A bakery threw a birthday party for its sourdough starter, as all bakeries should

Illustration for article titled A bakery threw a birthday party for its sourdough starter, as all bakeries should
Photo: Danielle Leavell (Getty Images)

Building a sourdough starter takes patience, focus, and care, all of which a large portion of the country happened to have in excess during the early weeks of stay-at-home orders. But how long will those sourdough starters last once life returns to its previously bustling state? It’s possible we’ll see many jars quietly perish in their vessels. So it’s doubly sweet that Hobbs House, a bakery in Bristol, UK, recently threw a birthday party for its 65-year-old sourdough starter, which employees have dubbed the bakery’s “hardest working employee.”


According to Metro, the humble little bread culture first arrived at Hobbs House in 1955, when it was gifted to the bakery by a fellow baker from Germany. Though the starter has been at its current home for 65 years, it’s possible that it’s actually quite a bit older than that, depending on how long it was nurtured before it was handed off. In any case, it received a birthday celebration befitting a longstanding community member, complete with banners and cupcakes.

As any San Francisco bakery can tell you, the longer you care for a sourdough starter, the more complex and unique its flavor becomes—so Hobbs House has seen an increase in demand for jars of its starter since the pandemic began.

“We love the thought that many thousands of [loaves] have been enjoyed up and down the country all baked with our edible heritage,” said bakery employee Alice Drake. “To become a custodian of this is priceless.”

If you’re having trouble staying motivated to feed your starter and bake sourdough loaves in the heat of the summer, just think about Hobbs House, which has dutifully maintained its culture amid a tumultuous century of change and upheaval. Wouldn’t you rather plan a birthday party for your starter than a funeral?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.



I think the trick is to find ways of using the starter that arent making a full blown loaf of some shit. I can only really allocate the time to get a proper dough running once a week at most. I use most of my discarded starter to do little morning flatbread with my eggs and ham. Takes like 3-4 minutes to cook and i’m not just dumping all that fed starter into the garbage.

Sourdough and its starter are great but damn it can be wasteful if youre not careful about finding uses for it.