Making Sourdough Starter and Bread


Today I’m over at Violet Posy’s Thrifty Christmas talking about making sourdough starter and loaves to give as gifts this Winter. While we don’t celebrate Christmas we do give gifts as part of our tradition and last year we gave sourdough.

How to make a sourdough starter:

What you need:

-Warm water – spring water is ideal but if you are using tap water boil it first and leave it to stand overnight (gets rid of the chlorine)

-Organic flour. I use unbleached bread flour but many people use rye flour or a combination of the two.

-A jar or glass bowl – scrupulously clean so nothing else gets into the starter.

-Non-metallic tools as the metal can give your culture a weird taste.

Day one: mix 50g warm water and 50g flour in the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm but away from hot spots.

Day two: stir in any liquid which has formed on the top. Mix in 50g warm water and 50g flour.

Day three – seven: normally you would throw out half of the starter at this point but as we want a large quantity we won’t. Mix in 100g warm water and 100g flour.

You will start to see bubbles form in your mixture and notice a smell. It can be yeasty but it is also not unusual for it to smell alcoholic or a bit like pear drops. So long as it doesn’t smell rotten you’re all good.

How to make a sourdough starter the easy way:

Buy a San Francisco Sourdough Starter £4.99 but you can be up and running within a couple of days, make unlimited quantities and it has a delicious flavour.

Feeding instructions:

Your starter is hungry fellow, if you keep it out of the fridge most likely it will need feeding daily. If you haven’t made any bread give it 50g of flour and 50g of water but if you have made bread you’ll want to give it a bigger feed of 100g flour and 100g warm water.

In the fridge he can go a few days without feeding but revive and feed 24 hours before making a loaf.

Making a loaf:

175g starter (which has not been fed for 24 hours, feed the remaining starter)

500g strong bread flour

Approx 200-300ml warm water

1 tsp salt dissolved in the warm water

  • Mix the starter and the flour together in a bowl.
  • Add the salted water a little at a time, mixing through until you have a supple and elastic dough. It may be slightly wetter than a regular dough and that is fine.
  • Oil the surface (don’t use flour), turn the dough out and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Put the dough in a glass bowl, cover and leave until it has risen by half (depending on the temperature and atmosphere this could be a couple of hours to overnight).
  • Once risen, take it out, gently shape it and place it in a well floured proving basket and leave until risen by half again.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 220°C then turn down the oven to 180°C and bake for a further 20 minutes. You can add a tray of water to the oven to create steam which will improve the flavour.
  • The bread should sound hollow when you tap the bottom and smell delicious! Cool on a wire rack wrapped in a tea towel.

We currently make one loaf each day and it is so rewarding and nourishing I hope we never go back.


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1 Comment

  • Reply Super Kat (@thatkat) December 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    @rectripp here you go: it’s second nature now but it did take a month to get into it properly!

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