Sourdough for Beginners: How To Start, Feed, And Bake Bread That Will Get You Through

By: RandyYoumans

Sourdough is growing as we wait for this crisis to pass, then bake. Sourdough is a great way to transform flour, water, time, and other ingredients into amazing bread. Now is the best time to try Sourdough starter for yourself. Today, I am launching Sourdough For Beginners with the Kitchn team. This is the ideal place to start a baking adventure. Are you interested?

Why Sourdough and Why Now?

Sourdough baking suddenly feels everywhere. Everybody, from my neighbor to my best friends, has been asking me questions about sourdough baking: How can I start a starter. Is there a way to revive the starter my mom gave me? What happened to my starter of sourdough? It’s a completely understandable feeling. I have been eying the idea of starting a new sourdough starter and it has turned into something I love to do every day. Then there is the fact that dry yeast and fresh bread are currently more difficult to find in grocery stores.

Is sourdough a substitute for yeast?

Yes. It can. Regular yeast is sometimes used in perferments such as the poolish to make croissant dough. Sourdough starter, a preferredment, is an option that can continue to grow and replace what you have. The best thing about sourdough is its ability to be used in conjunction with commercial yeast.

What is the time it takes to make a starter sourdough?

It takes only a few minutes to do the hands-on. Mix flour and water together and let it sit at room temperature. It will find wild yeast in your environment and provide them with a safe and happy place to grow. You will then feed it daily sourdough starter. In 5 to 7 days, it will be ready for baking.

How to start (and feed) a starter sourdough recipe

This is the complete, step-by–step guide for making a starter sourdough from scratch.

How to Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch

This is how you establish a new starter.

Combine equal amounts of flour and water in a clean, reusable container measuring at least 1 quart. Start with 4 ounces of all-purpose flour (3/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons) or 4 ounces water (1/4 Cup). Stir vigorously until smooth.

Allow the starter to rest at room temperature. Place the container in a place that has a constant temperature between 70degF and 75degF for 24hrs. It is best to keep the starter in a warm and dry place. Mine is on the top of our refrigerator.

For approximately 4 days, give the starter more flour and more water. Each day, you will continue to stir the starter with the same amount of water and flour. For more information, refer to our step-by–step recipe. Your starter should be bubbly after a few days.

What container should I use to store my starter?

Any container that can hold this amount of liquid and flour is acceptable. A 1 quart container is required. Glass should be used with care — breakage can cause serious damage to your starter. We love these Cambro containers. They are easy to read and have clear measurements.

What does it mean to “feed” my starter?

The first five days of feeding a starter sourdough sourdough are about bulking up and activating natural yeast. For the first four days, you will add flour to each feed. The fifth day you will switch from adding bulk to throwing away half the starter and feeding the remaining starter. This liquid can be used for small baking projects, such as bread.

Day 5 to 7, follow the same procedure: Throw away half the starter and feed it 4 ounces per pound of each, 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 liter water. It should be kept in a dry, draft-free place.

How can I tell if my starter is ready for use in baking bread?

Your starter will be ready to bake after 5 to 7 days of regular food intake. These are two ways to test the readiness of your starter.

Within 4 hours, it doubles in volume. This is the first time you feed your starter. It should double in volume within four hours.

It passes the “float testing”. The second method is called the “float test”. Add about a tablespoon of starter to a cup of warm water. Starter is ready to bake if it floats.

What if my starter didn’t get bubbly?

It will take at most 3 days for a brand new starter to start showing signs of life. A bubbly surface and a strong sour smell. You may want to move your starter to a warmer place in your kitchen if you don’t see any activity after 4 days. If you notice any pink or orange streaks in your starter, it is likely that the starter is bad. You should throw it out.

Don’t worry if liquid remains on top of your starter for the first few days. Mix the liquids in the starter. Feed as usual. But make sure to feed your starter once a day.