Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter
Adapted from kingarthurflour.com
Sourdough Starter

PREP TIME

80

minutes

TOTAL TIME

10160

minutes

SERVINGS

--

servings

PREP TIME

80

minutes

TOTAL TIME

10160

minutes

SERVINGS

--

servings

Adapted from kingarthurflour.com

Ingredients

  • 1

    cup whole rye (pumpernickel) or whole wheat flour

  • 1/2

    cup cool water

  • To feed your starter

  • a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1/2

    cup cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)

Directions

1) Day 1: Combine the pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this. 2) Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there's no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See "tips," below, for advice about growing starters in a cold house. 3) Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (4 ounces, about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it's cold). 4) Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours. 5) Day 3: By the third day, you'll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It's now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 4 ounces starter; this will be a generous 1/2 cup, once it's thoroughly stirred down. Discard any remaining starter. 6) Add a scant 1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup water to the 4 ounces starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating. 7) Day 4: Repeat step #6. 8) Day 5: Repeat step #6. By the end of day #5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You'll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little "rivulets" on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn't risen much and isn't showing lots of bubbles, repeat step #6 on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter. 9) Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Pour off all but 4 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface. 10) Remove however much starter you need for your recipe (no more than 8 ounces, about 1 cup); and transfer the remaining 4 ounces of starter to its permanent home: a crock, jar, or whatever you'd like to store it in long-term. Store this starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly; we recommend feeding it with a scant 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water once a week. Tips from our bakers Sourdough baking is as much art as science. The method you'll read here for making sourdough starter isn't an exact match for the one you read on another site, or in a cookbook, or in your great-grandma's diary. But it's the tried-and-true method we use for making starter here at King Arthur Flour, and we feel you'll have success with it. A note about room temperature: the colder the environment, the more slowly your starter will grow. If the normal temperature in your home is below 68°F, we suggest finding a smaller, warmer spot to develop your starter. For instance, try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator, or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Or, set it near a heat source (baseboard heater, etc.). Why do you need to discard half the starter? It seems so wasteful. Well, it's necessary for three reasons. First, unless you discard, eventually you'll end up with The Sourdough That Ate Milwaukee — too much starter. Second, keeping the starter volume the same helps balance the pH. And third, keeping the volume down offers the yeast more food to eat each time you feed it; it's not fighting with quite so many other little yeast cells to get enough to eat. Also, you don't have to discard it if you don't want to; you can give it to a friend, or use it to bake. There are quite a few recipes on our site using "discard" starter, including sourdough pizza crust, sourdough pretzels, and my all-time favorite waffles.

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