And we have a new pet…

go directly to the recipe

:stomp: :stomp: :stomp:

summary: recipe for Natural Starter based on instruction in “All You Knead is Bread” by Jane Mason; I’m a glutton for punishment; we have a new pet; celebrating with blueberry scones

Are we really going to do this? Again….

black cat

A while back, we read Michael Pollan’s brilliant book Cooked and cannot stop thinking about the sections on fermentation.

As a means of processing a raw foodstuff, a sourdough fermentation is a wonder of nature and culture, an example of an ancient vernacular “technology” the ingenuity of which science is just now coming to appreciate. “You could not survive on wheat flour,” Bruce German, the food chemist at UC Davis, told me, “but you can survive on bread.” The reason you can is largely due to the work of these microbes going about their unseen lives. And though modern food science can simulate many of their effects in commercial bread production, by using commercial yeasts and other leavening agents, sweeteners, preservatives, and dough conditioners, it still can’t do everything a sourdough culture can do to render grass seeds nourishing to humans.
Sourdough fermentation also partially breaks down gluten, making it easier to digest and, according to some recent research from Italy (a nation of wheat eaters with high rates of celiac disease and gluten intolerance), destroying at least some of the peptides thought to be responsible for gluten intolerance. Some researchers attribute the increase in gluten intolerance and celiac disease to the fact that modern breads no longer receive a lengthy fermentation.
– Michael Pollan, Cooked, p202-203

But as excited as we were about it, I couldn’t quite bring myself to introduce another pet into the kitchen. Until I read Jane Mason’s cookbook, “All You Knead is Bread”….

What really attracted me to her method for capturing yeasts from the air was that it all looks so straightforward. Her natural starter looks so simple to create and maintain. She didn’t say to throw anything away – unless it had gone bad. I love that – no more tossing all that expensive flour down the drain!

And. According to Jane, it takes just 5 days.

It’s beautifully warm in the kitchen right now so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to set out yeast traps again.

Here’s how things went:

Capturing Yeast using the Jane Mason Method diary:

Sourdough Day1 Day 1, 13:00 25C in the kitchen (outdoors 27C)

Making your own WHEAT sourdough starter
Day One

Mix 50g/6 tablespoons white or wholemeal/wholewheat flour and 50g/3 1/2 tablespoons water together in a big bowl. cover and leave on the counter for 24 hours.
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p89

Well, that was a breeze. It sure doesn’t take long to mix 50gm whole wheat flour into 50gm of water!

Sourdough starter: Day 2 Day 2, 14:30 No bubbles yet… and of course! The warm weather was whisked away in the middle of the night. Instead of yesterday’s 25C (or so) in the kitchen, it is now 20C in kitchen (outdoors 17C) – significantly cooler….

Eeek! Are we destined to have a sour and disagreeable pet?

Day Two
Add 50g/6 tablespoons white or wholemeal/wholewheat flour and 50g/3 1/2 tablespoons warm water to mix. Stir and cover. Leave for 24 hours.
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p93

Oops! Already I’ve strayed; I’m an hour and a half late! Or, perhaps it’s just that I’m not so good at arithmetic.

Day 3, 13:00 Cool again today but a little warmer than yesterday. And…

Sourdough Starter Day 3 Bubbles!! And it’s only day 3! This is just before mixing in Day3’s refresher of 100% whole wheat flour (no additives) and water. There was a tiny hint of stinky cheese smell so I’m guessing these bubbles are lactobacilli – not bad, but not the kind for making bread.

Sourdough starter Day 3

Day 4, 09:10 Sunny and warm. And. There were lots of bubbles in the morning (no photo; I forgot). I have to be out of town at pet-feeding time, so I measured the flour and left it out for T.

Day 5, 12:36 Overcast and warm.

Day Five
You starter should be bubbly. Congratulations! If your starter is not bubbly by the morning of Day Five, don’t add any more flour, just cover it and let it sit for another 24 hours. If nothing has happened by then, your house could be too clean. Seriously! Stop using bleach or other antiseptic sprays on every surface. Revert to hot, soapy water to clean surfaces. You need germs and so does your sourdough!
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p95

Sourdough Starter Day5

Whoa!! There are bubbles galore.

Ha! OUR house isn’t too clean. Seriously! :-) :-)

I’m so excited!! We have a new pet! A pet that isn’t finicky. And we’re ready for the next step in the experiment to see if our house will produce NOT-sour sourdough bread!

Natural Wheat Starter in 5 Days
(100% hydration)

based on a recipe in “All You Knead is Bread” by Jane Mason

Day 1

  • 50gm 100% whole wheat (no additives) flour
  • 50gm body temperature water

Mix together. Cover with a plate and leave on the counter (or if it’s winter in the oven with only the light on) for 24 hours.

Day 2

  • 50gm 100% whole wheat (no additives) flour
  • 50gm body temperature water

Mix together. Cover with a plate and leave on the counter (or if it’s winter in the oven with only the light on) for 24 hours.

Day 3, 4
On each day, repeat Day 2 instructions

Day 5
There should now be lots of bubbles. If not, Mason says to “just cover it and let it sit for another 24 hours”. When there are lots of bubbles, it’s time to feed/refresh the mixture….

:: Flours: Wheat vs Rye In all the other wild starters I’ve made, I started with rye flour. But here’s what Jane Mason says about that (and it seems to make a lot of sense):
You don’t want 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. That should not deter you from experimenting, but you may want some ‘pure’ starter as well to make your life a little easier (although possibly less fun).
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p98


So, now that we had a bowl of bubbles, I decided to throw caution to the wind and take the next step to making bread.

To make bread
Day One: refreshing the starter
90g/3oz wheat sourdough starter from the fridge
90g/2/3 cup wheat flour (white, wholemeal/whole-wheat or a mixture)
90g/1/3 cup water
Mix these ingredients together to refresh your wheat sourdough starter. Cover and leave on the counter for 8-12 hours.
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p95

And because I’m so confident that this will work, I mixed 180gm of the brand new starter with 180gm unbleached all-purpose (no additives) flour and 180gm body temperature water.

Making Sourdough Bread: Day 1

The rest of the sludge went into a jar. A Mason jar. Of course.

Sourdough Starter

Last summer was the summer of the scone, maybe this summer will be the summer of NOT-sour Sourdough!

blueberry scones To celebrate, we sat on the front porch and had blueberry scones and coffee.

Life just doesn’t get much better than that….




Tartine Bread Success edit: Here is the recipe for our now standard bread, based on the recipe for ‘Basic Country Bread’ in Chad Robertson’s book “Tartine Bread”. Jane Mason’s starter works brilliantly in it:

Tartine Bread edit: We have revised the recipe to make it easier for us AND to make it taste even better. It is still based on the recipe for ‘Basic Country Bread’ in Chad Robertson’s book “Tartine Bread”, and Jane Mason’s starter continues to work brilliantly:




This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, cookbooks, etc., food & drink, posts with recipes, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

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