People always ask you what your last meal would be. I always say bread and butter. There is nothing quite like a warm, crusty loaf of bread with a healthy slab of salted butter that still has a chill from the fridge.
I’ve picked up tips and tricks along the way from various bakeries I’ve worked in—like how to shape the bread, and which temperatures are best—but nothing has taught me more about bread than Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread.
Robertson breaks down the process of making real bread whether you are a home baker or a restaurateur. I’ve adapted his process of using my own starter, left to ferment and feed on the bacteria in the flour, air and your hands. It eliminates the need for any store bought yeast.
I’ll admit it is time consuming, but extremely easy and certainly rewarding. It’s like having a little pet on your counter that you feed every day!
Although I highly recommend just buying the book, here’s how to make your own:
- Find yourself a large bowl or mason jar to keep on your counter top. Fill it with a blend of half white flour and half whole wheat. This will be your “food”.
- Second, grab a small jar and fill 1/4 way with lukewarm water. Add enough flour to make a paste.
- Cover with a cloth and set aside for a few days (even up to a week) until you see small bubbles and it smells like its fermenting.
Once this is the case you can start feeding it on a regular basis.
- Discard 3/4 of the starter and add more water (approx. 1/4 cup) and more of your flour mixture (about a 1/3 cup), making a paste like before. You can now start using a tight fitting lid and feeding every day, watching the patterns it goes through as it bubbles up and falls. Always wait until it has fallen before feeding again.
Once established, if you miss a day or two or three of feeding, don’t worry, typically starters are very forgiving.
I’ve had several fails with new starters (RIP Martha, Betty, Diana). Then Lucille came into my life. Don’t get discouraged, and if you do, there’s no shame in asking a friend for some of theirs to get you going!