This is a slighlty modified version on my bread recipe, tweaked over a whole quarantine-worth of breadbaking. The main changes are timing of the rise cycles and the cooking temperature and times. As always though, you’ll be best suited by experimenting and learning how your particular sourdough reacts. The original post is here.
There are all sorts of ways to create your own starter from scratch. A quick internet search will serve you better than I can. The easiest way though - and the path I took - was simply getting a bit of someone else’s culture.
Starter must be fed regularly to stay healthy. If kept at room temperature, starter must be fed roughly every 12 hours. If kept in the fridge, the starter can go up to two weeks between feedings.
To feed, mix 1 part all-purpose flour, 1 part warm water to the starter. If you’ve kept the starter in the fridge, it might have developed a thin liquid layer on top called hooch. Don’t worry about it, just stir it in.
To prepare starter for baking, add in the amount of flour and water you will need and stir 4-8 hours before you plan on using it. So, if you need 1 cup of starter to bake bread that evening, add in ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water to your starter in the morning.
- 1 cup of starter
- 3 cups of bread flour
- ~1 ½ cup of water
- 1 tbsp salt
- Optional nuts and dried fruits
Roughly mix 1 cup of starter, 3 cups of bread flour, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 cup of water in a bowl. Slowly add in a bit of water until mixture is shaggy and damp, but not wet. It should stick to the bowl, but be firm enough to knead. Be careful because you can easily add too much water and the dough will be too wet. Add more flour if that happens. You’ll learn to tell just how much water you need. More water means bigger bubbles but harder to manipulate.
Let dough sit for 30 to 60 minutes. This is the autolyse step, and simply lets the flour absorb the moisture, the yeast digest the gluten, making the dough easier to work with.
Knead vigorously for approximately 10 minutes (different techniques for kneading – look up a video for what feels comfortable). Dough should stick ever so slightly to the work surface by the end, but surface should bounce back when you press it with your finger. You can also do the windowpane test to determine if the glutens are strong enough.
Optional - you can fold in nuts or dried fruits or herbs or anything that you fancy after the kneading step. I like walnuts and cranberries. Knead the dough gently to get the incredients well dispersed.
Place ball in a large bowl and let sit for 3 to 4 hours. If you’re home is cold, consider putting the bowl in your turned-off oven with the oven light on.
After the rise is complete, remove dough from container (you might need to scrape it out) and fold it over itself, reshaping the ball. Generously coat the dough in flour and place in a proofing bowl. You can place the dough in a dishtowel, then in a large bowl if you don’t have one. Place in fridge overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Remove dough from fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 430F and place Dutch oven inside. When the oven is hot, remove Dutch oven, score your dough, place it inside the Dutch oven, cover, and place back in oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the Dutch oven lid. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and let cool on a cooling rack.
Experiment with recipes, with feeding your starter different flours, different kneading techniques, rising for longer or shorter, higher or lower baking temperatures. Try sourdough pancakes or biscuits. I found the youtube video “A Non-Baker’s Guide To Making Sourdough Bread” to be helpful.