Sourdough 101: How to Make, Maintain and Bake with a Sourdough Starter

brown breads on wooden table

Sourdough bread is a type of bread that uses a natural yeast and lactobacilli culture, called a sourdough starter, instead of commercial yeast. It has a tangy, complex flavor and a chewy texture that makes it a popular choice among bread lovers. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of sourdough bread making, including how to make, maintain, and bake with a sourdough starter.

Making a Sourdough Starter:

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Obtain a small amount of wild yeast and lactobacilli from the air, flour, and water.

Combine equal parts flour and water (e.g. 100g each) in a large bowl and mix until well combined.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and place it in a warm, draft-free area.

Repeat the process of adding equal parts flour and water every 12-24 hours for several days, until the mixture becomes visibly bubbly and has a sour aroma.

Once the starter is active and robust, use a portion of it to bake with, and store the remaining in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Maintaining a Sourdough Starter:

clear glass jar with green liquid Photo by Margaret Jaszowska on Unsplash[/caption]

Feed your starter equal parts flour and water every 12-24 hours to keep it active.

Use a portion of the starter for baking, and store the remaining in the refrigerator.

If not using the starter for an extended period of time, give it a weekly feeding to keep it alive.

If the starter becomes too sour or develops a strong alcohol smell, discard a portion of it and give it a fresh feeding.

Baking with a Sourdough Starter: 

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Remove the starter from the refrigerator and give it several hours before you plan to bake.

Combine the fed starter with flour and water to make a dough.

Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, then let it rise until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven and bake the bread at a high temperature (450-500°F) for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

In conclusion, making sourdough bread is a simple but time-consuming process that yields delicious and nutritious bread. By following these basic steps, you’ll be able to make, maintain, and bake with a sourdough starter with confidence. Happy baking!