Sourdough Starter

It is “Real Bread Week” boys and girls! Folks in the UK are taking part in a week of awareness to support and celebrate real bread bakeries and baking your own. We don’t live in the UK but we are taking part on this side of the pond as this is a cause close to my heart.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to have some very talented bakers in my life. Both, my grandmother and my father were prolific bread bakers. A fresh slice of brown bread slathered with peanut butter is my happy place.  While the recipes may be different and the shape and texture of the loaves may very, bread is cross-cultural. Unfortunately, it can be difficult these days depending on where you live to find “real” bread, that is; bread that is free from unnecessary additives.IMG_1942

I recently started a journey to perfect the art of sourdough. I took me a few attempts to get my starter going well. It took me even longer to find a recipe and baking method that provided reliable results. The challenge drew me in, but it soon became an obsession. I couldn’t stop until I nailed it. While there is always room for improvement, I am now producing reliable loaves of delicious bread and I feel like I have a super power.  I make amazing bread from almost nothing but flour and water! Crazy right?

Take the real bread challenge and bake your own bread! The feeling of accomplishment is worth it alone. And your body will thank you for the reprieve from artificial leaveners, bleaches, and preservatives.

Sourdough can be a fickle creature, and it is a creature. Well… creatures. Your starter will be a living colony of wild yeast and healthy bacteria. You don’t need any fancy equipment, I recommend starting your starter in a quart sized mason jar or well washed pickle jar. My established starter, which I have named “Fat Albert”, now lives in an old jam jar. To keep Albert happy, I use only wooden and glass utensils. Sourdough starter is acidic and may react with your stainless steel utensils effecting your outcomes. Wild yeast is much more delicate than dry commercial yeasts. Use room temperature filtered water. I use tap water which has been fully boiled and then cooled.

Give this sourdough starter a try, and come back friday when we will post an easy sourdough bread recipe. Fresh bread for the weekend! You’ve got nothing to lose!

Sourdough Starter

This starter takes approximately 5 days to prepare, and with proper care can last forever!

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Unbleached Flour
2 Cups Water
2 Grapes (Optional)

Directions:

  • Day1
    • In a glass jar combine ½ cup (125g) of water and (1cup less 1tbsp) (125g) of flour.
    • To help kick start yeast growth, you may add two grapes to the jar. Gently squish with the heel of your hand and add to the jar.
    • Mix vigorously.
    • Place the jar, uncovered in a relatively warm place free from drafts.
    • Let sit over night.IMG_1941
  • Day 2
    • In the morning, remove the grapes (If added) and add 2 tbsps. of flour and one 1tbsp of water to the jar.
    • Mix vigorously.
    • Repeat, in the evening.
  • Day 3
    • Bubbles may be visible on the surface of the mixture. This is good. If no bubbles are visible, don’t worry it is still early.
    • Feed the starter as in day 2.img_0304
  • Day 4 and 5
    • By now, bubbles should be visible. Continue to feed the starter as per days 2 and 3.
    • When the starter begins to grow and can double in size between feedings it is active.
  • When the starter becomes active, increase the feedings.
    • Allow the starter to double, add 2 tbsps. of flour and one 1tbsp of water to the jar, mix vigorously.
    • The starter will deflate after mixing. Allow it to double again, and then add 2 tbsps. of flour and one 1tbsp of water to the jar, mix vigorously.
    • By the third time the starter has doubled itself it is ready to use.
  • Mix the starter, and remove half of the quantity.
  • Use the half of the mixture you have removed to bake with, or discard.
  • Feed the starter remaining in the jar with 2 tbsps. of flour and one 1tbsp of water, mix vigorously, and let sit until it begins to rise.
    • You may now put the lid on the jar and store the starter in the refrigerator.
  • Once a week, remove the starter from the fridge, let come to room temperature and then feed the starter with 2 tbsps. of flour and one 1tbsp of water.
  • If you plan to bake with the starter, remove it from the fridge the evening before, feed it with 2 tbsp. of flour and one 1tbsp of water, feed with the same quantity again later that night after it has risen, and let sit over night. In the morning feed it again with the same quantities of flour and water. When the starter has doubled, stir it and remove the require quantity. Feed the remaining starter, let it begin to rise in the jar, replace the lid and return to the fridge until it is next needed.
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