Want to make sourdough bread but don't have any sourdough starter? No worries, making your own in a two-quart glass or plastic container is easy.
Sourdough starter can be made from flour and milk or mashed potatoes left to sit out and attract wild yeast spores that occur naturally in the kitchen. That can be a little tricky.
Here's a simple sweet starter recipe for you. There are only four ingredients. Flour, sugar, yeast, and water. That's it! The starter recipe I'm sharing gets a boost from a "store-bought" yeast packet. You can use either regular or rapid-rise yeast.
I buy yeast in bulk since I bake bread often. If you use bulk yeast, measure two and one-half teaspoons for your starter.
Well, actually, there are five ingredients in the sourdough starter. The fifth one is a pinch of patience. I promise there will be rewards! I suggest you read the instructions more than once, but it's pretty simple!
Day 1. In a plastic or glass bowl, dissolve one packet of yeast in warm water. Next, stir in flour and sugar using a wooden or plastic spoon. Keep stirring until the batter is free of lumps. NEVER use a metal spoon! Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel and let it sit in a warm spot overnight.
On day 2, give it a good stir, cover it, and refrigerate. For the next two days, stir it daily and put it back in the refrigerator.
On day five, divide the mixture in half, discard half, or give half to a friend, along with feeding instructions and recipes like my friend Colleen did for me! Feed the remaining starter again with 1 cup of flour, one cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Once again, stir daily for the next four days.
Sourdough is a living thing full of hungry yeast that needs nourishment to stay alive. This method of leavening dates way back to ancient days when bread was one of the main staples in the human diet. A sweet sourdough starter like this is often affectionately called "Herman."
On the tenth day, feed Herman again. Give it the same feeding: 1 cup of flour, one cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Then stir daily for four more days.
Day 15 is finally here! The starter is ready to be used in baking! Yay! This is what you've been waiting for! Today, use part of your starter for baking something wonderful. Then, keep at least one cup of starter in the refrigerator and continue the stir and feed cycle. You can throw away or give away any leftover starter.
From then on, your starter will be ready for baking every ten days! Here's some more good news! A well-tended starter can stay healthy and live for years and years!
Here's what I do instead of discarding the extra starter. I bake a bigger batch of bread or try one new sourdough recipe instead. And let me tell you, I have friends who can't wait until it's baking day!
Remember The Little Red Hen? Like the busy hen, I've found out most folks would rather eat the bread than bake it. They'd rather have a fresh-baked loaf than a cup of starter.
But I love making bread and how my kitchen smells while it bakes. Best of all, I love to see the grin on someone's face when I hand them a loaf of sourdough bread! So it's always a win/win.
Like any habit, it takes a little time to establish and make it part of your daily routine. I suggest you keep your sourdough starter in a visible spot in your refrigerator so you see it daily. It takes only minutes a week to keep your Herman happy and well-fed.
Here is a recipe for San Francisco-style sourdough bread. But remember, this sweet starter is not just for bread! You can make biscuits, pancakes, donuts, or cinnamon rolls. On my next baking day, I will make some sandwich buns! I bet they will be amazing!
Happily, the art of bread baking is on the rebound, and for a good reason! Homemade bread has no preservatives, and sourdough is one of the healthiest types of bread you can eat.
The fermentation process creates probiotics that are good for gut health and makes it easier to digest. Research has also indicated that sourdough fermentation may modify carb molecule structure, lowering the bread's glycemic index.
There are many ways to pause the fermentation process and put your sourdough starter on hold. Even the most devoted baker needs a time-out at some point. My research indicates freezing the starter is a good solution. When I need to press pause in my baking schedule, I will divide my starter into one-cup portions and store it in freezer bags.
Then, when I'm ready to bake again, I can remove one or more starter bags from the freezer and return them to their home in the green plastic bowl. Once it's defrosted, I will resume the feed/stir cycle and continue baking delicious sourdough delights every ten days.
Are you intrigued to try making sourdough bread? It would be a fun project with children and a great way to spend time together in the kitchen. Have you ever made sourdough bread or used the starter to make other delicious baked goods? I'd love to hear from you!
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