Sourdough sounds like an elaborate process of making bread. However, it’s really easy if you know the sourdough basics of maintaining your sourdough starter. Start here and I promise you will not be overwhelmed with technical baking jargon.
In order to have sourdough, you need a sourdough starter. This is the yeast that you will feed and keep going to continue to make sourdough baked goods like bread, biscuits, and pancakes & waffles. The world of sourdough recipes is endless. You can find a sourdough recipe for just about anything. HOWEVER, you have to focus on the wording of the recipes and determine if the recipe calls for sourdough discard or ripe sourdough. In this recipe, we are focused on discard.
How to start sourdough
- Make your own by hand
- Purchase an existing yeast starter
As a working mom, I will give you one guess which route I took. I purchased my sourdough from King Arthur’s Baking.
The reason I chose this particular starter is that it comes from ancient grains. This starter has been nurtured in New England since the 1700s. There is something about knowing this starter has a long history that makes it exciting. I love a good story and can imagine all the amazing bakers before me who started with the same yeast. It’s a fresh sourdough starter, not dried. Upon receiving it, you should immediately feed it. It has been a very active yeast since the start and appreciated the quick start to my sourdough journey.
Should you decide to make your own, here is their recipe to do that as well.
Additionally, King Arthur has created a sourdough booklet that I find very helpful to get started. The recipes included in the booklet have been a hit in our house as well. I’ve made all the recipes except the naturally leavened sourdough bread.
How to the feed sourdough starter
This is the simple part but depending on your preference and how often you will be baking, this can be time-consuming. I’m not one to add extra tasks to my list that are not rewarding so I will give you the process that I follow.
Feeding sourdough recipe
After you have an established starter (see the King Arthur sourdough booklet for getting started) here are the steps:
- Pull out 1/2 cup of sourdough starter and place to the side or in a new container. The remaining starter is now your discard which we will cover below.
- Add 1/2 cup of lukewarm to warm water to the 1/2 cup of sourdough starter.
- Add a scant 1 cup of your preferred flour to the mixture and stir well.
- Leave at room temperature for 12 hours before feeding again and starting at step 1.
- Store in a container with a loosely fitted lid; do not tightly seal
You will have what is called discard left. This can be discarded, as the name implies, or you can find recipes specifically for sourdough discard. I have yet to throw away discard because I cannot fathom spending money on flour to just throw it in the trash. Also, there are a lot of simple recipes for discard. Some recipes are quick while others take fermenting time so make sure to read the recipe before you commit.
what type of flour do you use?
You can use any type of flour for making sourdough however, the consistency of the starter may vary with the various types of grains. Many people choose more artisan grains like Einkorn. I have stuck with using organic unbleached all-purpose flour currently.
Do I need a special container to store the sourdough starter?
The short answer to this is no. However, a glass or ceramic container works best. Do not use metal containers unless you are sure they are stainless steel. The same goes for the tool that you use to mix the starter when you feed it. I use the one plastic spatula that I have in my house to stir the mixture and store it in the King Arthur crock. The crock not necessary but it does bring me joy. It’s also handmade so of course that gives me all the good feels.
Prolonging sourdough feeding times
As you can see from the “Feeding Sourdough Recipe” above, you technically need to feed your sourdough starter every 12 hours. So twice a day you are using 1 cup of flour. That can get pricey as well as time-consuming.
If you are not planning to bake daily with your starter, you have the option to store your sourdough starter in the fridge for 7 days. If you want to follow this option, it is best to leave your starter at room temperature for 3-4 hours prior to placing it in the fridge. I’ve gone longer as well to allow more fermenting and rising of the starter.
You can also freeze sourdough discard or starter to use at a later time. I have not done this but I’ve heard success so never feel you have to throw away your starter. It can be very forgiving and flexible.
How I use these sourdough basics as a working mom
As a working mom, I do not bake frequently during the week. Most of my baking takes place on weekends. Saturday morning I pull out the starter and feed it. I decide that morning if I want to make pancakes or waffles for Sunday morning. If so, I leave the starter out on the counter and feed it at night to obtain enough discard to make the King Arthur sourdough recipe in the booklet. I also pull out what I will need that night and feed it for making sourdough bread the next day. The artisan bread recipe included in the booklet makes 2 – 9 inch round loaves. Typically I will leave one loaf out and store the second one in the freezer. The bread freezes well and thaws out well when you are ready to use it.
Please share with me where you are in your sourdough journey and share any great recipes you have. If you have questions please comment below.