If at first you don’t succeed…

Sourdough September summary: attempt at making wild bread with only white flour; it turns out that our Jane Mason wild starter is a picky eater, but at least it isn’t insisting on being gluten-free; it’s Sourdough September

Baking with sourdough is a life-long journey and every day is exciting, […] and once you make your starter you can keep it for life! – Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread

Soul Bread Company Humber Bayshores Farmers Market July 2019

The night after we finished the last of the Soul Bread Company bread (it was especially delicious when we sliced that last bit of the loaf, drizzled the slices with olive oil and grilled them on the barbecue), we built up our Jane Mason whole wheat starter to make bread the next day. Because while Man can’t live on bread alone, no bread at all sure does make living not so worthwhile.

We’ll go back to baking our own wild non-sour bread. It’s easily as good, if not better. And, considering that we get 10 kilograms of unbleached “no-additive” all-purpose flour for about $10, our bread is a fraction of the price of the Soul Bread Company sourdough bread [at $6.50 (!!) per loaf]. […] [But] next time we bake bread, at T’s request, I’m going to build up our Jane Mason wholewheat starter with all-purpose flour instead of 100% whole wheat flour. We suddenly want to learn what our wild bread is like if it is made with almost all white flour.
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | Virtually Photo-less Not Friday: Tasting Somebody Else’s Sourdough

On that night, I took the usual spoonful of the wholewheat starter and fed it with equal parts unbleached all-purpose flour and water.

The next morning, the white-coloured sludge in the bowl was bubbling, but not crazily. And it was really really really gluey and sticky. We checked for floating; it sank like a stone.

I stirred in more all-purpose flour and checked half an hour later. Sank like a stone.

Checked again half an hour later – some bubbles, really really really gluey. Sank like a stone.

What did I do wrong?!

On page 98 of her book “All You Knead is Bread”, Jane Mason does caution about using different kinds of grains in the starter, saying that it’s not desirable to “have a starter that is part wheat and part rye, or part rye and part spelt, because the grains perform differently and a mixed starter will make it difficult to follow recipes. But she doesn’t say anything about problems with feeding all-purpose wheat flour to a whole-wheat flour starter.

Am I crazy? All-purpose flour should work for feeding, shouldn’t it? Especially if it’s unbleached “no additives” flour….

Not willing to experiment further, we aborted, and squooged the sort-of-bubbling, oozing glop into the wet garbage destined for the city’s composting program. Because we have a horror of baking a doorstop. We’ve already done that. More than once….

Mercifully, I can’t quite remember when it was we last baked a loaf that looked like a discus. I do remember that one of the times, it was insanely sour and hard as a rock. With a lot of difficulty and too much elbow grease, we managed to saw through the discus and throw the chunks out in the garden for the birds and/or squirrels (without damaging or denting anything). The overly sour lumps stayed there, untouched, until we swept them up and hefted them into our backyard composter.

But I see that I did report about this other failure:

It appears that I’m about to make pucks again and it’s yet another opportunity to triumphantly announce a brilliant success dashed…
    My natural starter bread won’t rise. I was sure that it was active enough and that there were enough bubbles! The book (Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant) did say that it might take longer than 4 hours to rise after the final shaping. But she didn’t say anything about more than 24…
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | Rats…

The following night, I mixed whole wheat flour into the starter. T’s “all white” bread would have to have the leavener’s amount of whole wheat flour. (Not that I was all that upset. I far prefer bread that has at least some wholegrain flour in it.)

The resulting 9% whole-wheat loaf was delicious, as usual. I was secretly pleased (actually, it wasn’t that secret because I’m pretty sure I said it out loud several times) that the loaf didn’t have a dramatically higher loft than our usual 27% whole-wheat loaves. It wasn’t even that different from the 77% whole-wheat loaves we’ve made!

The negligible difference in loft means we can go back to putting more whole-grain flour into our bread. :-) :-)

Tartine Bread
Tartine Bread

The greatest reward was that the bread was easily as good as the expensive Soul Bread loaf. And not as sour. A win-win situation!

Yes indeed. Homemade wild bread really is the best!

It’s Sourdough September

This post is to “Encourage more people to bake genuine sourdough”.

Sourdough September

Wild thing, you make my loaf spring
Since 2013, the ninth month of the year is when the Real Bread Campaign goes on a mission to help everyone discover that: life’s sweeter with sourdough!
The aims of #SourdoughSeptember are to:
    ▪ Share the delicious delights of genuine sourdough
    ▪ Encourage more people to bake genuine sourdough
    ▪ Celebrate the small, independent bakeries that bake genuine sourdough
    ▪ Help people to say no to sourfaux and avoid paying a premium for something that simply isn’t the real deal
    ▪ Encourage people to join and/or donate to the Real Bread Campaign
Are you in? Great!
– Real Bread Campaign, Sustainweb.org | Sourdough September


The day after we discarded the white flour glop, I looked in the container to see if it had done anything at all. Not a chance. It was still lying there, looking exactly the same: sort-of-bubbling, oozing glop. Except there were some chicken bones and a few onion skins attached to it. And maybe it was a little grayer….

This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, food & drink, whine, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your responses and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed on this site, nor will it ever be shared.

"Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your response appears. Responses containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent attempts will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). For further information, please read the Discussion Policy.

Post a Response

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the optional fields that point to your website URL and website name may be removed without notice. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.