Food / 03.04.2020

WFH diaries: Making your-own-sourdough starter is harder than you think

By Ellie Hughes
The start of Ellie's long and complicated relationship with a Kilner jar of gloop
Image: iStock

Disclaimer: this is not my sourdough. My sourdough is still glooping in its starter Kilner jar. A week in, I am too scared to take it to the next level. I just can’t face the disappointment if it doesn’t work out.

I can already see this is going to be a long and complicated relationship which requires a lot of investment on my behalf with, as yet, minimal signs of effort from my partner-to-be. I had a look at the gloopy jar before I started writing this in the hope of finding some inspiration. The starter had gone watery on the top, for the second time this week, which a bit of quick Googling had revealed is a sign that it needs feeding. What? Already? It’s first thing in the morning and I only fed it late yesterday. I have a teenage son, I don’t need something else in my life that needs constant feeding.

And yet. Our household, and me personally, run on routines. Not something I thought I’d say 20 years ago, but here we are – and there is no shortage of expert advice suggesting that routines are invaluable for getting through something like this. My pre-lockdown Saturday morning routine of picking up a freshly-made sourdough loaf, on the way home from my spin class, and devouring it afterwards (lightly toasted, slathered with peanut butter and enjoyed with a coffee that I’d made with particular care), was one of the small but lovely highlights of my week.

And yes, I’ve been idly thinking for years it would be nice to make my own bread (while giving myself the cop-out of not having enough time). And while – like any mother working full-time from home while managing a family – lockdown hasn’t quite opened up the hours of spare time we’ve been led to imagine, I do definitely have enough time for this.

So here we are. I bought a special basket thing for shaping it online and amazingly, it arrived in plenty of time. I’ve managed to find enough flour in my local shop (albeit the expensive artisan kind from our local London windmill – adding to my commitment levels). It’s Friday now so if I want that fresh loaf tomorrow I need to get on with it. It feels like an act of blind faith. How can this gluey stuff morph into delicious bread? Wish me luck.

Want some ideas on how to put homemade sourdough to use? Try these tasty mozzarella, mushroom and pesto sourdough toasties.

WFH diaries: Making your-own-sourdough starter is harder than you think
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WFH diaries: Making your-own-sourdough starter is harder than you think
With more time at home and her favourite bakery shut in lockdown, Healthy's editorial director Ellie is having a go at making her own sourdough starter
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Healthy magazine
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