Sourdough Starter Basics

To make a sourdough, mix equal weights (100g is fine) of flour and water in an  bowl and leave uncovered for an hour or two. Place the mixture into a loose lidded jar and wait until bubbles start to form. Feed daily (such as is written below) until you have a nice healthy active starter.

To feed a sour dough, Try and sustain double the amount you use in your recipe (basic one below) at all times – in this case it is around 500g. To feed, pour out 250g (use it to make bread or throw it away), and replace the lost weight with equal amounts of flour and water – that’s 125g each of flour and water. Keep in the fridge and feed once or twice a week (Obviously easiest to do this on the days you take some to make bread).

For all bread recipes, replace each 7g packet of yeast with a cup (or about 250 grams) of active sourdough starter. Adjust the recipe to accommodate for the water and flour in the starter – that’s 125g of each if you are using the equal weight feeding regime.

The basic bread recipe (500g flour, 325g water, 20g salt)

  1. Blend 250g of the starter (from the fridge) with all the water needed in the final recipe (so for this recipe you would need to add an additional 175ml water).
  2. Add the same amount of flour (175g) and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. In the morning knock back the dough, knead in the remaining flour from the recipe (200g) and shape to form a loaf. Kneading and shaping is essential for a wet dough like a sourdough as you need to be sure it will hold its shape and not just become a flat pancake. Kneading by hand allows you to be more sure when the time is right to stop – I like to give it 10 mins in the food mixer with bread hook and then another few by hand.
  4. Allow to rise again for a few hours until at least doubled in size – Don’t rush it or it will be too dense. With sourdough it is better to over-proof than under.
  5. Coat a razor blade in oil and make a substantial slice down the middle of the bread before putting it in the oven.
  6. Cook on very high (220+) for 10 mins to get an initial strong rise, reduce the heat and cook at 180 for another 35 mins


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