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Image of sliced loaf of bread for the How to Make Sourdough Bread Starter article

How to Make Sourdough Bread Starter and Bread

Summer Yule
Learn how to make sourdough bread starter and bread – it only takes two ingredients! With these tips, even novice bread makers can craft artisanal loaves!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 7 d
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 7 d 45 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 100 kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

Make the sourdough starter:

  • Start this process in the morning. Combine 1 cup of spelt flour with ½ cup of lukewarm water in a large food holding container that you won't need for a few days. I used a casserole dish. Cover the container with a paper towel or clean dish towel and leave it at room temperature (70°F) for 24 hours. Don't use an airtight lid on your container.
  • My house tends to be a little chillier than 70°F at this time of the year, so I nestled the casserole dish up to a heating pad set on low. This is a good way to keep your starter warm enough if you don't want to crank up the heat in the house.
  • The next morning (day 2), measure out ½ cup of your starter and discard the rest. (Pro tip: do not miss my article above for ideas to use your starter discards!) Mix the reserved starter with 1 cup of spelt flour with ½ cup of lukewarm water. Cover your holding dish again with a towel and let it rest at approximately 70°F for another 24 hours.
  • On the third morning, check your starter. It should be bubbly and have that characteristic sourdough smell. Starting today, you are going to begin feeding your starter twice per day (12 hours apart), once in the morning and once at night.
  • For each feeding, you are going to mix ½ cup of the starter with 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of lukewarm water. Then you should cover the holding container loosely and let it rest at 70°F until the next feeding. Repeat these morning and evening feedings on days four and five.
  • You are going to end up with starter to discard with each feeding since you will always start with more than the ½ cup you need. It can add up to a lot of food waste if you don't use it!
  • On the morning of day six, check your starter again. It should be nice and bubbly, have doubled in volume, and smell like sourdough. If it is not as active as described, continue feeding it for another couple of days before continuing on. When the starter looks and smells like it is ready, give it one more feeding of 1 cup of flour with ½ cup of water. Do not discard any starter this time! Let it rest at 70°F for 6 more hours (this will be the evening of day six if it did not need extra feedings).
  • After the 6-hour rest, measure out and set aside 1½ cups of your active starter. This is what you'll need to make bread now (instructions below). Put an additional ½ cup of starter in a glass canning jar or crock; you'll be keeping this long-term for when you want to make more bread. Any additional starter that you have can be discarded.
  • Feed the ½ cup of reserved starter 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of lukewarm water. Let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours until it gets nice and bubbly, and then pop it in the fridge. Don't cover the canning jar or crock tightly.

Caring for your refrigerated starter:

  • At least once per week, remove your starter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Remove ½ cup of starter and discard the rest. Mix this reserved starter with 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of water. Let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours until it gets nice and bubbly, and then pop it back in the fridge. Don't cover the canning jar or crock tightly.

Using your refrigerated starter to make bread:

  • A day or two before you want to make bread, remove the starter from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Measure out ½ cup of starter. Feed the starter it with 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of water and then let it rest at room temperature (70°F).
  • Continue feeding it every 12 hours until you are ready to use the starter in your recipe. You should have fed the starter at least 3 times before you use it in your recipe. This gives your starter plenty of time to become bubbly and active, so your bread will rise well.

To make a loaf of sourdough bread with starter that is active:

  • Mix 1½ cups of sourdough starter with 2¼ cups of spelt flour and a generous pinch of salt. Stir in ⅔-1 cup of water as needed to make a moist dough. This dough will be wetter than a typical pizza dough but you'll still be able to pick it up with your hands.
  • Knead the dough with clean hands for at least 20 minutes, 30 is better. Your hands will get messy and your arms may get tired! Don't skimp on kneading for the best results. When you are finished kneading, you should be able to stretch the dough thin enough to see light through it.
  • Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a loaf pan. I used a 9" x 5" glass loaf pan that was lightly misted with cooking oil spray.
  • Cover the top surface of the loaf with lightly oiled plastic wrap to prevent drying out during the next step. If you don't want plastic touching your food, you may be able to use waxed fabric sheets as a substitute. I haven't tried this yet but I plan on giving it a go in the near future.
  • Let the covered loaf of dough sit at room temperature (70°F) to proof for anywhere from 5-10 hours. (I tend to stick to the lower end of this range, 5 hours.)
  • If you've accidentally let your bread rise for too long, no worries. Just knead it for a couple of minutes and reshape it into a loaf. Cover the loaf and let it proof again, but for a shorter time period. Approximately 4-5 hours may work.
  • After proofing, remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the bread. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice a cross in the top of your bread loaf so that it does not split while baking.
  • Bake the loaf for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the loaf cool completely before slicing.
  • Enjoy! You definitely deserve it if you made it to this point!

Notes


This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Many find bread and other baked goods made with flour to be extremely easy to overeat. As such, I’m placing this item at level 3.
This recipe may not be the best option for some people. This includes those who are trying to follow a low-carb diet and those who have identified bread as a personal trigger food. (A trigger food is a food that someone has a great deal of trouble *not* overeating.)
I am not saying that everyone who wishes to lose body fat must skip bread. However, it is important to be especially mindful of the portion size on this one. This small-ish loaf provides 16 (delicious!) slices, if cut fairly thin.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal
Keywords bread, healthy food, how to make sourdough bread starter, real food, slow food, sourdough, sourdough starter, spelt, vegan, whole food, whole grain
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