How to make your own Sourdough Starter

Isn’t the smell of homemade bread the best! This is a regular occurrence in our house not because I am busy baking all night long so we can have fresh bread everyday but because we own a breadmaker! My husband is a gadget man so owning a breadmaker was his idea and initially we made our own bread purely for fun, although it definitely tastes better than bought bread. Now I make bread for three reasons:

  • Budget – our breadmaker has paid for itself so many times over.
  • The fact I know exactly what has gone into it and can make it without adding any sugar.
  • Freshness – there’s nothing better than waking up to a loaf of fresh bread at breakfast time!

Over the years we’ve tried out lots of different recipes although our staple is a no added sugar wholemeal loaf. I’m still trying to work out how to make it without needing to use any bread improver but haven’t managed that yet.

When we lived in Wellington I grew a sourdough starter which I then added to breads I made in my breadmaker but I never really experimented further than that. Over the past few weeks I have managed to perfect (with the help of my taste testers Freddie and Lottie) a wholemeal sourdough loaf that is chewy and tangy and incredibly moreish! I’ll be sharing with you soon so make sure you follow the blog or check back in so you don’t miss out!

It’s not just because it tastes so good that we’ve started eating it either. Sourdough is easier to digest and more nutritious too.

This is because the lactic acid helps neutralise the phylic acid in the flour making the vitamins and minerals more accessible and the acids give it a lower GI. The combination of these two things means the gluten in the flour is less likely to cause intolerance and after eating sourdough you won’t experience an insulin spike. So if you are keen to eat for a healthy gut this is definitely one step towards that.

Historically sourdough starters where passed down from father to son but thankfully you can very easily make your own. All you need to do is mix together some flour and water and have a bit of patience while it develops. Sourdough is made by cultivating wild yeast. The best thing is you don’t need any fancy equipment to be able to do this as wild yeast is everywhere! There are lots of different ways to make a starter including using pineapple juice – something I haven’t tried but let me know how it goes if you do.

This recipe simply uses flour and water and will take about 10 days until your starter is ready to make a loaf of bread but I promise it really is worth the wait to tuck into a crusty sourdough loaf with it’s distinctive chewy crumb and sourdough taste. A loaf rarely lasts a day or so in this house!

Sourdough Starter
Makes: 400g of starter

Ingredients
100g strong bread flour – wholemeal, white or rye or a mix of all three
100mls warm water2014 03 17_1776

In a large jar mix the flour and the water to make a paste like mixture similar to pva glue in thickness. Cover with a tea towel and leave on a kitchen bench top.

24 hours later feed the sourdough starter another 100g of flour and 100mls water.

24 hours later pour off 200g of starter and feed the sourdough starter another 100g of flour and 100mls water.

Continue to feed the sourdough starter every day for the next week. You will see that there are bubbles starting to form on the surface of your starter and these will increase daily. I warn you it will go through a rather funky and unpleasant stage – I had to apologise to our babysitter for the rather unpleasant aroma in our kitchen! Stick with it this only lasts about 3 days and then it mellows to a sweet, yeasty aroma. This is when you know your starter is ready to bake with. It should look a bit like this with a bubbly surface:2014 04 04_2104

Once the starter is about 10 days old you can keep it in the fridge in an airtight jar using or feeding it a couple of times a week. I tend to leave it out on the bench for 12 hours after feeding the starter before storing in the fridge. If you have been storing your starter in the fridge make sure you take it our 12 hours before baking and refresh it. Pour off 200g and feed it 100g of flour and 100mls water leave it for at least 6 hours before baking.

To save waste I use the 200g I’ve poured off feeding both 200g lots of starter and putting the jar back in the fridge after 12 hours.

Troubleshooting Tips

I have a watery layer on the top of the starter.
Your ratios of water:flour are slightly out. When you next feed your starter simply add slightly more flour than water to rectify the imbalance. Make sure you weigh the ingredients each time. You could always tip off the excess water but I found simply adding a bit extra flour solves the problem.

Nothings happening…
Make sure you mix in the flour thoroughly everyday and keep the jar in a warm spot. It might be worth starting again if you still don’t see any signs of activity.

My starter smells funky or is growing mold
If you are around day 5 this is totally normal and the funky aroma will soon pass. However if your starter goes back to smelling foul or is growing mold it probably isn’t a good idea to use it I would recommending disposing of it and starting again.

What is your favourite sourdough recipe? I’m going to experiment with my extra sourdough starter and pancakes for dessert tonight!

Don’t forget to vote for Freddie’s Food in the Best Australian Blogs People’s Choice Award.

BB2014-PCA-vote

Kate Day x

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One thought on “How to make your own Sourdough Starter

  1. Pingback: Ultimate No-Knead Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Freddie's Food

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