Say hello to Corinna

She’s a bubbly blonde.

OK, she’s a sourdough starter, but she’s definitely got personality. She’s also the second of that name, Corinna #1 having been stored as dehydrated flakes too long before being reconstituted. I started Corinna #2 a week ago, with rye flour and filtered water in carefully measured proportions and left her to get to work in a cloth-covered glass jar. Why rye? Wholemeal, rye, spelt or other whole grain flours give your starter a better, well, start. After that initial boost, you feed her with ordinary plain/all-purpose flour (not bread flour) until she’s double her original size, very bubbly and ready to get to work.

Why Corinna you ask? (And even if you don’t, you’re going to be told, so there). I am a huge fan of Kerry Greenwood’s Earthly Delights series of books, about Corinna Chapman, bread baker extraordinaire and occasional sleuth, based in Melbourne. She is a woman of creative talent, dedication, compassion and comfortable build, and keeps a bucket of ‘mother of bread’ starter in her bakery, and I hope my (much blonder) Corinna is worthy of her example.

There are endless blogs out there on sourdough and how to make it, so that’s not happening here. Others have vastly more experience, better written posts and gorgeous photography. Here’s my favourite: Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial has made the most amazing bread-baking resource available to us lesser mortals, and has enabled me to bypass some of the more common problems by taking her advice and following her recipes. She is a sourdough goddess!

Look what Corinna and I made today:

It’s leftover starter, flour, water, honey and salt. Alchemy! Or focaccia, as the rest of you know it, baked into a pizza base. I wanted to test how lively the starter was, and focaccia is quick and simple. And clearly, Corinna is more than ready for duty; the dough texture was perfect, and it was yummy and chewy except for the crispy outer crust, which was perfect and didn’t lacerate your mouth. There’s enough for dinner for us both, and lunch for us both tomorrow. Next step is a nice basic white loaf…

Now, out of my way! Fresh hot pizza calling!

48 thoughts on “Say hello to Corinna

  1. I’ve become a real fan of sourdough this year. I started mine back in February and have had great success… so much so that we are hardly using any bought yeast now (I just have some in stock in case of some sourdough disaster). I have found that feeding mine with a mix of white and atta flours makes for a very happy culture. What I haven’t done is named it… hmmm….

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m told that naming your starter is traditional… I’ve been procrastinating forever about starting up again, to the point that when I finally did, the dear departed Corinna #1 was stone dead. And really, it’s not hard to get a starter going, especially in this climate, which is so favourable to fermentation. Tonight was Corinna’s final divide and feed before she becomes a permanent fixture, and she was so lively I simply had to use some of what I’d otherwise discard, so there’s another loaf autolysing on the bench right now!

      • I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed working with and eating sourdough… plus it’s so much more easily digestible. I will ask Mr Snail what he thinks we should name the starter.

      • katechiconi says:

        Yes, it doesn’t affect my insides like yeasted bread, and I love how lively but forgiving it is. As for naming, how about Jen, in the family tradition of only changing the vowel sound…?

  2. tialys says:

    We started a starter called Martin (long story) a few years ago but didn’t really have much luck with it doing the things a starter should do. Maybe we’ll try again once things have settled down because I do like the idea of it all.

    • katechiconi says:

      The whole process was remarkably fuss-free from my point of view, and Corinna is a very lively girl. I have to say, that focaccia pizza base was spectacularly yummy. I like how slow and easy going the process is; you just need to get ready well in advance, but there’s no split second timing to anything.

  3. That looks AMAZING 🤩🤩
    I’m a new born at sourdough.. oh but how I’m loving it …
    it’s Indian feast today as it’s Amanda’s birthday … but will be back to “bread” tomorrow 💝

    • katechiconi says:

      I wonder what sourdough naan would be like…
      I’d quite happily have eaten it as focaccia, with maybe a bit of Camembert, slices of apple and some smashed avocado, but I’d promised pizza. Never mind, leftovers are always good!

  4. Ok I am sold. I have planned on making my own sourdough starter and been putting it off. I will get it going today. Looks so yummy

  5. nanacathy2 says:

    Oh my days that looks tasty. I am the only person on the planet who doesn’t adore sour dough. Well someone has to not like it, but I get your enthusiasm. I love a nice granary bread and since I can’t seem to buy it nymore I may have to make my own….

  6. My sourdough starter Vern says hello to his cousin Corinna!

  7. Impressed! The focaccia looks amazing. I am carb-free at the moment, so very glad I don’t get to smell your creation – my willpower would evaporate…

  8. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Loved the Corinna Chapman books and do wish she’d write more! Understand your love of sourdough as I had one back in the mists of time and might consider doing it again as I love the taste. Too hot & humid down here for me to do more than my bread machine whole wheat (hovis) though. If ever you have an inclination, you might look at King Arthur Baking dot com — a New England point of view. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m pretty sure she has it planned. I really enjoyed No. 7, The Spotted Dog, and it seems to me that she’d introduced some potential new directions for new stories. I do hear you about hot and humid, and I wonder myself if I’ll be able to bear baking once summer is upon us properly. Living in the tropics does make adding heat a bit bonkers, although the humidity will be good for Corinna. Just now, it’s spring Down Under and it’s not a problem. We just polished off Corinna’s first white bread loaf for breakfast, and I’ll start feeding her again in a couple days for the next one. Meanwhile, she’s snoozing in the fridge!

      • CurlsnSkirls says:

        Stopped reading immediately after your first sentence. ANOTHER Corinna book and I had NO idea?!?! Indeed, as the sneaky snake amazon revealed. Now have to decide where I can get it safest & fastest…. HUGE thank you’s!
        Yes, know you’re coming into your least favourite season for baking, My bread machine’s instruction/recipe booklet includes sourdough recipes. Might you consider a seasonal shift?

      • katechiconi says:

        So glad I could point you in the right direction! I get all her books and other series on my Kindle. Quickest, and always to hand, especially good for travelling when I can binge on the whole series at leisure. The Wet will be hot, but I think it will suit Corinna, because I can prove overnight, when the temperature is still warm enough and bake in the early morning before it gets really hot. And really, who doesn’t love fresh, warm bread for breakfast?

      • CurlsnSkirls says:

        Thank you again! Have confirmed that the local library system has copies. Now to figure out how to get one. . . 🤔
        You’re a better baker than I, who hates getting up early! Corinna will love all the attention!

  9. magpiesue says:

    I had no idea it was traditional to name your sourdough starter. I kept some going back when our children were little but never started another one after we moved up north. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the video productions of the Miss Fisher mysteries but haven’t read any of Kerry Greenwood’s books. Might have to check out Corinna’s series!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s certainly almost universal amongst the online sourdough community! If you do give the Corinna books a try, the first in the series is Earthly Delights, also the name of her bakery.

  10. anne54 says:

    Well, hello Corinna! You’ve come to a home where you will be welcomed and loved ~ and fed!

  11. Yay… Corinna looks unstoppable and your topped foccacia looks delicious. I’m prepping dough today to bake for lunch visitors tomorrow but although I feed every week I don’t always bake and when I do other than a few warm slices fresh out of the oven the G.O. prefers his bakery soft tank loaf. But he does like filled foccacia… I make a half fruit for him-half savoury or plain for me, plus use the discard for pancakes/crepes, frypan size potato cake, fritters… So handy when you’re 30 km from town and shops.

    • katechiconi says:

      Celia has a recipe for soft crust sourdough which I think we’ll both prefer, and I definitely want to try her sandwich loaf once I get my hands on your Romy bread pan! Sourdough toasties, mmmm! Just shaping my first loaf after an overnight proving, baking it in my Le Creuset cast iron pot to see how that goes. Next one will be in my Römertopf for comparison purposes. Just a question: do you keep your starter in the fridge in a spring top glass jar with the lid down, or cover it with cloth? I used to use just a cloth but it seemed to dry out rather fast. If I close the lid, though, will there be enough oxygen?

      • My starter lives in the fridge in a straight sided screw top jar in between feeds. About once a month I change out to a clean jar that has had 2 minutes in the microwave to zap any nasties (as you know, I don’t have a dishwasher) then cooled.

      • katechiconi says:

        Hmmm. I think I’ll take the seal out of the lid of the spring top jar. That’ll let a tiny bit of air in without letting Corinna dry out. And thanks for the thought about rehoming her regularly; it’s probably even more necessary in this climate, when mould proliferates like crazy in the Wet.

      • I bake out of the fridge in a preheated DO on a rack and throw 3 big icecubes in the bottom for steam, which gives a tenderer crust. I’m busy for the next few days but we can talk next week if you want to hear more… ☺

      • katechiconi says:

        Love to.
        Corinna is at work, lid’s off now and there’s a dish of water bubbling underneath her.

  12. cedar51 says:

    I’ve not even thought along those lines…and I think the one time I tried a loaf via that mode, I didn’t care for it.
    I doubt I will get into a starter, as right now I still refreshing how to cook/bake as it is…
    Last night among the food stuffs that came was a packet labelled “Magic Mince” and what do know this morning found a recipe of the same name…MM is resting/cooling in a big pan – will become some edible stuff from tomorrow (like to rest it. meld flavours); some for the freezer…
    Tonight’s dinner is a very unusual cut of “fish” …. but like last time around, I’ve found a recipe online that I think will suit it!

    • katechiconi says:

      We both infinitely prefer the flavour, my insides prefer it, it keeps well and makes greatly superior toast, so for us, it’s the way to go. I can’t imagine why I didn’t do it before, except that I imagined creating my own starter would be more fiddly and hard work; up to that point, I’d been using a ‘child’ of someone else’s…

  13. Marty K says:

    Corinna’s quite the looker! May you both have a long and productive relationship! 🥖

  14. Mrs Snail gave me some of her starter and I made loads of bread in anticipation of a visit from both my grandsons (late teens with hollow legs!). In the even they didn’t come so I had loads to eat up, left the starter too long before making more and it went very sour. Living alone I only bake once or twice a week so a starter is quite tricky to keep happy. Maybe the mistake was not giving it a name!

    • katechiconi says:

      I didn’t find it too hard. They’re quite happy in the fridge and seem to wake up nicely when you feed them two or three times in advance of baking, but it could be that it’s a climate thing. I think a warmer climate is more conducive to a lively and perhaps more amenable starter…

  15. Steph says:

    Oh too cruel, I was already craving pizza when I read this! 😢

  16. kymlucas says:

    Have read about sourdoughs and considered it, but recipes I’ve found all seem so complicated. Maybe this winter…

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