Make Your Own
Are you dreaming of successful sourdough baking? Does it seem complicated or intimidating? It really doesn't have to be. Follow along with me and I'll show you how to make sourdough baking simple!
You might ask "Why should I be interested in making a Sourdough Starter?"
Have you seen the price of industrial yeast these days? Can you even find any on the shelf at your supermarket? This last year has been a real crazy time and now more than ever it's a great time to learn how to make your own.
In most of my recipes I choose to use a pinch of industrial yeast because it does speed up the process and I like to make a loaf of bread in one day most of the time.
If you really don't have any store bought yeast or you choose to devote the extra time, you can completely skip the industrial yeasts and use only your wild yeast starter to accomplish a brilliant loaf of bread with even more sourdough flavor!
I've read lots of posts on how easy it is to get your own starter bubbling and then the post goes on about all of these critical little details you need to follow to make it work but I know from years of experience this is just not so.
Pioneers and ancient bakers didn't have all that much time on their hands or pristine environments to work in. It had to be simple or they wouldn't have hung on to this amazing process of making bread from just flour, water and salt.
You can start a beautiful heavy lifting wild yeast starter from any flour you choose although some flours do have more strength than others. Rye flour has been preferred in European countries for centuries for it's lift. Whole wheat and semolina flours are also powerful starters but common all purpose flour works very well for me. I use it most of the time because it's the easiest to find and the least expensive.
I have used semolina flour in this demonstration because I've always wanted to try it. It's amazing! The important thing to know is that if you change flours for any reason, you will still have a sourdough starter that will work. What happens is the base flour will change over time to the new flour and this will effect it's strength and flavor accordingly.
Starting your sourdough starter couldn't be easier. Simply mix together 1/4 cup each flour and water in a jar or bowl that can be loosely covered and let it sit on the counter at normal room temperatures overnight. The warmer it happens to be the faster your wild yeasts will multiply!
You will want to cover the jar or bowl with something that allows gasses to escape and keeps debris or fruit fly's from landing in it. Fruit fly's love this stuff! I like to use a canning jar with a wide mouth, lid and ring loosely tightened, for starting a new culture (that's fancy for starter) and also for keeping it in the refrigerator when I'm not making something with it.
Many people are concerned about using water that has been chemically treated (city water) and if it concerns you, use distilled or spring water. The truth is, unless the chemicals in the water are abnormally high, your yeasts will thrive. I have always used treated well water or city water with complete success.
Over the next 4 - 7 days, you will need to devote a few minutes each day to refresh and feed your culture. Repeat the process each day as I describe below and you should have a gorgeous starter in less than a week that you can continue to feed, use and store long term! More to come next week on that.
How to get ready to bake:
When my starter is ready, I move it to a larger container so that I can bulk it up in volume to bake with.
4-6 hours before I intend to start baking, I add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter in this small crock and stir well. I cover the crock with a screen to allow air circulation and to keep out debris. The lid puts enough weight on to keep the screen in place and limits the air flow so the top of the starter doesn't get dried out.
Leave this to sit at room temperature until you are ready to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and if you drop a 1/2 teaspoon of the starter into a glass of water it should float.
To store your starter for a few weeks at a time, put it to sleep by placing it in the refrigerator in a jar with a lid and loosely tightened ring allowing gasses to escape. Stay tuned for my next post on the care and keeping of your sourdough starter coming next week.
In the mean time, make a starter and try one of my easy sourdough recipes like Everyday Sourdough Bread.
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Make Your Own
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water + 1 or 2 Tablespoons if needed
Add 1/4 cup of the flour of your choice to a clean jar or bowl that can be loosely covered to keep contaminants out but let gasses escape. I used a 1 pint jar with a lid and ring that was not fully tightened.
Now add 1/4 cup of water and mix well. I use city tap water and have not found it to be an issue prohibiting the wild yeasts from taking hold.
If your flour is very dry, you might need to add 1 or 2 tablespoons more water to thoroughly mix the flour and water just to the point where you can stir it.
Let sit on the counter over night.
The second day add another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mix well. You may start to see some bubbles and a yeasty aroma should begin to develop. Cover loosely and let it sit on the counter overnight.
The third day you will remove 1/2 of the mixture and discard it (or make pancakes!) Then again add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the remainder.
Continue the same process as on the third day, each day, until you have achieved your active sourdough starter. This should take less than one week or as few as 4 days.
You can test the strength of your starter by adding a 1/2 teaspoon to a glass of water. If it floats, your new sourdough starter is ready to use!