Last year I spotted this recipe for blackberry sourdough scones. I never got round to making them, but at the time I investigated what was needed for a sourdough starter as both myself and Mr Birdie enjoy eating sourdough bread. I’m also keen to try Paul Hollywood’s raspberry and white chocolate bread which needs sourdough starter as part of the recipe. I decided that it was time to give it a go. If you look on the Internet there are lots of recipes for different starters using all sorts of different things like grapes and apples. I opted for this recipe from the BBC as it looked fairly simple. I have to say on day 5 I was worried that nothing was going to happen as my mixture looked like it wasn’t going to do anything but I persevered and as if by magic I was suddenly rewarded with a bubbling mixture. I’ve used it to make a classic sourdough and it worked so I must have done something right. It’s now sat it my fridge and I’m feeding it every five days. I plan to try out a few more sourdough recipes over the next few weeks.

I used a Kilner style jar from IKEA to make my starter in. I sterilised it beforehand using this handy guide from the BBC.

75ml (5 tablespoons) fresh, live, full-fat, plain yoghurt
215ml skimmed milk (175ml on day 1, 40ml on day 4)
450g strong white flour (120g on day 2, 180g on day 4 and 150g on day 5)
250ml water (100ml on day 4, 150ml on day 5)

Day 1
On day one, heat the milk in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Place the yoghurt into a bowl or container and stir in the warmed milk. Cover and leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours until thickened. Stir in any liquids that may have separated.

Day 2
On day two, stir the flour (120g) into the yoghurt, incorporating evenly. Cover and leave at room temperature (about 20C) for two days. The mixture should be full of bubbles and smell pleasantly sour.


Day 4
On day four, add the flour to the starter with the water and the milk. Cover and leave at warm room temperature for 12-24 hours.

Day 5
On day five the starter should be quite active now and be full of little bubbles. Remove half of the starter and discard. Add the flour and the water to the remaining starter and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave at warm room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 6
On day six the starter should be ready to use. You can keep the starter at room temperature, but you will need to feed it daily. Combine equal parts of the starter, water and flour and mix thoroughly. You may have to discard some of the starter so that you do not end up with too much. Keep covered and use as needed.

If baking less often keep the starter covered in the fridge, feeding it once every five days or so by mixing equal parts of starter, flour and water. You can freeze some of your starter too, as a back-up in case you need to start again.

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