He’s sour, but dependable. He’s simple, but unique. He needs feeding, but only eats two things. He can be a bit crusty, but he’s a hard worker. He’s Jerry, our beloved sourdough starter.
Back in 2009, when The Stable was nothing but a back-alley cider bar in Bridport, we thought it would be a great idea to serve pizzas to soak up a little of the cider we were serving. Our first step was to stir together some English flour with a dash of water, we then left it to one side and thanks to the alchemy of natural yeast, Jerry was born, bubbly and active. He was named after the chef who first stirred him up – he doesn’t work with us anymore, but his legacy remains.
Jerry is the base to all our sourdough pizza dough. Now, for those of us who aren’t sourdough nerds (like Patch, our executive chef), here’s a little lesson in sourdough: flour contains natural (and perfectly healthy) yeast and bacteria. When mixed with a little water and left at room temperature in the open air, these yeasts are fed, become active and attract natural airborne yeasts, who join the party and add energy and flavour (in a good way).
After a few feedings of a mix of 50%flour and 50%water (and a little maintenance) these yeasts become strong like baking yeast (those little beige granules you might have used before, if you’ve ever baked at home) and rather than a floury sludge, they are bubbly and smell a little like ale. The starter can then be used in dough recipes. Whatever doesn’t get used in the recipe can be fed again and again and again, meaning that it can “live” for years and years. Using sourdough starter lends a slightly sour taste, an open bubbly crumb structure and a moorish chewiness to whatever you bake with it, and it’s especially suited to our delicious signature pizza bases. All the more reason to eat your crusts!
We’ve taken a little bit of Jerry with us to every restaurant we’ve opened – all 17 locations! – and nurtured a new starter for each. Jerry has traveled the country – he loves a good road trip!
Jerry lives on in each site and is fed daily with flour and water. His characteristic bubbliness can be experienced with every bite of every pizza we serve. He’s an important member of The Stable family. He lives in the kitchen, greets us every day and never lets us down. He’s pretty great.