You can make your own starter, using equal parts of strong bread flour and cold water. Initially 1 tablespoon of each. Stir into a paste and leave overnight to start the fermentation process. On day 2 and 3 ‘feed’ your starter with equal parts breadhflour and cold water. On day 4, you’ll need to pour your starter into an airtight container and give it another feed before storing in the fridge.
If you’ve been at the Yeo Valley canteen and got some of our starter to take home, place the starter into a larger container and “feed” it with 2 large tablespoons of strong bread flour and enough cold water to keep it at the same consistency in your container.
After one day, re feed it again and then on day three, you will have a sufficient amount of starter to get making the wonderful bread that you would have tasted at lunch in the canteen.
Once you have found the best timings to suit your schedule, it will become second nature and not require a great deal of thinking about to make a sourdough loaf with your starter from Yeo Valley HQ kitchen.
NB when baking your loaf, you always need to place a metal tray in the bottom of your oven. This needs to be a tray that you are not particularly attached to as over time it will look like it is covered in chalky residue and will not clean that well. I personally keep mine in the oven at all times and ensure that it is piping hot before placing your loaf in
Your loaf needs to be cooked on the oven’s highest setting at 230°c
Turn out your loaf onto a lightly floured tray, place into the oven to cook, stand back a little and immediately throw a cup of cold water onto the hot tray and close the oven door quickly, this will produce the steam that will give your loaf a good crust. If you do not do this, your loaf will look anaemic when it is finished and not have a nice crust.
Here at Yeo Valley we make our sourdough at 8am and allow it to prove for most of the day until approximately 5pm whereupon we knock it back and place it into the Bannetons to prove overnight. We then bake it at 7.30am the following morning. If you do not have a Banneton, simply line a bowl with a clean tea towel and lightly flour it, place your knocked back loaf into this to prove for the second time.
When at home I make it at teatime each evening and leave it to prove overnight in the bowl I made it in covered with Clingfilm. Then at about 7am I knock it back and place it into the Banneton. I then leave it in the kitchen to prove for 3-4 hours and then cook it. Be aware that in the summer months this process could potentially be quicker if the house is a little warmer.
Each time you make a loaf of bread, you need to take out some of the starter from the container in your fridge. To ensure your starter is kept alive you need to “feed” it with fresh white bread flour.
I would recommend that every time you take out 75 g of starter from your container you add back in 2 large tbsps of bread flour and enough water to get it back to the same consistency. This will ensure your starter is in the best of health.
If you go away for any length of time, on your return you may find it has a layer of black liquid. Simply pour this off and throw away ⅓ of the contents, ‘re-feed’ it and put back in the fridge. It should come back to life