We began a sourdough bread journey Tuesday, May 19. We bake a great deal here but have never made sourdough bread. Years ago I was given a starter for friendship bread but didn’t really know about it or how to keep it alive and growing. Now, these many years forward I’m giving it a try.
Yeast is a wonderful living organism that has served as a leavening agent for bread for thousands of years. “Yeast is a single-cell organism, calledSaccharomyces cerevisiae, which needs food, warmth, and moisture to thrive. It converts its food—sugar and starch—through fermentation, into carbon dioxide and alcohol. It's the carbon dioxide that makes baked goods rise.” (The Spruce)
So what is sourdough? According to BBC Good Food, “Sourdough is naturally leavened bread, which means it doesn’t use commercial yeast to rise. Instead, it uses a ‘starter’ – a fermented flour and water mixture that contains wild yeast and good bacteria – to rise. This also produces the tangy flavour and slightly chewy texture you’ll find in sourdough. Wild yeast has more flavour than commercial yeast, and is natural in the sense that it doesn’t contain any additives”.
I’m following the instructions from the article How To Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch by Emma Christensen found at thekitch.com. I’m up to day two and invite you to join the journey.
All-purpose flour (or a mix of all-purpose and whole grain flour)
Water, preferably filtered
2-quart glass or plastic container (not metal)
Scale (highly recommended) or measuring cups
Plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel
Making sourdough starter takes about 5 days. Each day you "feed" the starter with equal amounts of fresh flour and water. As the wild yeast grows stronger, the starter will become more frothy and sour-smelling. On average, this process takes about 5 days, but it can take longer depending on the conditions in your kitchen. As long as you see bubbles and signs of yeast activity, continue feeding it regularly. If you see zero signs of bubbles after three days, take a look at the Troubleshooting section below.
Day 1: Make the Initial Starter 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
Weigh the flour and water, and combine them in a 2-quart glass or plastic container (not metal). Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel secured with a rubber band.
Place the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.
Day 2: Feed the Starter 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
Take a look at the starter. You may see a few small bubbles here and there. This is good! The bubbles mean that wild yeast have started making themselves at home in your starter. They will eat the sugars in the the flour and release carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and alcohol. They will also increase the acidity of the mixture, which helps fend off any bad bacterias. At this point, the starter should smell fresh, mildly sweet, and yeasty.
You can follow the journey on our farm Facebook page and on our Instagram feed. Hopefully, the sourdough starter journey will end with a great batch of starter that will become the beginning of many loaves of bread!