Heavenly Homemade Sourdough – Day 16 NaBloPoMo 2015

At the beginning of 2015, I made one New Year’s resolution – to start making sourdough bread again. So, on the morning of January 1st, I found a clean pickle jar and some cheesecloth and got my starter set up. It took a few weeks to really get going and for the first month, I added decreasing amounts of commercial yeast to my loaves to make sure they were edible. Of course, there were a couple of “bricks”, it happens to all of us sometimes – but the toast from these loaves is still wonderfully tasty and filling – and the chickens got the rest.

My household aren’t big bread eaters, so on average I make one big loaf a week. The fresh bread is quite dense but moist and wonderful with hard cheese and salad, and after a day or two it makes the best toast ever! My favourite is the crust, still warm from the oven with just a little butter ❤

Sourdough Bread Oct 2015

I’ve played around with different shapes (I went through a round phase for a few months) and added different flours to create interesting flavours and textures, but the plant in the jar has stayed the same.

My plant has a name too, Wee Beastie. She sits in a very pretty jar on a shelf in the kitchen and as the weather is warming up now, she gets fed every day now. During the cooler months I only fed her every other day and it was still very happy. The big thing to remember is that every kitchen is different and there will be slight differences in the wild yeasts your Beastie will develop. Get to know your plant and what it likes!

Wee Beastie in her fluted jar

Wee Beastie in her fluted jar

Sourdough Starter


A clean large pickle jar    1 cup bread flour (white or wholemeal)    1 cup of filtered water   1 tab live yogurt (optional)


Day 1 Mix the flour and water together thoroughly in the jar with a wooden spoon. Add and mix in the yogurt if using it and scrape down the sides with a plastic spatula (I have a wooden spoon I only use for bread making). Sourdough doesn’t react well to metal, so bear this in mind before you start. Cover with a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band to keep insects and dust out and leave it out of direct sunlight in a warm spot in the kitchen.

Day 2 Add a half (up to 3/4) cup of flour and just under that of filtered water. You can use water straight out of the tap, but like any yeast, sourdough doesn’t work well with fluoride, so I recommend filtered or rain water. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, you should start to see a few bubbles in your Beastie.

Repeat Day 2 for three more days. By Day 5, your Beastie should be voluminous and a little frothy, with a pleasant, slightly sour tang. It’s time to make some bread!

Please Note: Don’t take any chances with this – if your plant is mouldy or smells “off” discard it and start again.

Wee Beastie - frothy and ready to become bread

Sourdough Bread  (Makes 1 large loaf)


2 cups of Sourdough Starter      2 cups of bread flour   2 teas bread improver      water, milk or yogurt    a little oil


In a clean, dry bowl add the flour and bread improver and mix well. Bread improver is mostly citric acid and helps wake up the gluten in flour, resulting in a much better textured crumb. Add 2 cups of Sourdough Starter and mix with a wooden spoon. At this stage, I feed Wee Beastie with flour and water and put her back on the kitchen shelf – she’s done her job 🙂 Depending on your dietary requirements/personal preference, add a couple of tablespoons of water, milk or yogurt and mix to bring the dough together. Roll the dough off the sides of the bowl and turn it out on to a floured board.

Knead it thoroughly for 5-10 minutes until the dough feels elastic and add a little more liquid if the dough feels too stiff. This element is something of an arcane art, it takes practice to know when the dough feels right and too much kneading can produce as heavy a loaf as too little!

Coat your hands liberally with olive oil and shape the loaf as you desire. Put it in the tin or tray you will bake it in, cover and leave it somewhere warm to prove. I have a hot water heater that’s perfect for this. With a new sourdough proving can take a few hours. Be patient with your loaf and remember, the longer you leave it the more pronounced the sour taste will be. I usually wait until it’s doubled in size.

Bake in a pre-heated oven on the middle shelf for 10 minutes at 210 C, then reduce to approximately 180 C and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Again, every oven is different and I recommend using a pizza stone when you heat the oven up, it makes a lovely bottom crust!

White Sourdough fresh out the oven

White Sourdough fresh out the oven

What’s your favourite bread recipe? Please leave a comment below and happy breadmaking! 



The Busy-ness of Spring – Upcoming Shows

Chestnut Tree Spring Oct 2015

Hello friends,

I love spring. The cycle of the seasons visibly turns and every day brings new things in the garden, the chickens are laying more eggs than we can keep up with, and here in Hobart we’re coming out of the hibernation of winter and starting to go out again.

Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Fool

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Wee Beastie Sourdough

Wee Beastie Sourdough


And I’ve been busy! In the kitchen I’ve been making Vanilla Ice Cream and Baked Coffee Cheesecake with the excess eggs, brewing and bottling cider, making Rhubarb Fool from the mass of spring rhubarb and my weekly “Wee Beastie” Sourdough. It’s been absolutely wonderful to eat so well, with so much produce coming directly out of the garden.

The garden is always a work in progress but I’ve started planting out climbing beans this week, there’s basil in the Seeds and Basil Seedlings Oct 2015greenhouse and too many vegetable seedlings coming on to mention.

And there’s music happening too! I’m in the middle of a unit in Creative Writing for my second major through Griffith University. For my final assessment I’m planning to write a portfolio of new pieces that will become new songs. Depending how it goes, perhaps the core of another album.

Meanwhile, there’s gigs coming up too.

This Sunday at The Brunswick Hotel in Hobart, I’m playing a short set out in The Yard (the beer garden) with a bunch of other local musicians, including the incredibly talented Cassie O’Keefe and my friend Matt Dean. Very pleased also that this is a family friendly show, so feel free to bring your young music-lovers 🙂

Thursday 19th November, I’m sharing a night with Cassie at The Homestead in Elizabeth Street, one of my favourite places to go and hang out with friends. No idea what’s going to happen that one – we might even work out some songs to play together!

Friday 20th November, I’ll be doing the early spot at The Globe Hotel in Davey Street. If you haven’t caught this weekly event yet, I really recommend it. It’s organised by Kevin Gleeson who basically loves all kinds of music and is good friends with so many of us. It’s a great excuse to hang out and have a good time with mates.

And there’s more on the horizon! If you want to keep up to date with my shenanigans, hook up with me on Facebook here.

Yep, it’s spring and it’s busy – just how I like it.

Wherever you are, be well friends ❤