Sourdough Starter: How to Start Your Own

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Sourdough bread, an age-old tradition, experienced a resurgence in popularity after the tumultuous year of 2020. It became a symbol of comfort and creativity during challenging times. The beauty of it lies in its simplicity, as it requires just flour and water. This introduction sets the stage for the discussion of sourdough bread and its recent resurgence.

Sourdough bread, an age-old tradition, experienced a resurgence in popularity after the tumultuous year of 2020. It became a symbol of comfort and creativity during challenging times. The beauty of sourdough lies in its simplicity, as it requires just flour and water. This introduction sets the stage for the discussion of sourdough bread and its recent resurgence.

Starting Sourdough

Making sourdough bread isn’t just a culinary endeavor; it links us to an enduring tradition cherished for generations. This age-old practice saw a resurgence in 2020, capturing the hearts and kitchens of countless individuals seeking solace, creativity, and a deeper connection to life’s simple pleasures. Sourdough is a beautifully intricate yet astonishingly simple art, where a handful of basic ingredients transform into an edible masterpiece.

During the global pandemic, with boredom and isolation prevalent, many turned to sourdough as a creative outlet. With just flour, water, and time, people embarked on a culinary adventure that allowed for both artistic expression and a tangible connection to centuries of tradition. In a world fraught with uncertainty, sourdough became a symbol of stability and resilience, reminding us that even in challenging times, the act of creation can be profoundly rewarding.

The Simplicity of Making your Starter

Despite its apparent simplicity, the world of sourdough may seem daunting to newcomers. Questions about measurements, feeding schedules, and the enigmatic readiness of the dough can bewilder novices. It’s crucial to grasp that sourdough’s heart lies in its simplicity – it’s a living organism nurtured from just flour and water. Its unique charm is its ability to generate its own yeast through natural fermentation, eliminating the need for commercial yeast.

The process of initiating a sourdough “starter” and transforming it into a loaf of bread encompasses a wide array of techniques, each with its own nuances and subtleties. In the past, sourdough knowledge was passed down through generations, taught through actions rather than the written word. It was a family secret, a treasured legacy, and a source of pride. But fear not; I’m here to guide you through my approach to sourdough, breaking it down into more accessible steps.

Sourdough bread, an age-old tradition, experienced a resurgence in popularity after the tumultuous year of 2020. It became a symbol of comfort and creativity during challenging times. The beauty of sourdough lies in its simplicity, as it requires just flour and water. This introduction sets the stage for the discussion of sourdough bread and its recent resurgence.

Creating your Sourdough Starter

The first and most crucial step on your sourdough journey is creating a sourdough starter. This living mixture of wild yeast and beneficial bacteria serves as the heartbeat of your bread-making process. By regularly feeding it with a blend of flour and water, you’ll nurture it into a vibrant, active component over the course of several days to a week. It demands patience, but it’s a journey well worth taking.

The Gluten Structure in Sourdough

With a thriving starter at your disposal, the subsequent stages become more approachable. You’ll mix the starter with additional flour and water to produce the dough, allowing it to rest and ferment. The development of the dough’s gluten structure is facilitated through a sequence of gentle stretches and folds. Once your dough is primed, you’ll shape it and bake it to perfection, waiting for that golden, crispy crust and delightful aroma to fill your kitchen.

As you engage in the process of sourdough baking, you’ll become increasingly comfortable with the steps, and your confidence will grow. The initial hesitation and uncertainty will give way to a profound sense of accomplishment. The beauty of sourdough is that it’s a canvas for experimentation. You can explore different types of flour, hydration levels, and flavors to create your own unique signature loaf.

Tradition of Sourdough Baking

The resurgence of sourdough isn’t a passing trend; it represents a return to the roots of breadmaking and a rekindling of the joy that arises from nurturing a living culture and crafting something delicious from the simplest of ingredients. Whether you’re seeking a creative outlet, a connection to tradition, or simply a delectable loaf of bread, sourdough baking offers something for everyone. So, don your apron, embrace the basic alchemy of flour and water, and embark on your very own sourdough adventure. This is a tradition that has withstood the test of time and continues to bring satisfaction and connection to this day.

Ready? Let’s Make our Starter!

First, all you need is purified water and unbleached, all-purpose flour, and a digital food scale. You can get the one I have here. For your tools, you will want a container with a lid that has enough room in it for some growth (I use this one), a spoon, and eventually a bowl and either a Dutch oven with a lid, a cast iron skillet, or even a bread pan, but those come later.

The starter process is what takes the longest because you are allowing for the fermentation part or yeast-making to happen so your bread will naturally be able to rise on its own. Below are the steps I follow.

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter with Unbleached Flour
Print Recipe
Prep Time:7 days

Equipment

  • Weck Canning Jars
  • Digital Food Scale
  • Spatula
  • Spoon

Ingredients

  • 420 g Unbleached All-Purpose or Unbleached bread flour
  • 420 g Purified water

Instructions

  • Day 1: Get a clean jar/container and place it on your food scale, tare to 0 grams. Next, gradually pour in 60 grams of unbleached flour, tare the scale to 0, pour in 60 grams of purified water (ROOM TEMP), and stir. Place the lid on the jar and set aside on your counter or near a window so that your dough can get some heat.
  • Day 2: Nothing! Give your sourdough 24 hours to build up the "hooch". Hooch is liquid that collects at the top of your sourdough. This is a sign your sourdough needs to be fed.
  • Day 3: Get a new, clean jar/container and place it on your food scale, tare to 0 grams. You are going to scoop out half of your starter or at least have 60 grams of your sourdough starter remaining and place it in the new clean jar. Next, gradually pour in 60 grams of unbleached flour, tare the scale to 0g, pour in 60 grams of purified water (ROOM TEMP), and stir. Place the lid on the jar and set aside on your counter or near a window so that your dough can get some heat.
  • Day 4-7 After day 5 we are going to repeat the 60 g sourdough starter, 60-gram flour, and 60-gram water until we start to see lots of bubbles. See below for a good reference on bubbly-starter.

Notes

For me to feel confident in my starter I allow for this process to take a week maybe even longer than that if it’s colder out, just because I really want it to be active and strong for a good loaf of bread.
Servings: 1 Starter
Author: caschmitt2511

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