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Sourdough Starter

Last year, making a sourdough starter was a hot trend on the “interwebs.” I tried making one without success.  I was about to give up on the idea when I came across this version. It is from the King Arthur Flour website. It worked very well!  What I like about the sourdough starter is that it gives you a base to make an endless amount of things. I’ve made bread and pancakes with mine, and I’ve seen recipes for some interesting desserts.  (Chocolate bread?!?!?) All of that said, having a sourdough starter at the ready will give you the option of making a variety of things quite easily.  It’s well worth it!

Ingredients

To begin starter:

4 oz. (1 cup) organic whole wheat flour
4 oz. (1/2 cup) cool non-chlorinated water (bottled water is non-chlorinated)

To feed starter (every time you feed the starter, you will use the ingredients and instructions below):

4 oz. (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 oz. (1/2 cup) cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)

Special Equipment (Optional)

Digital scale

Container for starter

Instructions

Day 1: Combine the whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this.

Stir everything together thoroughly. Make sure there’s no dry flour in the mixture.

Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at a warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See “tips”  below for advice about growing starters in a cold house.

Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half of the starter (4 ounces, about 1/2 cup) and feed the starter (see Ingredients above). Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.

Tip: One trick I read about was quite helpful. If you set your starter on a dish towel placed over a heating pad set on low, your starter’s temperature will remain in the 70’s. Since I was doing this in winter and our house was chilly, I tried this. Our heating pad kept the starter at exactly 80 degrees (see below).

Day 3: By the third day, you’ll likely see some activity, i.e., bubbling, fresh fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It’s now time to begin two feedings daily. These feedings should be as evenly spaced out as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 4 ounces of starter and add 4 ounces of all-purpose flour and 4 ounces of water.

Day 4 to Day ?: Continue twice a day feedings until the starter doubles in size between feedings.  How long will it take?  Who knows? Mine took until day 10.  For me, up until day 10, there really was no “growth” in the starter between feedings.  (The black mark on the measuring cup below shows the growth I had at day 10.)

Once you do get this doubling, feed the starter one last time and let it rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours. (At this point, my starter more than doubled.) Now is decision time.  You can let the starter “live” at room temperature, but you will have to feed it every day, or you can store it in the refrigerator, where you will feed it once a week. I opted for once a week.  If you pick that option, transfer 4 ounces of starter to its permanent home and feed it.  Then, feed the starter once a week.

Using the Starter:

If your starter has been refrigerated, you’ll want to both increase its volume and raise its activity before you use it to make bread. You can do this by giving it a couple of feedings at room temperature. To do this, take the starter out of the fridge, discard all but 4 ounces, and feed it as usual with 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of flour. Let it rest at room temperature for about 12 hours, or until bubbly. Repeat as necessary, every 12 hours, until you notice the starter doubling or tripling in volume in 6 to 8 hours. This means that it’s strong enough to leaven bread.

If you need more than 1 cup of starter, feed it with 8 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of water instead of the usual 4 ounces above.  This will give you more starter to use since you always need at least 4 ounces left over to keep your starter “alive.”  Just make sure the container you use is large enough to hold the starter when it doubles (or triples) in volume.

You can also use the discarded starter to make many tasty recipes, like pancakes!

Sourdough Starter
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Goods
 
Last year, making a sourdough starter was a hot trend on the "interwebs." I tried making one without success. I was about to give up on the idea when I came across this version. It is from the King Arthur Flour website. It worked very well! What I like about the sourdough starter is that it gives you a base to make an endless amount of things. I've made bread and pancakes with mine, and I've seen recipes for some interesting desserts. (Chocolate bread?!?!?) All of that said, having a sourdough starter at the ready will give you the option of making a variety of things quite easily. It's well worth it!
Ingredients
  • To begin starter:
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) organic whole wheat flour
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) cool non-chlorinated water (bottled water is non-chlorinated)
  • To feed starter (every time you feed the starter, you will use the ingredients and instructions below):
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)
  • Special Equipment (Optional)
  • Digital scale
Instructions
  1. Day 1: Combine the whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this.
  2. Stir everything together thoroughly. Make sure there's no dry flour in the mixture.
  3. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at a warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See "tips" below for advice about growing starters in a cold house.
  4. Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half of the starter (4 ounces, about ½ cup) and feed the starter (see Ingredients above). Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. Tip: One trick I read about was quite helpful. If you set your starter on a dish towel placed over a heating pad set on low, your starter's temperature will remain in the 70's. Since I was doing this in winter and our house was chilly, I tried this. Our heating pad kept the starter at exactly 80 degrees (see below).
  6. Day 3: By the third day, you'll likely see some activity, i.e., bubbling, fresh fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It's now time to begin two feedings daily. These feedings should be as evenly spaced out as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 4 ounces of starter and add 4 ounces of A.P. flour and 4 ounces of water.
  7. Day 4 to Day ?: Continue twice a day feedings until the starter doubles in size between feedings. How long will it take? Who knows? Mine took until day 10. For me, up until day 10, there really was no "growth" in the starter between feedings. (The black mark on the measuring cup below shows the growth I had at day 10.)
  8. Once you do get this doubling, feed the starter one last time and let it rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours. (At this point, my starter more than doubled.) Now is decision time. You can let the starter "live" at room temperature, but you will have to feed it every day, or you can store it in the refrigerator, where you will feed it once a week. I opted for once a week. If you pick that option, transfer 4 ounces of starter to its permanent home and feed it. Then, feed the starter once a week.
  9. Using the Starter:
  10. If your starter has been refrigerated, you’ll want to both increase its volume and raise its activity before you use it to make bread. You can do this by giving it a couple of feedings at room temperature. To do this, take the starter out of the fridge, discard all but 4 ounces, and feed it as usual with 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of flour. Let it rest at room temperature for about 12 hours, or until bubbly. Repeat as necessary, every 12 hours, until you notice the starter doubling or tripling in volume in 6 to 8 hours. This means that it’s strong enough to leaven bread. Here is my first attempt at a No-Knead Sourdough Bread!
  11. If you need more than 1 cup of starter, feed it with 8 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of water instead of the usual 4 ounces above. This will give you more starter to use since you always need at least 4 ounces left over to keep your starter "alive." Just make sure the container you use is large enough to hold the starter when it doubles (or triples) in volume.
  12. You can also use the discarded starter to make many tasty recipes, like pancakes!
 

About Daddy

I am a husband and a father of two kids with whom I love to cook and eat. In this blog, I hope to share with you not only some of my, as well as my family’s, favorite recipes, but also some interesting things I have learned or done as a husband, father, and cook.

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