Like every other millennial, I’m obsessed with sourdough bread. I could probably sit down and mindlessly eat an entire loaf (and really enjoy doing so). I’ve made lots of bread before, but I’ve never made my own sourdough, mostly because I don’t have a starter.
Instead of beg, borrowing, stealing (or buying) a starter, I decided to try to make my own.
It’s a little bit of a tricky task, and it takes a bit of experimentation to get it right. (Everyone’s wild yeast in their own homes will be different). So it’s probably not for the most timid of bakers. But it’s so satisfying to get it right. I will admit that it’s definitely fiddly, didn’t go right for me on the first go and was slightly time consuming. But I’m so proud of my starter now!
And I will hold my hands up and admit that sometimes I forget to feed my starter and have to whisper it sweet apologies when I take it out of the fridge now!
- 400g strong flour
- 400 g tepid water
- DAY 1 - 5 minutes
- Combine equal amounts (weight wise) of water and strong, white bread flour in a glass or plastic container (not metal) until you have an even batter. I started with 50g water and 50 g flour.
- Cover your container, allowing a little access to air. I use a glass jar and I can close the lid, but leave a very small gap which doesn’t make the jar airtight. That's what you need to grow your sourdough starter.
- Place the jar in a room/cupboard where the temperature is fairly stable. Around 20 C preferably. Leave the starter alone for 24 hours.
- DAY 2 - 5 minutes
- Uncover the container with the sourdough starter you made yesterday. You might see the first few bubbles on the surface, but don't worry if you don't.
- Feed the exact same measurements you used in Day 1 to your jar. Mix vigorously, allowing lots of air in.
- Leave your sourdough in your special place for another 24 hours.
- DAY 3 - 5 minutes
- Today you should definitely start seeing bubbles all over the surface of your starter. It may have increased in volume as well. It will start having a slightly sour, yeasty, (but not a bad smell) - it smells like the very beginning of home-brewing.
- If it's starting to form bubbles, feed it exactly the same way you did yesterday and set it aside.
- DAY 4 - 5 minutes
- By Day 4 there should be lots of bubbles in your starter, and there should start to be a foamy layer in your started. It should look like it's risen slightly. It should have a similar smell to yesterday.
- Is your starter in good shape? Awesome. Repeat the feeding process.
- DAY 5
- Your sourdough starter is now ready to use. You can make sourdough bread to your hearts desire.
- Discard half of it and store the rest refrigerated in an airtight, glass or plastic container.
- If there are no bubbles on Day 3, then something will have gone wrong with your starter. Make sure you are giving it enough air and keeping it comfortably warm. You can always give your sourdough a teeny tiny pinch of yeast to encourage activity.
- If there is a layer of water on the top and no activity, but your starter still smells okay, it probably just means your measurements were slightly off. Just pour the water out and feed the rest of the starter normally.
- You sourdough starter smells off, or god forbid- starts to mold then throw it out and start from the beginning.
- I don't use my starter all the time so I keep it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. If you forget to feed your starter every once in a while, don't sweat it. They are heartier than you might expect. If a layer of water forms at the top of your starter, that means it's gone too long without a feed and it's hungry. Pour off the water, feed it as usual and keep an eye on it.
- If you'll be using it more often, it's better to leave it out on the counter and feed it daily.
Have you ever attempted your own sourdough starter? Do you have any troubleshooting tips that you can share with others?