One of the breads I like the most is Sourdough. True you have to make a starter and keep up with it, but nothing compares to the crusty loaf of bread, or other baked goods you can make with the starter. It has so much flavor. On the whole, I am not a fan of white breads. I think they have little to offer, but sourdough is a whole other animal. It is definitely worth the effort. The starter is really easy to make. I use pretty much the same starter recipe that you will find on any website. Once I have it going, I keep mine in the fridge and that cuts down on feeding it. There is so much you can make with the starter and if you are like me and hate waste, you will find so much to use your daily discard for – crackers, waffles, biscuits and so much more.
1 cup whole wheat flour – you must have the benefits of the whole wheat – do not try to use white flour for the beginner
1/2 cup room temperature water – this should not be tap water. Many city/country water systems use chlorine and other chemicals in their water. These chemicals can retard the natural growth of the beneficial bacteria you will need to start your sourdough starter.
This starter takes several days. On the first day combine the flour and the water. I suggest that you use a container that will not react to chemical reactions. I usually use a small crock with loose lid or a quart size mason jar with plastic wrap over it. Stir everything together and make sure that all the flour is incorporated. Loosely cover and let the mixture sit at room temperature. If the room is chilly, find a place that is warm to sit the container in. Let the starter sit for at least 24 hours. After the first 24 hours discard half of the starter – this will be about 1/2 cup. You may see some bubbling or may not see any change at all. It’s okay, some starters are faster than others. After you discard half of the starter, add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of room temperature water. Again do not use tap water. Stir well and make sure all of the flour is incorporated. Lightly cover and let sit for another 24 hours. On the third day you should see some bubbling and the starter should look like it has grown. Stir the starter and remove about 1/2 cup. This is where I differ from many people who use sour dough – I do not throw away the rest of the starter. I put it to one side and use it for baking. I will be adding recipes for that. Take the 1/2 cup that you saved and add to it, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup room temperature water. Stir it down and make sure all the flour is incorporated. Let sit for 12 hours. I usually do this in the morning and do the second feeding in the evening. That night (12 hours later) add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water. On the fourth day do the same thing – add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water. Let sit for 12 hours and do the same again. On the fifth day do the same. Add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water and let sit for 12 hours, then do it again. At the end of the fifth day your starter should have doubled and should have lots of bubbles and you will start to smell that wonderful sour dough smell. You will need to give it one last feeding. Let it sit for about 8 hours. Then when you are ready to make your bread, remove about a cup of the starter for the bread and put the rest into whatever container you want to keep it in and store it in the refrigerator. You will need to feed it weekly by adding 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.