Sourdough Baking

Sourdough baking allows you to use the natural yeasts and activity in the flour. There is nothing more needed for a starter than flour and water plus a jar to keep your starter in.

Sourdough StarterThe Sourdough Starter

When it comes to making a sourdough starter I find it better to use an organic flour with no additives. Once it has taken off I find I can feed it with whatever flour I have around, but to get the starter going organic white bread flour always works best for me.

I use a flip top kilner jar with a piece of toweling under the lid to slightly break the seal. I’ve known people to use an old jar with a loosely fitted lid or a jar with a muslin or towel tied loosely over the top. It means you can just use an old jam jar so you don’t even need to buy any equipment!

If you know someone with a developed sourdough starter it is worth asking them if you can have a little bit of it. This means you can get yours going sooner, but if you can’t get hold of one it is super simple to start yourself – it just requires a little patience.

Making Your Sourdough Starter

Day 1:

2oz flour & 2oz water

Mix the two together in your jar. It should be a thick paste. Cover the jar and leave in a warm place (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for 24 hours. If too warm the starter will mature too fast, too cold and it will take longer for the natural yeasts to become active.

Day 2:

2oz flour & 2oz water

Mix a further 2oz each of flour and water into your existing starter. It may have started bubbling already, but if not don’t panic as it can take 3 or 4 days for activity to start. Again leave for 24 hours.

Day 3:

2oz flour & 2oz water

You will likely see some bubbling around the sides of the jar today. The natural yeasts will be developing, and although not mature enough to bake with just yet, they are nearly there! Stir in your flour and water and leave again for 24 hours

Day 4:

2oz flour & 2oz water

Now you should be getting there. As well as the bubbles on the side there should be obvious activity looking down on the starter. Lots of bubbles and a more “sour” smell. Add in the flour and water and again leave on the side for 24 hours.

Day 5:

We are ready for action! Your starter should now be ready to use. It will smell sour and vinegary and be very bubbly throughout. If you don’t want to use your starter today just continue feeding as you have the past 4 days – 2oz flour and 2oz water – but it is now full of yeasts and ready to bake with.

Too Much Starter?

Often those who use sourdough starters, but don’t bake daily, find they have too much starter and need to discard some lest their jar overflow! The discard can be used in other recipes and need not go to waste. A favourite here is sourdough pancakes served with a berry and pear sauce.

Recipes Using Flour