How to grow sourdough starter at home

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I have recently discovered new passion- the sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is consider the ancient and even healthier way of bread making. It is fascinating to see how only three ingredients: flour, water and salt can create the best tasting bread ever!

To make sourdough bread you do not use the commercial yeasts. Instead you create your own at home! It might sound impossible, but trust me it`s just the simple process of catching the wild yeast around us. The basic starter you would need is made of two ingredients- water and flour! The rest is basically mother nature`s job.

Once your starter is ready you can make your bread, by just adding more flour and water and season just with salt. There are important steps to follow in order to develop the natural gluten in the dough, which will give it the specific taste, net of bubbles and most of all will help the bread to rise beautifully.

Good sourdough bread has thick crust, golden color, nice crack and if you knock on the bottom you will hear a hollow sound.

The process of making your own bread is usually longer than 24 hours, as we skip the commercial yeast and we naturally develop the dough. Don`t skip any of the steps or you will fail miserably (been there!).

But going back to the main point and as the post suggest I will be talking of how to make your starter.

You will need:

  • White flour- see my note below
  • Wholegrain flour
  • Filtrated water. DO NOT use tap water
  • Big clean glass jar
  • Spoon
  • Scales
  • Patience

NOTE: Using good quality organic flour will benefit for the proper developing of your starter and later bread. Do not use self rising flour or bleached flour!

As we live in Dubai and are blessed with warm and sunny days almost all year long I found it very easy to have my starter ready in the matter of 7 days. Once your starter is ready it can be used infinite number of times. Just always keep at least a table spoon of it after baking. I will come back to how to store it a bit later.

DAY 1

Make sure your utensils are all clean from dirt or cleaning detergents. Using a large spoon measure 50 ml water, 35 g white flour and 15 g wholewheat flour. Mix well, cover with cling foil and set somewhere to rest (avoid direct sunlight).

Notes: do not use cold water as you will slow the process, but also do not use hot water as this could develop bad bacteria in it.

DAY 2

There won`t be any difference in your jar. Add 50 ml of water, 35 g white flour and 15 g wholegrain flour. Mix well, cover the jar and set aside.

DAY 3

Still no big changes,but small bubbles might start to appear. Add 50 ml of water, 35 g white flour and 15 g wholewheat flour. Mix well, cover and set aside.

DAY 4

You can clearly see the formation of big bubbles. Discard most of the starter by leaving around 2 table spoons of it. Add 100 ml water, 70 g white flour and 30 g wholewheat flour. Mix well and set aside for another 24 hours.

DAY 5

Even more bubbles will appear. Discard most of the starter by leaving only two tablespoons of it. Add 100 ml water, 70 g white flour and 30 g wholewheat flour. Mix well and set aside.

DAY 6

The starter is more than double in size and big bubbles are developed. The smell is sour, but pleasant. Discard most of the starter by leaving only two tablespoons of it. Add 100 ml water, 70 g white flour, 30 g wholewheat flour. Mix well and set aside.

DAY 7

At this point the starter will be very strong and feeding it once a day might not be enough. Try it`s intensity by mixing 1 tbsp of starter with 50 ml water and 50 g white flour. Mark where is the top and let sit for couple of hours. If the volume doubles in size your starter is ready. If not, then keep feeding it for few more days as mentioned above.

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Different scenarios:

  • Feeding the starter- after adding water and flour to it, it might take from 2 to up to 24 hours to rise and double in size. Be observant to see how long it takes your starter to rise and be in its best.
  • Very low or no activity- No activity such as bubbles and foam is a sign there is something added to your starter that prevent the bacteria from growing and developing. My advice is to start again, following my instructions religiously
  • Bad, unnatural smell- the starter will have sour, but rather pleasant smell. If the smell is bad that means bad bacteria has developed. You can save it by discarding most of it but 1 table spoon, move it to new clean jar and feed it with equal amounts of water and flour.
  • Bring your starter to life by adding 1 tbsp raw honey
  • The forming of a thin layer of water on the top of the sourdough surface is a sign that the bacteria are hungry. Feed it with equal amounts of flour and water

Don`t be silly!

Always keep at least 1 table spoon of starter! This will help you to keep it always available when you need it, without starting everything again.

Taking care of your starter

If you have big plans for baking on a daily basis you can keep the starter out and just feed it with equal amount of water and flour every day. If not this is not very sustainable, so you can seal your jar and keep it in the fridge instead. Feed it with equal amount of water and flour at least once a week to keep it alive and healthy.  Low temperatures won`t kill but rather slow down the bacteria. When ready to bake, take the starter out, add equal amount of water and flour and let sit at least 12 hours in advance.

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pingback: Sourdough pancakes

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