The Starter that Started it all
Easy Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter recipe
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Does anybody else feel like Sourdough Starter acts as a sales pitch for the whole Sourdough Bread Baking thing, trying to lure you with its easiness into the World of Sourdough? But don't be fooled, that's the only easy part of the process. The good news is that absolutely anyone can make it, even if you have never baked anything in your life!!! It's a 2 ingredient recipe, no cooking required, it works on its own - you just have to feed it daily, so it doesn't die of hunger. As for the Sourdough Bread itself - I shared my beginner recipe and baking tips here to make the process a lot easier for new bakers. Read the story of my first sourdough loaf and know if I did it, you can do it too!
Are you ready to start? Welcome to the World of Sourdough!
Here are a few tips before we begin:
Use bottled or filtered water; chlorinated water can cause the starter to die.
Feed the starter once every 24 hours around the same time - choose what time is best for you, but don't worry if you skip a feeding - just feed it as soon as you remember, and it will live
Don't panic if you see grayish water on top of your starter - it just means it's hungry; discard the water and feed the starter.
If you see that your starter begins growing mold or turns orange - it's time to throw it out and make a new one; it's been contaminated
To get a better rise of the dough, make sure to use your starter when it is in the rising stage (with a dome in the center) vs. the falling stage when it starts getting hungry (you will see the starter sliding marks on the sides of the jar)
Use a Digital Scale to weigh the ingredients and an Instant Read Thermometer to measure the temperature of the water; both of these are really inexpensive but make a big difference in the process
A narrow silicone spatula is very convenient for mixing
Whole Wheat Flour
Bottled or filtered water lukewarm temperature around 85-90°F
Take a glass jar you will be using to make your starter and weigh it without the lid; write down the weight on top of the lid with a permanent marker. Any jar will work, but the ones with a wide mouth will be easier to work with.
Next, with a jar on the scale, press a reset button to zero it out.
Then take 25g of flour and 25g of water and mix them vigorously to make sure the ingredients are incorporated well without any dry flour left.
Cover the jar with a lid but don't close all the way, so there is still air coming in, and leave it at room temperature around 70-75°F for 24 hours.
Day 2 and 3
Weigh the jar with the starter and remove all but 25g, so the scale shows the weight of the jar + 25g.
Add 50g of flour and 50g of water. This is a 1:2:2 ratio with 1 part starter, 2 parts flour, and 2 parts water.
Mix, cover, and leave it again for 24 hours.
Day 4 through 7
Use a 1:3:3 ratio to feed the starter to give it more food.
Take 25g of starter and add 75g of flour and 75g of water.
Mix, cover, and let it sit for 24 hours.
Repeat until your starter begins doubling in size within 6 hours, then it's ready to use and make your first Sourdough Bread.
To maintain your starter, feed it once a day if you are keeping it on the counter. Leave only 10g of starter and feed it with 30g of whole wheat flour and 30g of water to minimize waste. This amount is enough to bake 2 loaves using 50g of mature starter and feeding according to the recipe; keep whatever is left (about 10g) and feed it again with 10/30/30 gram quantity.
Another option (for those who don't bake frequently) is to keep the starter in the fridge and feed it once a week. Prior to moving it to the refrigerator, feed it and leave it on the counter until it starts making bubbles, then you can move it to the fridge. Come back once a week to feed it as usual and let it warm up on the counter until it becomes bubbly again, then move it back to the refrigerator. When you need to use it for baking, take it out and feed it for 2-3 days in a row to activate it.
What to do with Sourdough Starter Discard
You may think, why do we need to discard the starter in the first place? As the starter is a living thing, it will keep growing and require more food each time, that's why we need to keep the quantity small or else it will take over your fridge and your wallet!
To avoid wasting any flour, you can use your starter in these delicious Sourdough Starter Discard Recipes, no need to throw it out. Just collect it and keep it in a separate jar in the fridge; you don't have to feed it. But remember the longer you keep it in the refrigerator, the older and the hungrier your starter gets, and will have a more sour taste, so adjust its quantity in the recipes if you prefer a milder flavor or add a little bit more sugar or sweetener of your choice. Check out this Sourdough Starter Discard Pancake Recipe for a super-easy way to use your starter discard and make the best pancakes ever.
Now you have everything you need to start your Sourdough Bread Baking journey with confidence and bake your first loaf. Find my beginner Sourdough recipe here; I simplified it to make the process less scary and more fun for new bakers. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask them in the comments.
Tools for Sourdough Bread Baking: