If you enjoy making your own bread, chances are, at some point, you considered sourdough. …I love sourdough bread. I love any bread though quite honestly. I just have to limit because I could eat bread all day long.
It’s popular where I’m from (up north in Minnesota) to pass around sourdough starter.. though when I got to Arizona, getting starter was rare. I’ve been here 15 years and not once have any of my friends given me starter – but then not too many (if any) of my friends cook either.
But that is ok… because making a fresh batch is relatively easy to do. It just takes flour and water – and time. Lots of time.
Wait – it might require patience too… 😉
My kids love making it.. my 9 year old included, so if you have kids it could be a fun project to get them involved with.
They Key to Sourdough Starter…
If there is ONE key ingredient to sourdough starter it’s Wild Yeast. Wild yeast is all over — unfortunately, convenience tends to prevail these days and commercial yeast is now popular, and that is because it’s relatively easy for manufacturers to produce in bulk and sell.
Not to mention it’s faster – after all, we live in a society of convenience where we shouldn’t have to wait for anything. Right?
What is Wild Yeast?
Wild yeast is our way of proofing our bread and pastries – it is the “key” to a GOOD sourdough starter. It creates flavor and texture in homemade breads that commercial yeast can’t replicate. Wild yeast requires cooler temps than regular, commercial yeast. It needs to be fed to be used by anyone who bakes bread. It has to be fed regularly – just like YOU feed yourself regularly. It also has to be carefully monitored too… just like you monitor your own food intake.
What is Sourdough Starter?
To be able to use the Wild Yeast in baking, you need to have a starter. Prepare that Wild Yeast in a form (starter) that you can use for baking bread.
To prepare the starter, you need a few things – flour, water, patience, and time. No other fancy ingredients are required. By mixing the proper ingredients together, over time (a few days) you will have a nice, bubbly starter that can be used to make bread. Over those few days, however, you need to “feed” this starter with fresh flour, and fresh water, and take care of the starter – which is relatively easy.
We use Organic, All Purpose, Unbleached Flour for ours.. but you can use whole grain flour too. I think it’s easier to start with basic All Purpose — then move on from there. You should always keep starter available too. .. that way you can have it available any time you need it.
This recipe will make 4 C. of starter — it will take 5 days and you will need a large glass or plastic container, a plastic or wood mixing spoon and a measuring cup. You might also want plastic wrap or a lid for the glass bowl or plastic container.
When you begin making starter, you will eventually see bubbles = which are signs of yeast activity. You will need to “feed” it regularly (once a day) – the wild yeast will grow, and the starter will become smelly and froth up almost double in size.
You will want to leave it on your counter with temps from 70-80 (although our house was 82 and it turned out great too).
Day 1: 4 oz All Purpose Flour + 4 oz. Filtered Water
Mix/Stir them well into a smooth batter. It will be a sticky dough. Scrape down the side of the glass bowl, and then cover the container (either with wrap or, loosely with a lid).
Day 2: 4 oz All Purpose Flour + 4 oz Filtered Water
Mix/Stir into the glass bowl, until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the glass bowl, and then cover the container. You might see some bubbles already forming in your starter which means that the Wild Yeast is working.
Day 3: 4 oz All Purpose Flour + 4 oz Filtered Water
Mix/Stir into the glass bowl, until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the glass bowl, and then cover the container.
Day 4: 4 oz All Purpose Flour + 4 oz Filtered Water
Mix/Stir into the glass bowl, until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the glass bowl, and then cover the container. By now.. your starter should smell pretty strong – it will be really loose, there may be bubbles on the top, and there may be slight liquid on the top too (hooch). Make sure you stir it well when you add the flour & water, then lightly cover for it’s last night.
Day 5: You can Now Use your Starter
If you are looking forward to using this starter.. today is the day it’s ready. It’ll be doubled in size, bubbly on top, very sour and VERY loose!
At this point (Day 5), you have some choices:
Maintain the Starter: Discard or use half of it, then feed the other half with new flour and water (Day 1, far above). Stir until a smooth batter, lightly cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let sit on your counter. This is great if you plan on using it for baking recipes (we make banana bread with ours, pancakes too).
Store for Later.... then cover it tightly, and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge once a week and feed it (3/4 C. + 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour + 4 oz Filtered water, then stir well). If you decide to use it at any point, let it sit out overnight to let the yeast wake up, then put it back in the fridge once you are done using it.
Reduce It: Discard half, then feed it with 1/2 of the flour & water called for (4 oz Flour is 3/4 C. + 2 Tbsp, so you can use half of that, which would be 2 oz flour + 2 oz water).
Share the Starter: Put a cup or two of starter in a freezer bag and label. Pass along to a friend who loves to bake, along with baking instructions that will allow her to use it in baked goods (ex. banana bread) or, instructions on “feeding” it.
Dry the Starter to Freeze: Smear the starter on a baking mat and let it dry over the course of a few days. Once it’s dry, break it up and store in a freezer bag for a few months. To bring it back to life, dissolve the flakes (1/4 C.) in 4 oz of water, and 4 oz of flour (3/4 C. + 2 Tbsp). Then continue feeding it as mentioned far above (Day 1, Day 2 Day 3..) until it comes alive.
Stay tuned! Are you looking for recipes to use your starter? Or perhaps a basic sourdough recipe? Over the next week we’ll have several. We will link them below as we post them on the blog.