Instructions for refreshing and maintaining your rye sour dough

by Jane Mason Sour Dough Maintenance

Welcome to the wonderful world of sour dough!  It takes a little bit of planning and the results are definately not instant, but they are worth while.  Most important:  please remember that it is virtually impossible to kill sour dough.  Follow the instructions, make sure take 50 grams (4 Tablespoons) of sour dough out of the refreshed batch to put in the fridge to use a t a later date, and happy baking!

When your name comes up on the list and you get sent your dough, you will receive about 4 tablespoons (50 grams) of rye sour dough in the post.  You can put this in the fridge and it wi ll live forever, just waiting for you to take it out of the fridge, “refresh it” and have enough to use and to save for the next time you want to bake.  If you leave this sour dough in the fridge until you are ready to use it you will not kill it.  I promise you.  It is impossible to kill it as long as it is in the fridge in between refreshments.

Given you should send the dough to the next person on the list within one week, please be prepared to refresh it within a few days so you can have enough for yourself (when you are read y to bake) and enough to send on.  Whenever you refresh the dough, it should be the consistency of quite thick porridge.  The reason I tell you that is because it is very difficult to appr oximate volume and weight measurements of flour.  Different types and grades of flour weigh completely different amounts.  1 cup of US standard rye flour weighs about 90 grams.  On the oth er hand, 1 cup of the dark rye flour that I use here in the UK  weighs 125 grams.  That is a big difference so you will have to go on the “sight” of the dough whenever you are baking sour dough – or any other bread for that matter.  In the main, sour dough bread dough is stickier than yeasted dough so when you knead it you are aiming to achieve a sticky do ugh – one that does come away from the work surface, but not completely cleanly.

To refresh your sour dough starter:

1.  scrape the sour dough out of its container and pop it in a bowl
2.  add 1 and 1/4 cups (150 grams) dark rye flour
3.  add 1 and 1/3 cups (300 grams) warm water
4.  stir and cover with cling film (or make this in a tupperware) and leave in a warm place for 12 hours

This should then transform itself into a gloopy, porridgy, elasticy,  bubbly mass of wonderfulness.  Ready to go!

Take 4 tablespoons (50 grams) out straight away and pop it in the fridge to use later.  Take 4 tablespoons out (50 grams) and pop it in a tupperware to send to the next person on the li st when a name comes up.  If there is no name, please keep this in the fridge.  You are ready to bake with the rest!

If you are going to bake a 100% rye bread you will need to use the refreshed starter pretty much straight away.  If you are going to mix the starter with wheat or spelt, you can use a s tarter that has been refreshed within 2-4 days.  Making an all rye loaf requires more sour dough than a mixed loaf so if you are making a mixed loaf, you may as well make several at a time .  They keep well and they freeze well.