How To Make Your Own Sourdough Bread Starter
It’s amazingly satisfying to have done the lot from scratch, and yes you can make awesome sourdough bread dough in your bread machine, though it will need baking in the oven.
In theory homemade sourdough bread made with a good sourdough starter should need no extra yeast, but here’s the thing – we do.
The reality is that our fussy modern palates find the resulting bread without the extra lift from yeast too heavy and dense, which is why these days sourdough starter is mainly added to bread recipes to get that sourdough flavor, without the heaviness.
Only the best bread machines are featured here on this page and most will have a dough setting, though it pays to check before buying as not having a dough only cycle will limit your experiments with artisan bread, unless you roll up your sleeves and get kneading!
Make Sourdough Starter Live – Method
- Mix the hot water, milk and sugar and let cool to between 40C (105F) and 45C (115F) then add the yeast.
- Allow to stand until your mixture develops a foamy head (5 to 10 minutes)
- Then add the flour and mix well
- Cover the bowl loosely with a lid that is partially open to the air – a clean damp tea towel works well
- Put in a warm place between 27C (80F) and 38C (100F)
- Leaving the bowl partially open allows air born yeasts to be collected by the sourdough starter, which is exactly what you want
- Within 24 hours it should be bubbling beautifully and have developed a faint hint of sour smell to it – perfect!
- Stir once or twice a day – you’ll see that the mixture usually separates into a thin watery liquid at the top with a thick gluey mass settled at the bottom – just stir together twice a day
The starter is ready when it has developed a good strong sour smell. It can usually be used after 3 – 5 days, but I leave mine 10 – 14 days before using.
Keeping Using & Replenishing Sourdough Starter
To bake sourdough bread, you need to prepare a basic sourdough ‘sponge’ at least six hours in advance – 12 hours is better so I’m inclined to make mine the night before. To do this mix some sourdough starter with a portion of bread flour and liquid as directed by the loaf recipe. Put in a warm place covered loosely and leave for 6 hours or preferably more.
You need to replenish your starter with what you removed in equal amounts, so if you took out 4 fluid ounces of starter, replenish it with 4 fluid ounces of water mixed with 4 oz of bread flour.
Now put the replenished sourdough starter in a warm place covered loosely and leave for 6 hours or preferably more before returning to the refrigerator.
Using the starter daily is easy, you just replenish daily what you use as above. If you don’t bake at least weekly, then do refresh the sourdough starter every week to keep it working and fresh.
To do this remove 8 fluid ounces and keep – discard the rest. Add 5 oz of flour and 8 fluid ounces of water, stir well and allow to stand in a warm place for 24 hours before returning to the refrigerator. Every six months or so, add a pinch of sugar and yeast to your starter to keep it going – obviously you can just discard and start again at any point.
When You Have To Discard Sourdough Starter
If the mixture develops a green or pinkish hue then toss it out immediately and sterilize your starter container before starting again. This is more likely to happen with sourdough starter that gets used infrequently than one in daily or at least weekly use.
You can find a good bread machine recipe for sourdough bread here – so go on, make a sourdough starter today and bookmark the recipe page to use your sourdough starter as soon as it’s ready.