New here, and first time posting.

Hi, I'm in Montreal Canada, and just joined your site a couple of days ago.  I'm new to sourdough, but have a beautiful starter sitting in my fridge.  It's made with buttermilk and some commercial yeast, so it probably isn't as "pure" as the ones I've seen mentioned here. Though it does smell lovely and sour, it produces a soft white bread, and I've already made cinnamon buns with it.  Over the weekend, I'm going to try using it for some whole wheat bread.  I'm curious about your interest in spelt.  Is it the taste?  I was given a bag once a couple of years ago, but threw it out after reading that it is very difficult to work with, and I didn't really know anything about it at all.  I have tried other starters, with and without commercial yeast, but my current one is so healthy and lively, I'm sure I could use it for other breads, and I've yet to try it solo, without added yeast in the final dough.

This is a fascinating site, and I do enjoy reading all your posts.  Thanks.
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TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 April 11
You've come to the best place in the world to talk about sourdough bread.  Your starter sounds great, and whilst (as you probably know) it technically isn't sourdough as such, I'm sure it produces some great results for you.  I'm interested that you've tried using a starter without commercial yeast but didn't like it ?  Did it not work well ? I haven't met a starter which didn't thrive with some TLC. The breads you'll get from a true sourdough starter are quite different to ones based on commercial yeast, and if you add yeast to your bread, it's quite a different result again.  Most of us here have started our own starters (not me, though...mine's from JackLang and DanLepard), or bought them from people like Teresa

As for the interest in spelt, personally (and I can say I'm not the only one in the forum), flours excite me, especially one with nutritional benefits like spelt. Moreover, it doesn't taste half bad. Why don't you jump into the bake-off?

Please do explore the sourdough maze...lots of info at every turn and corner. Really look forward to chatting more with you on the forum, and welcome again !

celia's picture
celia 2008 April 11 Irishman in Canada, by any chance ? :) Nice to see you here.

Agree with TP about the sourdough starters - I tried to start my own, and managed to only grow mould.  So I ended up buying from Northwest Sourdough (Teresa's link above), and can't tell you how happy I am with the starters she sent me.  She sent them here to AUSTRALIA from the US, and they came straight through quarantine without any problems.   I bake both sorts of breads - sourdough and yeast based.  Most of my bread is sourdough based, but I still use yeast for some sweet breads and pizza doughs.  And when I'm just plain short on time !

I'd really encourage you to try the sourdough starters again, Paddy - as TP says, you won't be disappointed. 

Cheers, Celia

PaddyL 2008 April 12
I was born in Canada to an Irish mother and a very Canadian father.  I am going to try another starter without yeast, but the last one just sat there, even after each feeding, with little bubbles on top but it never grew.  Still, I won't give up, and I'm now thinking of trying spelt in a bread.  I'm curious about my current starter, though made with commercial yeast and buttermilk, it now smells like a regular sourdough starter, and when I refresh it once a week it's with more buttermilk and flour, it then sits overnight, and the next morning I take two cups out and continue with my bread.  The rest goes back into the fridge to bubble and grow for another week.  Why, after a month or so, is this not considered a real sourdough starter?  What I really liked about this starter was not having to throw any out each time it was refreshed.
celia's picture
celia 2008 April 12

We need another female voice here, Paddy !  :)

Re the question of why it's not considered a real sourdough starter - I'm sure the others will be able to answer that better than me.  Though I think it's something to do with the yeasts never changing from being bakers yeast ?

I have two suggestions to offer - firstly, don't bother trying to start a sourdough starter from scratch. ( I have to duck for cover here?).  I couldn't make it work either, and I tried twice, and was quite disheartened.  Do what I did, and pay someone like Northwest Sourdough the $9 to ship you some from the US.  Better still, order three different ones for the same shipping, and you can try them all out and see which one you like.

I recommend the SF starter and the NW starter - both started within a couple of days for me, and have been alive for a year and a half now.  I don't throw any starter out at all now - like you, it drove me crazy to have to chuck stuff out.  What I do is this - I keep a little of both in the fridge.  Once a week, I feed one of them (in the container) with 1/4 c bakers flour and 1/4 c water, and put it straight back in the fridge.  I tip half of the other one into a large bowl, and then feed the other half (in the container) the same as the first one, and put it straight back in the fridge.  The starter in the bowl I feed up to use for the next day's bake.  The next week I alternate starters, so I never have to throw any out. The starters are so resilient that I've left them untouched for more than 2 weeks in the fridge, and they've still come back fine.  I'm sure you could actually leave them longer, I've just never needed to.

My second suggestion is - if you're happy with your current starter, why not keep it running at the same time, while trying sourdough ones ?  Then you can compare the results and see the difference in the resulting bread.  You'll need to keep them all very tightly sealed though, as I think bakers yeast is very dominant, and could take over if it gets in (someone correct me if I'm wrong here, please).

One final thing - if you do decide to try a sourdough starter, please be prepared for much longer proving times.  As I said, I bake with both yeast and sourdough, and whereas a yeasted dough can go from start to finish in two hours, a sourdough one (for me) takes between 8 to 12 hours.  But the long rising time gives it some amazing character..

Again, it's so nice to have another baxter here, Paddy !  Look forward to hearing more from you..

Cheers, Celia
Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 April 12

Aloha, aye! Paddy, nice to see another Canadian, especially from my favorite ville =Montreal!
Have you been to the bakery Olivo Gourmando, great prune hazelnut bread with bluette jam!

PaddyL 2008 April 12
Hi Jeremy, no I haven't been to Olivo Gourmando, but I have every intention of making my own bleuet jam this summer with wild Saguenay blueberries, along with any other tasty jam that I would like to see adorning my bread.

I think the problem I have with yeast-less sourdough starters, besides hating to have to pitch some out, is the temperature.  We live in an upper duplex and have no control over the thermostat, so it's either too hot or too cold during the winter.  I'm thinking maybe I'll try another flour/water starter when it warms up a bit, and stays warm, something the weather gods have yet to sort out.  But I am going to try.

I do like this site, lots of very friendly people, and lots of good info. 

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