Sour Dough Starter
The king of bread in texture and taste, and also, where everyone falls on their face. So, take note, take care, with a little help from us you will cut down the learning curve quite a lot, so let’s have some fun! You will need a scale, measuring cup and have a couple of mason jars; I use the ones with the hinge lock they have a nice O ring seal that you can fold down giving it just a little air when you are fermenting and when needing to refrigerate a good solid seal with its lockdown.
How to make a Starter
You will need to make a starter from scratch, it is not hard, there are lots of recipes for this and there are different types of starters as well. We are however are sticking with the basics. First off what is a starter; a starter is a naturally fermented yeast made from your fermenting flour. You should always use premium fresh organic flour, with a protein count of at least eleven per cent, this will help in the fermenting and end product; you can generally find this on the millers packaging or web site; the flour will be advertised as excellent for bread making (that’s all you need).
Here is a recipe I started with, make sure to mix well ensuring all flour is dissolved in water and you have a nice paste. This recipe starts off using 150% hydration, that will aid to your success in developing an active starter as high hydration helps in forming enzymes needed to form a healthy yeast.
- Day one, mix 50 gm stone-ground rye w/50 gm organic white add 150 gm water at 28 degrees
- Day two, discard 150 gm add 50 gm stone-ground rye w/50 gm organic white & add 115 gm water at 28 degrees
- Day three, discard 150 gm & add 50 gm stone-ground rye w/50 gm organic white & add 115 gm water at 28 degrees
- Day four, discard 150 gm & add 50 gm stone-ground rye w/50 gm organic white & add 100 gm water at 28 degrees
- Continue on with day four schedule until you have a frothy, bubbly mixture of flour this can take 6 – 14 days depending on your climate. Try to keep in a warm area of kitchen flour temperature should be between 23 -28 degrees to be actively fermenting.
- After you have a frothy mixture for a few days it should smell a little like yoghurt
- Now that you have an active starter you can refresh going forward (use a clean container) with 25 gm starter 80 gm organic white & 20 gm rye add 100 gm water at 28 degrees.
- Once your new starter has reached its frothing peak you can stick it in the fridge and refresh once a week.
- Now from your starter, you make your leaven, Yes! There is another step ?
What is Leaven
Leaven is just a fresh batch from your starter used for the yeast in your sourdough recipe. You will use this at the height of its fermentation; depending on where you are this could take 4 -12 hours. When the mixture has doubled in size and is quite bubbly it should be close to being ready. I always make sure my leaven is ready by adding a little to some water if it floats, it’s ready to use, and should be used soon, as natural yeast unlike bakers or instant does not have a long life. I always start my leaven off a fresh batch of starter.
- Mix 25 gm starter, 20 gm rye 80 gm white & 90 gm water
- let rise, usually goes close to the top of a mason jar
- To test readiness take a small amount out with fork or knife and drop in water, it will float in water when the starter is ready!
Now you’re ready to Make Sour Dough Bread!
Proper Care and maintenance of your Mother (starter)
It is important to keep your starter fresh so once you have developed a healthy starter, to keep it that way means to keep it well feed; and unless you are baking every day, you’re going to have to slow its development by putting the starter in the fridge after it has frothed up.
Twice a week take your starter out and discard a 100gms replace with 50 of flour and 50 of water. I use 20% rye and 80% white. Leave out on the counter until it froths up nicely more than doubling in size, then place back in the fridge. Every few weeks start with a clean container and start fresh, using 25 gm starter, 100 gm flour & 100 gms water.
Note: When making a leaven or refreshing starter, it’s ok to add water out of the fridge it just takes a little longer to develop & unless you are in a rush, don’t worry about adding the correct temperature of the water, make it work for the yeast development. When drawing from starter to make a batch of bread add what you took out in equal parts of water and flour, let stand for an hour and place back in the refrigerator.