How-to: Small batch sourdough starter

It’s week 6 of self-isolation due to COVID-19, and of course I’ve been learning how to make sourdough like a true millennial. Nothing says self-growth quite like embarking on a 3 day baking journey that takes another 7 days to prepare for, in a time when flour shortage is a thing, and bread yeast is apparently no longer a thing at all.

Unsure what sourdough bread is all about? Keep reading. If you’ve done the research and are just looking for my recipe, scroll down. If you’re interested in the background, my personal experience, and a full visual experience, check out my YouTube video (like, subscribe, and tell all your friends) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W3hfSgkau0&t=20s

Sourdough starter – give me the rundown.

Sourdough bread is made with an active starter culture in place of dry yeast that most risen baked goods require. Sourdough starter is a live culture, or live yeast, that is created by adding flour and water to the same mixture repeatedly, over time, until the culture is bubbly and active, or there is ample amount of yeast bacteria. A fermentation process, if you will. In order to keep the culture active we have to feed it with flour and water. Yum, right?

The thought of this grossed me out for a long time, and quite frankly confused the heck out of me. But yogurt, beer, and kimchi are all made by a fermentation process, and the results are quite palatable, so I figured it was time to turn my nose back down and give this sourdough starter a try.

The starter is high maintenance to get it going, which is why I decided to take advantage of my time at home during the pandemic. It needs to be fed once per day at roughly the same time of day for four days, and then twice per day, 12 hours apart for the next three days. Not impossible, but likely not a huge priority when you’re trying to make it to the bus on time.

Once you have an active, bubbly, growing starter you can apply this to any sourdough recipe you like, AND you can maintain this starter and share it with your friends for years to come. Starter does best when it’s fed regularly, but if you don’t plan to bake every other day, you can easily manage the starter’s growth process by storing it in the fridge. Once mature, a starter only needs to be fed once a week, which makes it less maintenance than a pile of laundry.

I scoured the internet for easy beginner sourdough recipes that really weren’t that easy to follow – they required a method to weigh ingredients, and had a lot of scientific jargon that went right over my head. I wanted to use the basic equipment I already had in my house, and ingredients that weren’t impossible to find. I finally just decided to use the concepts that I learned, and create a starter recipe and method of my own. The gist of a starter growth method is to double. Add double the flour and double the water to the amount of starter you’re feeding. In order to avoid incremental growth, keep removing starter from the mixture and feeding that portion of it.

Sourdough Starter How To

Equipment:

  • 2 glass jars with lids
  • ┬áspatula
  • 1 tbsp measure
  • paper towel

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp rye flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • water

Method:

Day 1: Measure 3 tbsp rye flour and 3 tbsp water in a jar. Mix thoroughly. Cover the jar with paper towel and secure with a mason jar ring or elastic band. The paper towel allows air flow but blocks debris. Place the starter in a warm spot in the kitchen – on top of the fridge is a good temperature. Mix 1 cup of rye flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour in a jar and set aside. This will save time during the feeding process later.

Day 2 (24 hours later): Measure 2 tbsp of rye/AP flour mixture into a new clean jar. Add 1 tbsp of starter and 2 tbsp of water. Mix thoroughly. Cover with paper towel and set aside.

Day 3: Repeat the feeding process from Day 2.

Day 4: Repeat the feeding process from Day 3.

*You may notice a liquid start to form and sit on top of your starter. This is called hooch and it’s forming because your starter is hungry. Drain it off or mix it in, it won’t harm you.

Day 5 Morning: feed your starter the same doubling recipe; 1 tbsp starter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water.

Day 5 Evening: feed your starter the same doubling recipe; 1 tbsp starter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water.

Day 6: Morning and evening feed.

Day 7: Morning and evening feed. By the end of Day 7 your starter should be doubling in size, and be nice and bubbly. By this stage it should be ready to bake with!

Is your starter ready?

Get baking! My go-to sourdough bread recipe is from www.thekitchn.com. It’s super easy to follow and requires only a small amount of starter (perfect for my small batch recipe!)

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