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London tapwater? | Sourdough Companion

London tapwater?

I'm a sourdough newbie and have recently brought my 2 month old starter back to London from rural Ireland. The water, air quality, temperatures, humidity are markedly different in London at the moment and it feels as though the starter is just not as vigorous as it was.

I'm wondering if using London tapwater is inherently problematic, even destructive of the quality of the starter? Anyone have any thoughts about this?

And here's a photo of the last loaf I baked in Ireland before leaving, using a woodfired oven,and white french flour, type 55 which I think of as rocket fuel. 

5 comments

Could be the solution if the London water really is adversely affecting your starter, ginny. I always filter my water. Even though the tap water here is perfectly potable, you can still taste chlorine, minerals etc...the filter jug gets rid of any such tastes. An effective and cheap solution, I think.

Cheers
Ross

I have found Flaska bottle. It's a glass half-a-litre bottle, wears a neoprene protection and it has a scientific information imprinted into the glass (German technology) and lowers chlorine, other bacteria and softens any tap water. They sell it on http://www.flaska.co.uk. Has anyone else bought it yet?

 ah rossnroller thankyou for replying.

um, i notice from your blog you've made a sourdough banana bread! how great!

had been thinking myself about the viability of sourdough along similar lines and made wild blueberry pancakes at the weekend with a little starter in the mix. would be really interested to know more about your non bread experiments - andrew whitley talks about sourdough crumpets i think. 

g

Hi ginny.

Yeah, the banana bread is a regular now. As you might have noted on my SDC write-up, I've added a few little tweaks since posting that original recipe - small modifications, but a big improvement in flavour.

Other SD experiments? I often use excess starter to make parathas, chapatis and naan, and SD bagels are a weekly treat around here. Like just about everyone else with a starter, I regularly make SD pancakes, and also probably like most others, have tweaked my recipe to my preferences.

Wouldn't call these experiments, because all refer to established recipes, but I've also made SD panettone (spectacularly good - used Peter Reinhart's recipe from ABBA), chocolate cake (wouldn't repeat), stollen, hot cross buns, fougasse and probably some other stuff I've forgotten.

Oh, and of course, SD pizza! That's a weekly indulgence. I have posted my recipe here if you're interested. Lately, though, I've just been using bread dough comprising mostly bakers flour, but with around 15% white spelt. I find this as good as my SD pizza recipe, if not better.

If you're interested in any recipes re the above, just lemme know...but you'll find plenty already posted here by the knowledgeable and sharing SDC crew.

Cheers
Ross

Hi Jinny

I thought I had replied to you last week but maybe I did not do it correctly.  If I have - please ignore this.

If you have moved from a well used and well loved baker's kitchen into a kitchen where no baking has ever gone on, there will be a lack of natural cultures and yeasts.  In your old kitchen if you baked a lot there would have been a lot of natural activity which would have made your sour doughs active and lively.  In a new place, if there has been no baking there will be no cultures and your sour doughs will be sluggish.  In the UK in general, industrialised farming and commercial baking have led to a huge loss of natural cultures.  Andrew Wilkinson, a marvellous farmer and miller of organic and old strains of grains comments on that here

So you will have to persevere.  The sour doughs will take longer to rise (no bad thing unless you are in a hurry).  As long as they are well covered just leave them be and let them get on with it.  Over time your new kitchen will become a more lively place!

Kind regards, Jane