Sourdough starter on tour

Travelling baker. That’s the feeling I get when I’m off somewhere and take my sourdough starter with me. I’ve only travelled with the starter with the intent of baking at the destination, so here’s a recollection of various situations how I’ve been travelling with a sourdough starter.

Bucket full of dough

Sourdough bread
Batch of baked loaves from the bucket of dough

I’m a scout and every now and then I go and cook for these smaller scout camps. I was asked to cook for 70 people and I heard that I’d have access to a professional steam oven. Naturally that meant I wanted to bake breads for the bunch.

To streamline my process at the campsite, I inoculated the mother-dough already at home. I calculated, that to bake 15 to 20 loaves, I need at least 5kg of the mother-dough. So instead of a bowl, I did it in a bucket!

So the next day I packed my stuff and my bucket of pre-ferment in my car and started this episode of travelling with a sourdough starter by driving to the destination. Everything went great baking wise, though I underestimated the power of the oven and the first batch might have burned a bit.

I didn’t use all of the mother-dough so I tried to bake that in a GN-tin. The end result looked like a bread but was far too acidic to be eaten. Now I know.

Pre-ferment in Tupperware

Travelling with sourdough starter
Second batch of travellers breads

I had a similar case, this time the participant amount was only 20 to 30, so I didn’t need the bucket. A large Tupperware box proved to be a better choice, since the lid was air tight and the mother-dough didn’t develop a dry film on top.

The interesting case was, that outside temperature was freezing and I had slight challenges to keep the mother-dough thawed.

Upon arrival, I was in a slight schedule to get the bulk ferment going but the cold trip had noticeably slowed down the ferment of the mother-dough. I placed it near the stove for an hour at approx 35C to get the fermentation going again.

It worked like a charm and I was able to reach my deadline and bake delicious loaves.

Cold and alone

Coloured dough
I tried to color the brad pink with some surplus beetroot syrup
Travelling with sourdough starter
The bread had only the slightest tint of pink

My latest performance of travelling with a sourdough starter was a trip to Lapland. I fed the starter in my original glass jar and took it aboard the car we packed in a train. I was initially planning to take starter with us to the cabin to prevent total freezing, but I was replied with an empty stare when mentioning that a sourdough starter is joining us in the sleeper wagon…

So I left the starter in the car for the overnight train trip, knowing it will freeze through and through. I thought that I’ll have enough time to reinvigorate the starter as we’re a week in Lapland.

Normally when I freeze the starter, I take some extra measures in reducing the water activity before freezing, but this time I did nothing. Nevertheless, the starter continued to work as planned as soon as it thawed slowly in the room temp.


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