Homemade Sourdough Starter for beginners
You gotta start somewhere, right? So how do you make sourdough and what makes it sour?
Obviously, this is not a true sourdough but it is a start. It has a wonderful deep golden brown crust and it has the welcoming aroma of sourdough, just like you would buy in a fresh bakery. What makes it different is the texture on the inside and the strength of it’s aroma and taste. True sourdough has lots of nooks and crannies and holes like a richly aged Swiss cheese and it has a very distinct aroma and flavor.
For those of us who are new to the world of sourdough, this is a good place to start and I am pretty darn proud of it.
Sourdough is a fermented, living organism to start off with. For the real deal, you’ll need to order a culture from a source that supplies starters, such as kingauthur.com. But, since I’m not quite ready to commit to the expertise of making sourdough and I have a lot to learn about it, we can make our own faux culture to get a feel for things. In my line of business, practice is always a good thing!
So, to make your own starter you’ll need to ferment some flour, water and yeast. You’ll want to be sure you do not use anything that has metal in it, as the mixture will react. Use a glass bowl and wooden spoon to be on the safe side.
You’ll cover the mixture and let it sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Marking the time on it is a good idea.
You’ll give the mixture a stir after the first day and then cover it again.
The mixture will need to sit in a warm place like this for 3-5 days. You’ll stir it once a day and recover.
You’ll notice a sour smell and it will begin to look bubbly. That’s a good thing because it means your starter is alive and well. Now, if you notice that it smells like funk or becomes gray or moldy, you will need to pitch it and start over. You don’t want anything that has gone rotten. The best way I can think of to describe the smell is to think of cherries.
Once the mixture starts to look like it’s settling, you put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it for your bread. When you do use it, you can replenish the starter to keep it on hand for the next time you want to make the bread. Just add equal amounts of water and flour to it. For instance, if you use 1 and 1/4 cups of the starter for your bread, like in our recipe here, you’ll add 1 and 1/4 cups of water and 1 and 1/4 cups of flour to the original bowl. Stir that in and allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for 3 to 5 hours before placing back in the refrigerator to store.
Like most breads, you’ll gather your ingredients and mix them together. You’ll be using part of your starter as a portion of the liquid that goes into the mixture.
Rather than kneading the dough, you’ll simply fold it over itself several times in both directions. You can lightly flour your hands and the surface your working on but do so very sparingly. Brush off any excess flour when your finished folding the dough.
Allow the dough to rise in a well oiled bowl for one hour, covered and in a warm place.
After the dough has doubled, you’ll take it out and re-stretch it, folding it over in both directions as before. Shape the dough into a ball and place onto baking stone that is lightly dusted with either corn meal or semolina flour. Slice an X across the top and cover with a towel. Allow it to rise again for one hour.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. and bake the bread for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 400 degrees F. and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes. It should be a very deep golden brown on the outside and sound hollow when tapped.
I didn’t get the Swiss cheese looking holes in the inside of my bread but I did get a great tasting and looking finished product. Not bad for a first try, eh?
This kind of experimenting is perfect for a first timer and I am encouraged to move on to the next level, buying a real starter. You can bet your booty I’ll be sharing that with you fine foodie folks when I do.
If you’ve always wanted to try making sourdough but didn’t know where to start, this is a great recipe to practice with. And who doesn’t like freshly baked bread or experimenting with making your own culture?
I hope you’ll give it a try and if you do, I’d love to hear how it goes. You know where to find me. 😉
Make it a fabulous day and as always, keep it delicious!
Till next time ~ much love, Connie
Sour Dough Starter and Bread
- Sourdough Starter:
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 2 C warm water 107 degrees F.
- 2 C all purpose flour
- Sourdough Bread:
- 1 1/4 C sourdough starter
- 3/4 C warm water 107 degrees F.
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 C bread flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 3/4 tsp dry active yeast
- corn meal or semolina flour to coat the baking stone
- Sourdough Starter:
- Combine all ingredients well in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon. Do not use anything metal.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir and cover again, allowing the starter to sit in a warm place for 3 to 5 days. Stir once a day. The mixture will begin to smell sour (like cherries) and bubble. When the starter begins to settle, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Sourdough Bread:
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over itself in each direction. Oil the bowl and place the dough in to double in size for one hour. Cover with plastic and place in a warm area.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over itself in both directions and shape in to a ball.
- Cut an X across the top. Place on a baking stone, lightly dusted with corn flour or semolina flour.
- Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Bake the bread in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 400 degrees F. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the outside crust is deeply golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
- Allow to cool before slicing and serving.