The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French Buttermilk Starter

stephanienola's picture

French Buttermilk Starter

Hi There,

I had some leftover buttermilk so I decided to make a starter using Beth Hensperger's recipe from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook and being a newbie to baking, I need some help.

First, she gives instructions for a first feeding after 36 hours but does not indicate how often to feed it after that. From what's know of starters, they need to be fed at least once a day. What do y'all think?

Second, I'd prefer to make something by hand instead of using Beth's recipe for the bread machine. Can I just use this as I would any other starter in a sourdough bread recipe?

Many thanks!


isand66's picture

What's in the starter??   Usually you would keep refreshing every day for at least a week until it is fully developed.


stephanienola's picture

Just buttermilk, flour and some dry active yeast.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and not maintained.  Any indications from the bread recipe?  A page number might also be helpful...

PaddyL's picture

I use a buttermilk starter all the time.  I only ever have to feed it the night before I make the bread, and never had to feed it after the first time.  None of it ever gets thrown out either.

stephanienola's picture

Interesting, thank you.  would you mind sharing your bread recipe that you use with it?

PaddyL's picture

This recipe makes 4 loaves.  You can cut it in half, though.

To make the bread, you must mix a primary batter the night before you plan to bake. Put the entire starter into a large bowl, and add 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 cups of flour, mix it well, cover with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm place (I use the top of the fridge for this.), on a counter out of drafts is fine, overnight.

In the morning, or whenever you can get to it the next day, take 2 generous cups of the primary batter and put them into a large bowl, returning the rest to a container to put back into the fridge.

2 cups sourdough starter (from the primary batter as above)
3 cups milk (I use reconstituted dry skim milk powder.)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (I use vegetable oil.)
1/2 cup honey (or 1/3 or even less. I have used maple syrup when I found myself out of honey, and you can't taste the difference.)
4 tsps. salt
2 tsps. instant yeast
10 to 12 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I have used bleached flour with no apparent difference in either mixing or texture.)

Put the 2 cups of starter in a large bowl, and put the rest back into the fridge. Add the milk, lukewarm, the butter or oil, the honey, and the salt. Mix instant yeast with a cup of the flour and add that, followed by the rest of the flour, or as much as you can work in, beating well until you have a shaggy mess. Tip it out onto your work surface and knead it till smooth and elastic. Once I've got it all together in a less shaggy mass, I put the bowl over it and give it, and myself, up to 30 minutes rest. Go back to the dough, pick it up and slam it down on the work surface a couple of times, and you'll find the rest of the kneading much easier. Since it's such a massive amount of dough, you should give it, all told, about 12 minutes of kneading, but you can let it rest from time to time. Then plunk it in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise till double, up to a a couple of hours. Punch it down, knead it a bit, cut and shape it into however many loaves you would like, or rolls , or cinnamon buns. Put it in the greased pans, cover, and let rise till double, about an hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg.F. and bake your fully risen dough for about 40 minutes for loaves, half that for rolls.

After adding the above ingredients to the starter, and while it's still batter-y rather than dough-y, I take out a good four cups and place them in another large bowl, then stir about 1-1/2 cups, plumped, dark and light raisins, sometimes some pumpkin seeds, into one of the bowls of batter. Cover the bowl and work on the other half till it's ready to be put to rise, then go back to the raisiny bowl and work on that one. You have two bowls of dough rising. When it has risen.....
I shape the plain dough into rolls, or loaves. For the raisin bread, I divide that dough in two, roll each out, brush lightly with water, sprinkle on a cinnamon/sugar mix, then roll it up and put it into greased pans.