'Stay At Home' Starter Challenge

Self-isolation is not a situation anyone thought they would be facing as an individual or family when we rang in 2020. There is a heightened sense of anxiety as we globally fight a pandemic we are still unsure of.


With schools now closing, and more and more of us having to work from home, we thought we would kick off our new #ChattingFoodCommunity era with a challenge that involves minimal ingredients, a fair bit of love, and something we can all do to ensure we have some great baking opportunities in the upcoming weeks and months.


Why not use this time to love and make your very own Sourdough Starter, so in a week you are able to make fresh bread for minimal cost, but epic taste.


Send us your starter pics to @ChattingFood and we will share!




The instructions below have been kindly donated by Chef Hugh McGivern proud owner of Lossiemouth House


Chatting Food Starter Challenge


The secret to any sourdough is to treat it well and feed it regularly, even when you are not using it. You take some out and discard it then feed it to keep it fresh.

There are many recipes but they all have the same basis.


Rule of thumb is when beginning your starter is. Warm kitchen, cool ( not cold) water. Cold kitchen, warm ( blood heat) water. And measure accurately.


Day 1: Make the Initial Starter - and name it. It has to have a name.

  • 100g Plain Flour

  • 100g Cool water

  • Bowl or Plastic Container

Place the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Weigh the flour and water, and combine them in a 4pt glass bowl or plastic container (not metal).


Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with clingfilm or a clean kitchen towel secured with a rubber band.

Day 2: Feed the Starter

  • 100g Plain Flour

  • 100g cool water

Take a look at the starter. You may see a few small bubbles. They will eat the sugars in the flour and release carbon dioxide (the bubbles) They will also increase the acidity of the mixture, which helps fend off any bad bacterias. At this point, the starter should smell fresh, mildly sweet, and yeasty.

If you don't see any bubbles yet, don't panic — depending on the conditions in your kitchen, the average room temperature, and other factors, your starter might just be slow to get going.

Weigh the flour and water for today, and add them to the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with the plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Place the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 3: Feed the Starter

  • 100g Plain Flour

  • 100g cool water


Weigh the flour and water for today, and add them to the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with the plastic wrap or kitchen towel again. Place the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 4: Feed the Starter

  • 100g Plain Flour

  • 100g cool water

Check your starter. By now, the starter should be looking very bubbly with large and small bubbles, and it will have doubled in volume. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and honeycombed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste sour and a little vinegary.

Day 5: Starter is Ready to Use

Check your starter. It should have doubled in bulk since yesterday. By now, the starter should also be looking very bubbly — even frothy. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and be completely webbed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste even more sour and vinegary.

If everything is looking, smelling, and tasting good, you can consider your starter ripe and ready to use! If your starter is lagging behind a bit, continue on with the Day 5 and Beyond instructions.


Transfer your starter (or now Mother) to a large Kilner jar, or clip-lock plastic box

Day 5 and Beyond: Maintaining Your Starter - Feed ONCE A Week

  • 100g plain flour

  • 100g cool water

Once your starter is ripe (or even if it's not quite ripe yet), you no longer need to bulk it up. To maintain the starter, discard (or use) about half of the starter and then "feed" it with new flour and water weekly: weigh the flour and water, and combine them in the container with the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter.


READY TO BAKE?


Chef Duncan Parsonage tells you how to make the perfect sourdough bread using the following recipe.


Day One around 8 am

in a mixing bowl add:

  • 150g Starter

  • 225g Filtered (or boiled and cooled water)

  • 100g Strong white bread flour

Day one around midday:

Add a further 100g Strong white bread flour to the above and stir in


Day one around 4 pm:


Add a further 300g Strong white bread flour and 11g of fine sea salt to the above, combine with a dough scraper or the handle of a wooden spoon until it forms a dough, then tip out onto a workbench. Don’t be tempted to add any more flour!


Knead for 8-10 minutes until it becomes elastic and smooth. As this is a long overnight prove, kneading isn’t overly important, the gluten will develop anyway.


Next, lightly oil your bowl from before, then transfer your dough back into it. Cover with oiled cling wrap or enclose inside a large bag and leave at room temperature for a further 2 hours. After the two hours have passed, tip the dough out again and flatten slightly. Now gather each edge into the middle, creating tension on the underside and a nice taught shape. Flip the dough over, and using your cupped hands turn and continue to form a neat ball. Imagine you are trying to catch water from the tap with your hands!


Heavily flour a proving basket then transfer your dough into it, seam side up. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave out for another hour before transferring to the fridge overnight


Day Two:

Carefully remove your risen dough from the fridge and remove the cloth.

Boil the kettle and pour the contents into a tray inside your oven. Put your risen dough on the shelf above, then close the door.


Allow approximately 2 hours for the dough to get warm and rise a bit more. You are aiming for an increase in the size of approximately 75% of the mass you began with. Touch the dough lightly it should spring back, indicating that it is still raring to go.

Turn your oven to the highest it will go, ideally 250◦C and put either a pizza stone, an upturned oven tray or a Dutch oven* inside to get hot whilst pre-heating


Meanwhile, carefully invert your dough from the proving basket onto a piece of baking parchment dusted with flour, then ease the dough onto the peel or tray. With a sharp knife or razor blade make a couple of slashes in the top of the dough, being sure not to deflate it. Spritz the surface generously with water


Take your dough to the oven and slide onto the tray inside, quickly spritz the inside of the oven a few times before closing the door


After 10 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 200◦C. Bake for 30-35 minutes until chestnut brown.


Allow cooling properly before slicing!


*If using a Dutch oven, take the preheated pot from the oven and remove the lid before using the edges of the baking parchment to lower it carefully inside, spritz the inside of the pot and trap the moisture inside with the lid. After 15 minutes remove the lid and return to the oven*


FULL RECIPE AND INFORMATION FROM DUNCAN HERE


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