Introduction to Breadmaking (Part 1)

Sourdough Starter

There is a lot of mystery when it comes to sourdoughs, and making sourdough bread has become a fashion thing. Every starter recipe you look up seems slightly different, so I’m sharing what is working for us, and a few thoughts on what to do if it doesn’t work.

We keep our sourdough in flip-top kilner jars on the kitchen counter. Our kitchen is draughty, and where they normally sit it’s about 18C. If your kitchen is warmer or colder your starter will behave differently – warmer will make it livelier, and colder quieter. We feed it the day before we bake, and because we bake regularly this sustains our starters well. I say ‘starters’, plural, because we have a white and a wholemeal one. We use the wholemeal one more regularly and the white one about once a week – when not in use they sit on the counter until we feed them again, and they seem happy with this and always respond well to being fed. 

There are different ways of making a sourdough starter from scratch. Here is our version:

Once a day add 100g bread flour and 100g lukewarm water to your  jar. Mix with a spoon, close the lid, and leave to do its thing. Do this for several days – 5-7, depending on the size of your jar – and by the end of that period your starter should be nice and bubbly. It’ll be ready to bake with then, so if you’d like to start baking bread with us next week then now is an excellent time to set up your starter. It is up to you whether you use white or wholemeal flour, but the bread we’ll be making next uses white, so it might be an idea to use that for your starter, too. Each loaf of that will take 350g of flour, so a 1kg pack should just about do your starter and the first loaf.

If your starter is not showing any signs of bubbling I’d suggest trying out two things: 1. move it to a warmer location; 2. leave the lid open for a day. Possibly while say in a bowl in case it gets carried away and explodes all over your counter!

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