How I Maintain My Sourdough Starter

Take good note of the title of this post: How I Maintain My Sourdough Starter. Yes, this really is all about me. If you talk to ten people you’ll likely get ten different but perfectly good variations on starter maintenance. This is simply an account of what I do.

Norwich Sourdough batards

The reason I do it is because it works for me. I won’t say I know nothing of the science behind it, nor that the science doesn’t interest me. But mostly I do what I do because it works and I get bread I like from it. If what works for you is to feed your starter pencil shavings and sing “Uncle John’s Band” before adding it to your dough, by all means keep doing that.

I keep one starter. It is a white starter at 100% hydration, meaning that I always feed it with equal parts of white flour and water, by weight. My current starter is one I started from scratch a few months ago.

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Rustic Flax Seed-Currant Bread

Rustic Flax Seed-Currant Bread

Flax seed - currant bread slicesIf I’m being honest, I must say that neither flax seeds nor currants make my list of favorite taste sensations. So no one is more surprised than me that this rustic bread freckled with these prosaic little ingredients is nothing short of magnificent.

Nutty and light with an occasional hit of sweetness provided by the fruit, flax seed-currant bread is equally at home for breakfast with a drizzle of honey, sliced horizontally for hearty ham sandwich , or after dinner with fruit and cheese.

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Please Help Fight Hunger

I have no bread to share with you today. Instead I am asking you to share, because many people in this world don’t have enough bread.

According to the World Health Organization, 800,000,000 people worldwide suffer from hunger, and more than 6,000,000 children under the age of five die each year from malnutrition.

If you are as overwhelmed and appalled by those numbers as I am, please consider helping in one of the following ways:

  1. Donate directly to one of these charities (or one of your own choosing):
  2. Make a purchase from my store, or buy a product from by clicking on one of the links contained in many of my posts. I pledge to you that 100% of my commissions from these purchases will be donated to hunger-fighting charities.
  3. Visit The Hunger Site and click on the “Click Here to Give” button. This costs you nothing, and you can do it once a day. Donations are made by the sponsors whose ads you see when you click.

Thank you for helping fight hunger.

Cuisinart Brick Oven: It’s Hot


Cuisinart Brick Oven BRK-200

Meet my new best friend: the Cuisinart Brick Oven BRK-200. I rarely bake one loaf of bread at a time, so I wouldn’t have sprung for this if I didn’t have plenty of other items on its agenda, but this countertop oven happens to turn out a wonderful loaf. Read more of my thoughts on the oven in my review at Just Baking.

Sourdough baked in Cuisinart Brick Oven

Sourdough English Muffins

Wish I was an English muffin
‘Bout to make the most out of a toaster
– Simon and Garfunkel, “Punky’s Dilemma”

Sourdough English Muffins

If you want to make the most out of your toaster, lose the Thomas’ and grace it with these instead.

Inspired by several talented bakers at The Fresh Loaf who have produced various takes on the English muffin in recent months, I finally could stand it no longer, and had to try them for myself. I see why they have been so popular. The bang for the buck is tremendous; they could not be easier, yet the result is outstanding.

The recipe uses just the amount of starter I’m “discarding” from my evening feeding, so I don’t even have to have planned ahead to make them (always a bonus in my world). Ferment the sponge overnight, and it’s a simple affair in the morning to mix and cook them.

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One Bread, Two Ways (98.4% Whole Grain Seeded Sourdough)

Better 98.4% Whole Grain Loaf

Did you look at the title of this post and think you were going to get something along the lines of one of those glossy magazine articles on how to live fashionably on a budget by taking a single outfit from the office to the evening with the simple addition of a few well-chosen accessories? (You know, the ones where you start with one ridiculously-priced suit, replace the businesslike button-down blouse with a silk décolleté cami, add the diamond necklace, Fendi bag, and Blahnik stiletto slides, and you’re good to go? Bargain city.)

Sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t exactly that. It is the decidedly less glamorous story of how I made two breads with EXACTLY the same ingredients (no baker’s diamonds here), the first only so-so and the next a bit better, by paying closer attention and changing just a couple of things in my method.

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