The Secret Life of Celia, my Sourdough Starter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACelia is the name of my sourdough starter. She is the daughter of Priscilla, the sourdough starter sent to me by Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Some readers may already know the real Celia, baker extraordinaire and all round generous and inspiring woman. Her online tutorials are easy to follow, thorough and are well supported with photos at every stage of the process. In fact there are around 367 bread making related posts on her site, as well as further information on bread making supplies and equipment. This, I believe, is a far better guide than any bread making book and a wonderful thing.

The following post is a test case diary of my first sourdough loaf.  If you wish to make sourdough bread too, just head straight to Celia’s instructive post here .

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Celia , my starter, behaved as expected, just as her mother would have predicted. I began rehydrating her at 7.00 AM and, as instructed, added doses of flour and water at various times throughout the first day and evening.  On the second morning, she was alive, thick
and bubbly.  Hooray. After incorporating the remaining bread ingredients and a pause of half an hour, the dough was very easy to knead. Then off she went to happily sit in a winter sunny spot on my ‘proving’ high chair.

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Hand made Australian high chair becomes a proving station.
Hand made Australian high chair becomes a proving station.

The dough proved for around four hours (winter in a warm room) and then looked ready to rock and roll. The second proving was a little harder to judge.

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The loaf was slashed, spritzed and baked as instructed. It came out looking great and once cool,  we hoovered a few slices with plain butter. It smelt and tasted very good.

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I may have erred somewhere as it sounded quite drum like when first removed, but the base sounded a little softer on cooling, yet it didn’t really affect the flavour or texture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACost per loaf, around $ 1.20 (500 g flour = 50cents/ salt and olive oil/ 20cents/ oven running cost of fan forced 90 cm wide oven at full heat, then reduced,  per hour- around 50 cents)

Cost for a quality sourdough loaf retail – around $7.00. The cost would reduce to 95 cents per loaf, if two were made at once, as well as saving power. Next time I will make two and freeze the spare.

Thanks to Celia, the mentor who inspired this post. Just click on Bread at the top of her home page to find out more.

http://figjamandlimecordial.com/

23 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Celia, my Sourdough Starter.”

  1. Beautiful stuff Francesca. Real bread is amazing stuff isn’t it…and Celia is such an inspiration. I adore your bread proving high chair, I think I need one. I baked 6 loaves today and spent the afternoon moving them around into various sunny positions! Happy baking.

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  2. Your bread looks amazing. Don’t you just love Celia’s bread tutorials? I’ve been making lovely sourdough all summer and bake using one of Celia’s techniques with a cast iron pot. I even named my starters like Celia does – Vaso the white bread starter and Sven the rye starter. You are absolutely right – the loaves are crunchier when they first come out of the oven and slightly softer when cooled, but still tasty.

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  3. Hooray! Thank you so much for the kind words, Francesca! I’m so happy Celia has worked so well for you (can’t tell you how chuffed I am with the name!! :)). The basic sourdough tutorial that I wrote makes a soft, closed crumb loaf – it’s not really the sort of bread I usually bake, but it’s much harder to work a very liquid dough, so I wrote the recipe using a drier (lower hydration) one. The crust will almost always soften a bit on cooling. I figured everyone who starts sourdough baking needs a “proof of concept” first loaf – once you know that it actually works, you’ll be off and running! 🙂

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    1. Hahha, Louise my dearest, it is really easy if you follow Celia’s guide. But one day when you are ready, I can siphon off a bit of ‘Celia’ the starter for you. If I do, you will need to give it a name. Please remind me to do this when you are ready. You will be surprised how easy and fulfilling it is.

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    1. I do recommend Celia’s blog as a beginning point. I think I expected great sourdough open texture from my first loaf too. Its a great starting point if it tasted great. With your cheese making, you could get some wild yeasts happening.

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  4. I thought I could smell your loaf really clearly then I realised it is actually the loaf of sourdough bread I have in the oven. I am still learning after a year of my sourdough starter but it is a grand and exciting and delicious learning curve. Your slashes look great (something still don’t do well because I am told my blades aren’t sharp enough). The crumb looks lovely too. I am finding it so cold this winter that my loaves aren’t rising well but I am too impatient to give them another day which I think some of them would benefit from. And I made sourdough pizza last week and loved it too. I also highly recommend sourdough flatbreads for a really quick and yummy use of sourdough. Am sure you will be learning and loving lots about sourdough.

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    1. Must try a sourdough pizza too.I made two wholemeal loaves that spent all Sunday rising. They were ready by 1pm, but as I had guests, I punched it down and recovered it. It was ready again by 5pm- in fact, far too puffed up- and then zI re-shaped them. They had another long rise on the bench before they went into the oven lateish. Surprisingly, They are very good.

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