’m truly amazed that they rise and taste good, I just wish I knew more of the how, where, why part of bread making with natural yeasts.

In the mean time though, hack is working.

20 thoughts on “sourdoughs

  1. Hey congratulations – you made your own starter – wow! Your bread making efforts look great. I remember how exciting it was when I made my first few sourdough loaves. It is a very nice rythm in my life to make bread 2-3 times per week. I have been making all the bread we consume (except for the occasional ’emergency’ loaf that is purchased, or the protest loaf that Andrew buys when I start experimenting a bit too much with what goes into the bread!). The other bonus for me is that the good flour and the sourdough, combined with the fact that my bread has nothing but flour, water and salt, means that I can tolerate eating bread. All commercial bread triggers my gluten intolerance and makes me quite ill after a few days…but this bread I make seems to be fine. A total bonus as I love bread…especially when it is warm out of the oven and slathered with butter! I have been using the bourke street bakery method as well and it works fine for me. In the cooler weather we are having now I just leave it on the kitchen bench instead of the fridge for the overnight proove. Old fashioned razor blades are good for slashing the bread. I make rolls and sometime sweet or savoury rolls for my kids lunchboxes – herb and cheese this morning – which they love. I put a few of the recipes up on my blog a few months ago if you are interested. My hot cross buns were pretty damn good if I say so myself, so if you are a fruit bun addict like we are, then give those a try. Sooooo much nicer than any fruit bun you can buy and that lovely sourdough taste and chewiness…mmm. Must make some more this weekend myself…
    Happy bread making adventures!


    • Its such a lovely feeling to be able to say I don’t need to buy bread. Saying that, unless I can come up with a batch that The Monkeys will consistantly eat I may have to on the odd occasion. Monkey boy just doesn’t go for the sourdough at all, I keep hoping a different combination will win him over. He much prefers the yeasted ones.
      Thanks for the reminder of your recipes, I remember seeing some of yours and Celia’s and thought looks lovely but don’t have any starter…. but now!


  2. I’ve been making sourdough bread for over four years now using a starter I was given. She is ‘grandma’ because she is really old and passed down several generations of one family. I have to keep her alive for this reason and because we are addicted to sourdough bread, especially apricot and macadamia! I keep grandma in the fridge and feed her every time I use her. She doesn’t like the humid climate here so I ignore the advice that says to keep your starter on the bench. It’s been trial and error with my breadmaking but I find if I make it in the morning I can bake it in the evening to accompany soup. Or a fruit bread can be made in the evening and left to rise overnight to bake in the morning.The yeasted breads may be softer and rise higher but they just lack the flavour. One of the best books I found that really helped me was ‘wild sourdough’ by Yoke Mardewi. She is based in Perth and has a website which I believe is She answered my queries about looking after my starter. Her tips are excellent too and my bread improved after following her advice. You have probably heard of Yoke’s book but it is well worth having if you want to experiment with combinations – she even puts chocolate into some of her breads! I have yet to try this!


  3. Celia- Thanks for the bap link. I think that is the key word for Monkey Boy ‘soft’. Most of the breads I am making whether it be yeasted or sourdough is still with a firm crust. When I do make a soft yeasted one like the Honey Banana Bread or Honey Ricotta Bread he eats it up no problem. Even the deli bought sliced sourdough he is ok with- but its still soft. So will try again tomorrow and see if I can make a more Monkey Boy friendly one. The little Monkey however will eat what ever I give him- thank goodness!
    And you are right, on to my second bag of flour, delved in to daily ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Ann- Thats wonderful that ‘grandma’ has been going for so long. I love the sound of apricot and macadamia. So many great combinations that I can’t wait to experiment with. Thanks for the link- I think that one is going to be a wealth of information for me! Too bad I’m not on the right side of the country for her classes ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


    • Ahh, sourdough. Your bread look delicious!! I went through quite a sourdough baking stint a while back. What I liked most about it was that it was able to be left for long periods of time when rising (much more than yeasted breads), was not required to be kneaded, and the fact that I wasn’t relying on bought yeast. Watching it rise when baking was SO exciting too…ALL that yeast from the air?? Amazing!

      I stopped making it regularly for a few different reasons, the main one being that I was the only one that ate it. I would send it to school in my daughters’ lunchboxes and it would come home again, only to go in the chook bowl. Their little tastebuds preferred something milder, and buggered if I was going to go to all that trouble making it and buying the ingredients only to feed it to the chooks!

      I don’t think it’s worth keeping a starter going for the odd loaf here and there for us at this point in time.

      When starting baking s/d, this ended up being THE recipe I used all the time, and then changed flour ratios/ and added seeds, grains etc…

      I haven’t seen the Bourke St Bakery book, but if you can, try and get a hold of a copy of Dan Lepards “The Handmade Loaf”. Great book.

      It sounds like you’re having lots of fun with it, and that’s the most important thing ;o)


      • Thanks Christine. They do look fairly ‘rustic’, but I will keep working on it until I get the perfect loaf. I don’t mind making it every couple of days, as like you, I get really excited about the whole process! Its just damn fascinating watching what happens when I change things ever so slightly. Thanks for the dan lepard link- he is the man. Its interesting to see the different methods people have been using and what works for them.


  4. If you’re a hack, well then I want to be one! Your breads look great! I’ve always wanted to make sourdough and in fact a container of starter is way back in the fridge as I write this, being ignored for almost a year. I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around it. I know I’ll get there someday; glad to know you had a similar trepidation and look where you are? Sourdough heaven. Meet you there!


  5. Ah ha! What fabulous looking bread you are making! Just keep on doing whatever you are doing, hacks and all, It looks grand. I wouldn’t mind to come downstairs and find one of your sunflower and linseed loaves on the table in the morning !


  6. These breads don’t just look good, they taste divine. I’m lucky enough to live around the corner from this fabulous chef, on whose doorstep I showed up at 4.30 am this morning to watch a devastating World Cup loss to Germany. Never mind; we were greatly cheered by steaming hot sourdough, straight from the oven. Delish. Beautiful crust. The best bread weโ€™ve had since we arrived in Sydney. Thanks, Brydie!


  7. I need to become a hack like you…I need to use my sourdough more often, but your gram measurements…a professional in the making….I need to get my scale out for more than weighing the garden bounty.


  8. These look lovely! I have always wanted to try a starter, but for many of the same reasons as you I have always avoided it. It is probably not going to be something that I will dive into right away, but I will keep it on the back-burner! And I love the photos:)


  9. Pingback: how to make a sourdough starter « Cityhippyfarmgirl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s