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Sourdough bread baking and starter


Sourdough bread baking

I love bread, especially fresh, warm and crusty loaves that crackle when you squeeze them. Put some butter on a slice and cheese and it’s like heaven or just tear off a piece and dunk in soup, sauce or olive oil – yum!

Fresh bread is great but older and stale is not and finding fresh baked bread every morning is hard.

You can bake your own but if you enjoy cooking you will discover that there is a difference between cooking (adding ingredients to the dish as it cooks) and baking (follow the recipe and if it fails, start again).

I have also noticed that I can eat plenty of artisan breads made with sourdough but just one commercial roll makes me feel bloated.

Sourdough bread is made with sourdough starter which is a natural and live yeast culture. You “feed” it to keep it alive, some cultures are many years old.

The bread is also allowed to proof cool – in a refrigerator overnight – which allows the sourdough flavor to develop.

 As the dough “proofs” or rises in a cool place, the gluten also starts to break down which makes it easier on digestion.

Because the starter needs to be alive by regular feedings, you can end up with an overwhelming amount of it.

You can use it up in many different products: bread, bagels, croissants, pancakes, crackers and many more.

Starter can also be slowed down by refrigerating it and feeding it just once a week – or even longer intervals.

Basic starter:

The easiest way is f you can get some starter from a friend.

Making your own can be easy but not always successful.

Sourdough starter recipe – below.

  • There will be a link inserted here. (non-chlorinated water + flour 50%/50%  – by weight)

You build up your starter by discarding ½ and adding back that amount in flour+water OR discard 2/3 and add that amount flour+water.  

Feeding schedule:

Very active: use the 2/3 discard and feed after the starter grows to the max and comes back down – could be every 12 hours or less.

Medium : ½ discard every 24 hours or so.

Slow: baking once a week – feed and let rise then refrigerate, remove from refrigerator 3 days before bake and feed. After it rises and comes down, feed again(12-24h). Remove what you need to make the dough and refrigerate the starter until next time.

Vacation mode: feed then refrigerate for 2-4 weeks, it may take a few feedings to get fully active again.

At feeding: weigh out the amount you intend to keep and discard rest in compost or trash using a scraper – do not pour down sink (clogged pipes). Wash your jar with hot and cold water – careful if using soap as residue can kill starter.

If you get a liquid separated on top of your starter (hooch) you can either stir it in (I usually do) or pour it off but it is OK. Fuzzy mold, pink or gray mold/slime are bad signs – discard starter.


Glass (mason) jar with straight sides at least 4X as large as the starter you put in, scale, mixing bowl, plastic scraper, 2 rubber bands(to put around the jar where you filled to and the second to where it rose to).


Water – non chlorinated (filter or let stand for chlorine to air out)

Flour – bread flour, rye, whole wheat. You can use organic but do not have to. Rye and whole wheat have more wild yeast in them, using them early on helps to develop your starter. Adding 10-20% rye and/or whole wheat every 3rd to 6th feeding revitalizes your starter I think. Bread flour has more protein for better gluten development. The difference may seem small – 3% in All Purpose flour vs 4% in bread flour but that is 33% more protein in the bread flour. Bread flour also yields better results in the bread making.

Using the starter:

There are many recipes online and in books for using sourdough starter and a good way to achieve success is having an active starter and to make a poolish. A poolish is equal to the yeast water used when baking with commercial yeast – an active yeast culture.

Sourdough starter (for baking bread) Made November 2022

  • 60 grams tepid water
  • 30 grams wholewheat flour
  • 30 grams rye flour

Mix flour and water into a paste/dough and put in a quart sized glass jar, cover with plastic or cloth and leave on the counter at room temp. (Tuesday 11/1 at 4.45 pm)

First feeding:

  • 60 grams water
  • 30 grams AP flour (all-purpose)
  • 30 grams bread flour

When the dough has developed bubbles and grown, it is active and yeast is growing Once it drops back down it is time to feed it. 1 – 3 days approximately. At this point we feed the starter culture to keep it growing.

First feeding (after 3 days) we add the water to the dough and make it soupy, then add the flour and mix it into smooth paste/dough. Return to clean jar on counter and cover. (Friday 11/4 at 12.15pm – 3 days)

Second feeding(24 hours after last feeding)

First remove half your dough and discard. Leaving 120 grams of starter.

  • 60 grams water
  • 30 grams AP flour
  • 30 grams bread flour

Mix like the first feeding and return to clean jar. (Saturday 11/5 at 5 pm – 27 hours)

Third feeding(48 hours after last feeding)

Same as second feeding – remove half your starter and feed flour and water, return to clean jar.

(Monday 11/7 at 5.30 pm 48.5 hours – very active)

Fourth feeding(24 hours after last feeding) – same as second. (Tuesday 11/8 at 4.00pm – very active doubled + and fell back)

Fifth feeding (18 hours after last feeding) – same as second. (Wednesday 11/9 at 6.30 am – very active doubled and fell back 10.5 hours)

Sixth feeding(12 hours after last feeding) – same as second (Wednesday 11/9 at 9pm , good and active)

Seventh feeding(12 hours after last feeding) – same as second (Thursday 11/10 at 6.30 am , good and active) * first batch of bread started.

Eight feeding – same as second (Thursday 9pm, good and active) at this point I will let the sourdough go longer between feedings to develop more sour flavor .

Ninth feeding – 120gr starter, 60 gr tepid water, 20 gr rye, 20 gr ww, 20 gr bread flour. (Saturday 11/12 at 2 pm) starter rose then came down and sat, developed more sour aroma. After feeding it immediately bulked up to double.

Tenth feeding Sunday 11/13 at 7 pm. Same as ninth feeding with quick growth.

Notes on making your starter:

  1. Starters can come together and become usable and active in 10-15 days but sometimes it may take longer. If you see activity, be patient. Sometimes you get lucky and the starter comes together quicker.
  2. Because the starter is a live culture it behaves differently and not always predictable, especially at first. The starter may be very active after 5-6 days and suddenly totally slow down. This is not unusual with a new starter, be patient.
  3. As your starter gets older and more mature it will become stronger and activate quicker both in regular feedings and when baking. Part of this is due to more wild yeast in the culture as well as your working area.
  4. Keeping a small backup in the refrigerator is a good idea as many people have dropped the glass jar with starter or it becomes moldy or various other accidents.
  5. Be mindful of the amount of starter you put in a jar – it can triple and quadruple!

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