Sourdough is a mother

Oh, I hope you didn’t come here to learn something.

Before I begin my sorry sourdough tale, I should correct any illusion that this is a cooking/baking site. It’s a whatever-pops-into-my-head-this week site and for the last few weeks, it’s been popping with sourdough.

A few months ago, MrWI64 was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a byproduct, I suspect, of a wartime childhood and the luxury of sugar.

This news coincided with the arrival of a spontaneous gift from Daughter #1: a cookbook on plant-based dining that is likely the perfect diet for Type 2. Suffice to say, total conversion has not gone well.

But then I read about sourdough. In a new food reality in which carbohydrates are monitored, we learned that, for science-y reasons, sourdough has less impact on blood sugar than other breads. This came as welcome news at Chez WI64 and – surprise, surprise – I received two sourdough cookbooks for Christmas. (I was also given a meat grinding attachment for my mixer. You can see a theme here).

I know zip about sourdough except that it requires a mother or starter, so I dived into recipe book #1 intent on starting. The book said: mix one Tbsp. of flour with 1 Tbsp. of water. Do this every day for a week or so, removing some of what you started the day before, then get baking. Easy.

Book #2, said pretty much the same thing, but instead of starting  with 1 Tbsp. of flour it called for five pounds (!) and several cups of water.

Confusion ensued.

With Book #2 off the table what with all that daily feeding of the mother amounting to 20-plus pounds of flour just to get started, I proceeded with recipe #1 and tablespoon by tablespoon I mothered the mother to life.

Bread is possible when the mother is bubbly and smells slightly sour.

Mother – all bubbly and sour smelling.

This took about a week and then I made a loaf of bread that had the weight and consistency of a shot put. I fed it to seagulls and even they rejected  it.

By now determined, I turned to the web and embarked on what became a series of science experiments.

I didn’t see this tablespoon at a time nonsense getting me far, so I found a new recipe and started again. The results a week later were iffy.

I carried on, letting that starter age and the following week, batch #3 was slightly better, but really only edible around the edges.

Daughter #2 makes bread weekly and referred me to a recipe that has yet to fail her.

I followed it but forgot the salt and got to mucking in it when I should’ve given up. Failure #4.

I told a few friends about my attempts. They couldn’t have been less interested.

Back to Google and the discovery of a recipe titled Sourdough Bread, a Beginners Guide on The Clever Carrot, a site with an entire category devoted to sourdough.

So I started again. New mother, new measurements, new technique.

I followed the instructions, right down to baking my bread in a Dutch oven and Batch #6 was an almost success.

2018-03-01 11.24.21
Ready to bake.

Batch #7 was better and here, right out the oven today, is Batch #8.

Not perfect. But not a shot put, either.

Sourdough is a mother to get started. But now, with a couple edible loafs under my belt, I’m feeling quasi-successful  and to the relief of those around me, this may be the last you’ll hear about it.

Although I wouldn’t count on it.




18 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat Ardley says:

    Yes! This is an awesome description of trying to make sour dough bread. Hahahaha!!!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Pat. It really is a mother.


  2. Jean Screech says:

    I can’t wait to try yours but if you get tired of the mother I think Cobb”s makes a sourdough bread.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Your husband mentioned that option. I imagine Cobbs’ version lacks the determination. And angst.


  3. mistimaan says:

    Lovely post


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you. Appreciate that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pauline James Curtis says:

    Good on ya, Gery for your persistence. I’m surprised some very good Scotch didn’t make it onto the table and into the recipe after 7 very-patient tries!

    Shall we try to honour our birthdays later in the month or after Easter sometime?




    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Oooo…I forgot to mention the scotch. Thanks, P. And yes! Heading off island for the next 12-14….let’s see what we can arrange end of month/early April. Happy birthday to us.


  5. Sheila says:

    Thanks for the laugh out loud sourdough story! I always enjoy your writing very much.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      And thank YOU for the feedback. 😊


  6. rick stevens says:

    I drink buttermilk straight outta da carton.


  7. Daughter #1 says:

    Can I just point out that sourdough is, in fact, plant based.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      I guess it is, #1, but not entirely in the spirit of that particular book.


      1. Daughter #1 says:

        You could always cut swear words in to the top instead of just a cross.


      2. Gery Lemon says:

        I’m afraid of deflating it.


      3. Gery Lemon says:

        Certainly would better reflect my sourdough relationship.


  8. Scott McCloy says:

    Baking. Makes me want to reach for the whisky bottle before I start. I have a friend who is an accomplished amateur baker (he even had an authentic Italian bread oven installed in his back yard — looked like a crematorium) and he would go on with me about yeast and how alive it is and my eyes would glaze over immediately. So now, I appreciate his bread when he brings it and when I bake, don’t tell him about my failures or ask for advice because I don’t understand a word he’s telling me. So, Gery, kudos to you for hanging in there! Practice, on your part, clearly makes perfect!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      A long way from perfect, but thank you, Scott. I now have three mothers on the go . . . not much to distinguish them, except one more or less worked. I think you’re on to something. Whiskey and sourdough are not such strange kitchen fellows.


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