Starter from a Professional Baker

This weekend I volunteered to help with a Central Market cooking class. They brought in a local baker, Gwin Grimes, from Artisan Bread Co. in Fort Worth to talk about bread. She shared some great bread tips with us.

The first time she sold bread, she sold out. When she was driving home she remembered that she hadn’t tried any of the bread! whoops. They next week she came back to the Farmer’s Market and a line of people were waiting at her stall to buy bread.

Her most important tip: Don’t tear into bread when it’s straight out of the oven, no matter how good it smells. In needs to cool completely to develop flavor. She likened it to chili. It’s always better the second day when you reheat it. The bread will actually develop a crust and dry out where you cut into it straight out of the oven.

She made her starter from organic plums. The plums had a white residue on the outside which is actually yeast. She buried the plums in flour for a couple of days and then took the plums out and mixed in an equal amount of water to flour. She stuck the container under a bench, forgot about it, then came in the next day and it had overflowed all over the floor.  

It’s fun watching bread bakers talk about their starters because they are so passionate about it! She talked about “feeding” it almost every day with equal parts flour and water. 

There are many things you can make a starter from – grapes or organic raisins work great. Just look for the white residue. If you don’t plan on using the starter on a regular basis, you can put it in the fridge or freezer and it will go into a dormant state. You can easily bring it back to life with an addition of equal amounts flour and water. The starter will last forever but if you ever see pink or purple in it, throw it out immediately.
Pioneers during the gold rush actually brought starter with them in a small knapsack at their side. They would use it to make bread and would drink the alcohol that would form on the top for a little pick me up.
Starter adds a huge amount of flavor to the flour, water, yeast, and salt mixture that makes up bread. I actually got to take some of hers home!
I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I left it in its container overnight. With the lid closed tight.
Whoops… It’s alive!
For using the starter she simply said “just add a glug of it to whatever bread you are making to add flavor.” The recipe will remain the same in all other aspects. You might need to add a little extra flour to get it to the right consistency.

I can’t wait to start using this when I make bread!

Pretty cool stuff! Do y’all have starters at home?

8 thoughts on “Starter from a Professional Baker”

  • I've been thinking about making a starter for quite a while. I just need to get up and do it! Lucky you to have some of the original. Enjoy baking with it.

  • I haven't put together a sourdough starter for years! I'm thinking now would be a good time!

  • I've been wanting to try making starter for years, but have always been too intimidated by it. Maybe I'll get the gumption to do it one of these day!

  • That sounds like a fun class! My fiance keeps a starter and you're totally right- they get very passionate about it and he feeds it every day, spending a little time each evening making sure everything is going well ha

  • I had a starter back in America, but I got busy and stopped making bread. I let it ferment for too long and my entire house smelt of alcohol. Real class. Haha! I love sourdough, though! I tried to explain it to my host family here in France, they just gave me weird and disgusted looks. This coming from the people who feel WIFI…

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