Easy Sourdough Bread Guide Part One – From Scratch Sourdough Starter and the Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Sourdough certainly had a moment in this Corona Virus Pandemic and is probably more relevant than before as we should limit leaving the house and shopping as much as possible. Here is the first part of my sourdough bread baking guide that will teach you how to make delicious sourdough bread as easily and efficiently as possible. 

Obviously I am about a year late to the sourdough bread party as in early lockdown it was all the rage. I have only recently started baking sourdough bread because the idea of growing wild yeast had me worried for health reasons. It also felt intimidating. As it turns out it can be super easy once you get the feel for it. I haven’t had any other bread since early December when this journey started with solid results starting with my third round of loaves. Right now I am in the process of making sourdough bread baking as easy and efficient a process as possible, more on that later (Wednesday, I promise). First, we need to start growing our sourdough culture and understand why we do the things we do.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is the kind of leavened bread, which is made by growing a starter culture of wild yeast. To do that you mix warm water with flour and leave it to ferment at room temperature for multiple days where it will react with wildly occurring yeast in the flour and air (I know that is a disturbing thought, so think of delicious bread). Starter is natural yeast.

Why should you bake sourdough bread?

All of this sounds like a lot of work, so why should you even bother baking sourdough bread? It is not cheaper than buying bread from the grocery store. It will be cheaper than buying an artisanal loaf from some local bakery though, if you follow my way of doing it. Sourdough bread has a more complex flavour and depending on how much starter you use it doesn’t have to taste sour. It is also more easily digestible as the fermentation process breaks down gluten that can cause digestive issues such as bloating. I can confirm that. That does not mean it is gluten free or should be eaten by a person with gluten sensitivity. The fermentation process also makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients such as B-vitamins, iron, zinc and selenium from the bread. The bacteria in sourdough bread also promote gut health. Obviously there are a lot of reasons to bake or just purchase sourdough bread.   

What’s with all the discard?

If you take a look at the guide down below you will see that you will need to discard some of your starter culture, which really confused me. Don’t throw it away as you can use it to flavour other baked goods and other uses (more on that some other day). Actually you need to discard some to keep your pet culture, that you should name at some point because it is part of the family now, to keep it from growing into an insatiable beast. You would have to feed too much flour and probably could no longer fit it into a container. I should have googled that early on.

Sourdough Starter Culture

Phase/DayTo DoCharacteristics/Tips
1Mix 50 gr flour + 50 gr luke-warm water (37°C), leave it to sit covered with a tea towel in a warm place for 24 hours, stir after 12 hoursUsually these guides are given in days, but phases are really a more accurate way of growing a starter as the environment differs from flour to room temperature. If it isn’t where it should be in 24 hours then give it a little more time. As long as there is no mould or bad smell, you are good.
2Add 50 gr flour + 50 gr luke-warm water (37°C) and mix, leave it to rest 24 hoursIt should smell lightly sour and yeasty
3Discard half the starter (into a container, don’t throw it away) and feed the starter by adding 50 gr flour + 50 gr luke-warm water (37°C) and mix. Stir again after 12 hours and let it sit 24 hours like before.It should smell yeasty and like sour milk.
4Discard half the starter and add 50 gr flour + 50 gr luke-warm water (37°C) and mix. Leave it to sit until it has doubled in volume.There should be bubbles starting to form. 
5Discard half the starter and add 50 gr flour + 50 gr luke-warm water (37°C) and mix. Stir again after 12 hours and let it sit 24 hours like before.More bubbles and the starter should have visibly grown in size. 
6Sourdough Starter is ready to be used and named. Remove 100 gr of starter to keep growing the culture.It should smell sour and fruity. If it smells like rotten eggs or has mould it will have to be discarded. 
Additional Feedings, Maintenance and Baking with your starterFeed daily with 30 gr flour and water to increase the driving force of the starter and leave to double. Always discard about half. Then feed once a week, leave to double in the fridge. The night before baking, discard half and feed your starter 50 gr flour and warm water, let it rise at room temperature to double. Feed again in the morning if necessary to make sure that you have enough and use starter at peak rise. Test this by adding a teaspoon of starter into a bowl of water and if it flows at the top it is ready to be used. Hold some of your starter back, feed it and return it to the fridge.Any sign of mould or rotten smell the starter will have to be discarded. The longer it ferments the better your bread will rise.

So there you have an easy guide in how to make a sourdough starter from scratch. The idea of baking your own sourdough bread can be very intimidating and complicated which is why I set out to make it easier. Here are all the things and tips I have learned on my starter journey. It is best to rely on your senses than a basic timetable. My starter needed more time during all the phases because my apartment is really cold, but Grogu is alive and happy. I even took some to grow a rye starter by feeding it rye flour into a few grams of starter. Roger is really thriving, so there are more experiments coming. I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great day. Stay safe and wear a mask.

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