Sourdough starter: how to make it form scratch

Want to know more about baking with sourdough starter? you’re in the right place!

The recipe for a sourdough starter is pretty much the same all over the world. But did you know that type of yeast and bacteria that will develop inside the starter may vary? and that happens from house to house, and different countries may have different predominant strains.

When I first started using a sourdough starter, I wasn’t exactly pumped with the result, it took me a while to realize that since it was alive, it needed to be pampered, nurtured and monitored consistently. As a result I was worried this would have ended up in a time consuming process and that I would gave up in a short period of time.

Luckily it was the opposite! I learned how to use and maintain the sourdough starter and now I actually use it for a lot of recipes!!!

Italian sourdough starter

I made my sourdough starter at home, several years ago, starting with whole wheat flour and water, and after a few days I started to refresh it. Even though it takes months for the yeast to develop the necessary strength to get leavened products like brioche, the bread comes out great right away and for those who want to experiment, the recipe is very very simple.

Sourdough starter: liquid vs solid

There are two types of sourdough: the liquid and the solid sourdough. They are the same thing, yield the same results but varies in the way and timing you need to feed them.

Sourdough starter

The liquid sourdough starter is more versatile, it actually needs less time and can be fed even once every 5/7 days. This is perfect for people who do not have a lot of time to feed the starter but want to have a good sourdough always available.

The solid sourdough starter is for many people the way to go, but actually is perfect if you bake almost every day at least twice a week if more. This is mainly used in bakeries, and is fed everyday. If you are a home cook and bake once a week this can be a pain to care for.

Personally I have kept both for a long time and at time it was really time consuming. The solid sourdough can easily become weak or acid if you do not feed it often enough, whereas the liquid one is easier to care for.

The only downside of feeding the starter once a week is that when you need it to bake a very rich dough like brioche you might want to feed it at least two or three times before using it to make sure it can sustain the fat in the dough.

Other than that I must say I now keep only the liquid one, it takes two minutes to feed, no need to use your hands and clean afterwards.

How to make your sourdough stater from scratch

Ingredients

200gr of whole-wheat or spelt flour
100gr water

Method

Step 1
Mix the ingredients until smooth, place in a tall, narrow glass jar or container and close with a lid.
Leave at room temperature (preferably above 20°) for 48h.

Step 2
After 48h you should start to see the fermentation bubbles (if nothing has changed move the jar to a warmer place for other 12h).
When you see the bubble it’s time to start the feeding process. Discard half of the dough and feed the rest by mixing it with 100gr of whole wheat flour and 60gr of water, and again set aside to rest for an additional 48h.

Step 3

Proceed with the feeding process for at least 3 to 4 times until the dough doubles in volume in about 8h.
At this point the sourdough starter is ready and you can use it to make bread or pizza. If you are not going to use it right away, store it the refrigerator until you need to bake.

Sourdough starter feeding

When the starter is ready you can keep it the fridge and feed it before using it. The ratio varies depending on the type of sourdough you have:
Liquid sourdough: 100gr of starter, 100gr of water, 100gr of all purpose flour
Solid sourdough: 100gr of starter, 50gr water, 100gr all purpose flour.

If you need to use the dough you can put half of the sourdough starter in a bowl, feed it using the ingredients mentioned above and keep it at room temperature until doubled in size. Do the same with the remaining starter and put in the fridge.

If you are not going to use the starter,  you can discard a small part of it and add the water and flour, mix and put back in the fridge. The piece of starter you discard can be used to make a lot of recipes, you can use it in sweets, cookies, you can make flatbread with it or crackers.

Sourdough starter: tips and tricks

  • When you feed the dough for storing it, use all purpose flour, it will slow down the fermentation and the sourdough will keep longer
  • In the first couple of months I strongly recommend to feed the dough at least three times a week.
  • If you see that the starter is not strong enough the first two or three times, add a small amount of dried yeast.
  • If you live in a cold place, start fermenting your sourdough starter in the summer. It will take less than 1 week to get to the right level of fermentation.

Now let’s bake some amazing bread!!

 

 

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