Make A Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Home 9 Sourdough Bread 9 Make A Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Making your sourdough starter is the first step into the great world of naturally leavened bread.

It is way simpler than you might think. Forget all the nonsense that some people say about adding fruit or honey or using some mythical Egyptian starter form 3500 yeas ago. None of that is necessary. I will show you how to make a starter with two ingredients and no fuss. Check out the Sourdough section in the top menu to learn more about storing and using your starter and what you could do with the leftovers. I have many informative videos on this.

Having a sourdough starter opens up a whole new world of baking. Almost any yeasted bread recipe can be transformed to be made with a sourdough starter. The best part is the experimentation. 

The distinct flavour that a long fermentation provides is unmatched by commercial yeast. 

Breads made with sourdough starter or breads made with prefermented flour in general will have a thicker, crispier crust and a far better keeping quality. Meaning that they will not go mouldy as quickly as yeasted breads. This provides a great opportunity for baking larger loaves that could last longer.

Ingredients

50g (1.75oz) strong white bread flour

50g (1.75oz) room temperature filtered water

Water is extremely important as the wrong water will inhibit your starter activity. Tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals which the natural yeast does not like. If you want to use tap water then either filter it, boil it and leave it to cool down or pour it into a bowl and leave it uncovered for 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate.

Method

ay#1 – Mix the flour and water, cover and leave out for 24 hours.

Day#2 – Remove 50g (1.75oz) of the mix and replace with 25g (0.88oz) flour and 25g (0.88oz) water. Mix, cover and leave out for 24h.

Day#3 – Repeat what you did on Day#2.

Day#4, #5, #6, #7 etc. repeat until you start seeing activity.

Once active feed it at a 1:10:10 ratio daily to make it stronger.

To build the levain for baking, take 1 part of starter and add 2 parts water, 2 parts flour.

Example for 1 normal bread loaf with 500g (17.6oz) flour I normally use 100g (3.5oz) levain. To make it, take 20g (0.7oz) starter and add 40g (1.4oz) water and 40g (1.4oz) flour for a 1:2:2 ratio.

Once your starter is nice and strong you can keep it in the fridge and feed it before baking. Take it out, discard or use any excess starter, once again feed it at a 1:10:10 ratio and when it is ready, use part of it to build the levain for baking. And place the leftover starter back in the fridge until next time. It is best to refrigerate your starter when it is puffed up and active. That way it will be more lively when you pull it out next time when you are ready to bake.

I have had people tell me that their starter was bubbly and active in just a few days. It may take you longer, it may take you less time. 

Every starter is different at the end of the day and it will be up to you to learn how your one reacts.

Watch the video here

Understanding the principles of bread making will let you be in complete control every time you make bread. It will reduce the failure rate and turn you into an even more confident home baker.

I highly recommend you check out the Learning page where I have detailed, easy to understand explanations on each step of the bread baking process and the principles behind it. You can find all the equipment I use and recommend in the Shop (UK) & Shop (US) pages.

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