Hi, I'm Hannah, and like the rest of the world, I've recently become obsessed with baking sourdough bread at home.
In order to make sourdough bread, you need a starter (aka a wild yeast cultivation used for homemade baking) You can get some starter from a friend, ask a local bakery if they'll give a bit of theirs, or, most rewarding of all, you can make it yourself.
I read dozens and dozens of food blogs to learn how to make my own starter, but the process seemed very daunting and complicated. After about two weeks of experimenting in my kitchen, I've realized that making sourdough starter at home is actually a pretty straightforward process. With a little patience, anyone can do it. Here's exactly how.
To get started, you'll need flour, water, and a kitchen scale. I found much more success making a starter with a mixture of all purpose white and whole wheat flour than with solely white flour.
The first step is to mix 50g whole wheat flour, 50g white AP flour, and 100g water. Using a small silicone spatula or a fork, mix the flour and water in a glass bowl or mason jar until combined. Make sure there are no dry spots. This is day one.
Cover the bowl or mason jar with a dish towel and leave it in a warm part of your kitchen. Stir it twice per day to aerate and prevent bacteria from forming.
Each day for the next five to seven days, you'll have to feed your starter. Discard 80% of the existing starter and add 50g whole wheat flour, 50g white AP flour, and 100g lukewarm, filtered water to the remaining 20%. Stir it well so all the flour is combined. Try to feed your starter around the same time every day if possible.
By day two or three, you should begin to see little bubbles forming on the top and sides of the sourdough starter. That means it's coming to life, which is exactly what you want. If you're not seeing bubbles, try moving your starter to a warmer spot in your kitchen.
Around day six or seven, start watching to see how your starter is rising and falling after you feed it. Using tape or a rubber band, mark your starter's height on the container. Wait for four hours and take another peek. If the starter has doubled in height, it's ready to bake with.
Here's what my sourdough starter looked like when it was ready to bake with!
Now, it's time to bake! All sourdough recipes call for a leaven, which is basically a certain amount of your sourdough starter plus more flour and water.
It sounds like a time-consuming process, but in reality it only requires 10 minutes of work per day to develop a mature starter. And it will all be worth it once you slice into your first loaf of homemade, crispy, steamy sourdough bread.
Whatever you do, hold onto your sourdough discard and you'll have starter (and homemade sourdough bread) for life. If you're baking constantly, keep it on the countertop and feed it once per day. If you're only baking once in a while, keep your starter in an airtight container in the fridge and feed it just once per week.