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How to make your own sourdough starter — it's easier than you think

Brandi is natural born food lover of anything from gourmet cheeses and wine down to plain baked breads. When not in the kitchen cooking, she loves to be outdoors, especially near the ocean. She puts her focus mainly on healthy organic ea...

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter

With a few simple ingredients and a few days of patience, you can make a homemade sourdough starter from scratch, and you won’t believe how easy it is. Once your starter is prepped, you can easily bake up a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.

Making your own homemade sourdough starter is not as intimidating as it sounds. I'll show you how simple it really is, plus give you a recipe for homemade sourdough bread once your starter is ready. Allow yourself a few days in advance to get the sourdough starter ready, since it has to ferment.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

With a few simple ingredients like flour, salt, yeast and warm water, you can easily make a sourdough starter for baking delicious homemade bread.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

Start by adding your active dry yeast, sugar and warm water to a clean jar. Make sure the jar is large, as the starter will bubble up and foam during the first day of fermenting.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

Once the yeast has proofed, add the remaining ingredients, and stir using the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover the top of the jar with a paper towel poked with several small holes or with a cheesecloth.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

After the first day, the starter will start to bubble up. This is the start of the fermenting process.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

On day two, the starter looks basically the same as on day one, with slight foaming. You will start to notice a bit of a sour aroma coming from the starter. This is good!

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

On day three, you will notice the foaming has stopped, and there is some separation going on. That's OK, just give the starter a quick stir.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

On day four, you will notice a discoloration in the mixture and a lot of separation. This means your starter is ready for use in your baked goods. Move your starter to the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Now you have your very own homemade starter, ready to use in any sourdough baked goods.

Homemade sourdough starter recipe

Yields 2-1/2 cups

Prep time: 15 minutes | Inactive time: 4 days | Total time: 4 days 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1 tablespoon) package dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
  • 2 cups flour
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. To a very large jar or bowl, add the yeast, sugar and warm water. Mix well, and let stand for 10 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam slightly.
  2. Add the flour and the sea salt to the jar. Using the handle of a long wooden spoon, mix the starter until there are no lumps and it is very sticky yet smooth.
  3. Cover the top of the jar with a cheesecloth, and secure it with a rubber band.
  4. Store the starter in a dark, cool place for 4 days, until it begins to ferment.
  5. Once the starter has fermented, store it covered in the refrigerator.
  6. Each time you take from your starter to bake, you will need to replenish it by adding 1-1/2 cups of flour and 1-1/4 cups of warm water to the jar, then mixing it well and allowing it to stand overnight.

Homemade sourdough bread is easy when you learn how to make your own sourdough starter
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

Easy homemade sourdough bread recipe

Yields 1 large or 2 small loaves

Prep time: 20 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour 20 minutes | Bake time: 30 minutes | Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 1 cup warm buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3-1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. To a large mixing bowl, add the active dry yeast, sugar and warm buttermilk. Mix, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the sourdough starter and egg into the yeast mixture.
  3. Add in the sea salt, and add the flour into the yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing until a soft, sticky dough forms.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl. (Use a large bowl, as the dough will double in size as it rises.) Cover, and let stand for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Turn the dough back out onto a floured surface, and punch it down.
  8. Shape it into 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves, and place the dough on the baking sheet. Let the dough stand for 20 minutes for a second rise.
  9. Bake the bread uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and the center is completely baked.
  10. Slice, and serve as desired.

More sourdough-inspired recipes

Vegan sourdough stuffing
Sourdough panzanella with chicken
Rosemary sourdough bread

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