Sourdough making may seem intimidating, but it’s really not! All you need is flour, salt, water, time, and patience to make your own heavenly loaf of sourdough.
All sourdough starts with what’s called a starter culture, or “Mother”. Basically you mix flour and water together, stir it a few times a day, and the natural yeast that floats around in the air and on the flour will activate and feed on the starches and sugars in the flour, and will create carbon dioxide bubbles as a by product, which is what will leaven our bread!
Here’s a link if you want to read more about the science behind sourdough: https://ideas.ted.com/inside-the-fascinating-and-delicious-science-of-sourdough-bread/
You will need:
100 grams All-Purpose flour (or a blend of flours, at least 50% should be all-purpose)
100 grams water, room temp
A kitchen scale/ gram scale
A clean, clear glass jar with lid, must be able to hold about 4 cups of liquid.
1. Mix the flour and water together in your jar. Loosely place the lid on. Place the jar in a dark, cool place.
2. Stir the mixture in the jar a few times a day, whenever you think about it. About 3 or 4 times daily.
3. Repeat step 2 for about 3-8 days, until the mixture starts to bubble. It should smell slightly tangy, maybe sweet, even a little like acetone or vinegar. The tangy taste and smell will strengthen with age.
Congrats, you now have created a live yeast culture in your kitchen! To keep it alive, it must be fed. How often you feed will depend on how you store your sourdough.
If the sourdough is sitting on the counter, it needs to be fed everyday.
If the sourdough is stored in your fridge, feed once per week.
To make sourdough, the starter will need to be at room temp and fed about 2-4 hours before it can be used to make a recipe.
1. Bring starter up to room temp. If it isnt room temp already, just let the jar sit on the counter overnight.
2. Pour out/ discard 80% of the starter. (you can store the discard in a jar in your fridge and use it for recipes that call for discard, see my notes.)
3. Mix in 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water to the remaining 20% of your starter. Let the sourdough sit on the counter for at least two hours to “feed” before putting it back in the fridge or using the starter to bake with.
-I use all-purpose flour to feed my sourdough starter, some people like using whole wheat flour, rye, spelt, etc. You can use whatever you like as long as at least 50% of the flour you use is all-purpose. For example, 25 grams all-purpose flour+ 25 grams whole wheat.
-There are tons of recipes that call for sourdough discard rather than active/fed starter. Discard is used in recipes to add the tangy flavor of sourdough, but not necessarily as a leavener. Here are a few of my favorites: Sourdough pizza, sourdough crackers, and sourdough pancakes
-You might notice that if you leave your sourdough starter in the fridge, it’ll have a layer of liquid sitting on top of the starter. This is totally normal! Some people call it “hooch” because it is very slightly alcoholic. You can pour off the refrigerator hooch or stir it in, everyone deals with the hooch differently. I usually pour mine out.
-A little bit of mold is normal. The acidity of the starter culture keeps the really bad bacterias at bay, but rarely you might notice a small dot of mold at the surface of the starter. Just scoop it out with a clean spoon. Trust me, its fine!
-A scale is very useful in the kitchen, especially bread making (using measuring cups is pretty inaccurate!) But if you dont have one, 100g= A heaping 3/4 cup of flour and just under 1/2 cup water. 50g =1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water
This photo shows a slightly inactive starter. Yours should bubble more than this! I fed this one right before taking the photo, so most of the bubbles popped when I stirred the starter.