Like many people who do spring cleaning when March (or for us upstate NYers, May) rolls around each year, I also tend to do “fall cleaning” in September and October, in anticipation of the months of hibernation ahead. I like to wrap up major home projects we’ve been working on, give away or donate things we don’t need, and make sure that our freezer and shelves are well-stocked as we settle in for the dreary months ahead. As part of that, I decided that I need to tackle some of the things on my “kitchen projects” list, and one that has been high on that list for a while now is sourdough bread. Some of you may remember my disappointment when I received sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour that is processed with peanuts…and since I couldn’t use it, I decided to give it away. Fortunately, King Arthur Flour also has a recipe for making your own sourdough starter from scratch. And although their directions for care of sourdough starter pertain only to the starter they sell, one quick live chat with one of their helpful bakers was all it took to create a complete list of instructions for those who want to make their own. I’ve detailed the instructions below so that you can make and maintain your own starter. Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a sourdough recipe in which to use it!
Recipe adapted from here.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Step 1: In a large glass bowl, pour in the water. Dissolve the honey in the water. Add in the yeast, and let that dissolve as well. Gradually stir in the flour, and then cover the bowl with a clean dish cloth. The mixture will begin to bubble almost immediately.
Place the bowl in a warm place and let it sit for 8-12 hours.
Step 2: After the 8-12 hours, stir the starter and discard half. Add 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. The starter should have the consistency of pancake batter. Cover the bowl with the dish cloth again and let sit for 2-4 hours more, until bubbly again.
Step 3: After the 2-4 hours, stir the starter and discard half again. Add another 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Cover the bowl with the dish cloth again and let sit 2-4 hours longer. The starter should be bubbly, though not as bubbly as it was when you first started.
Step 4: Stir the starter down and then place it in a stoneware or glass container, loosely covered with a lid. Store in the refrigerator.
To maintain: To maintain your starter, try to feed it at least once a week, although it can go for a month or longer. The starter may have a substantial layer of green, grey, or brown liquid on the top and that is okay; it is simply alcohol from the fermenting yeast.
(Note however that if the liquid is pink, or if the starter smells bad (rather than just tangy), then the starter has attracted the wrong bacteria and should be discarded.)
Stir the liquid into the mixture below (you can also drain some of the liquid off the top, if you want). Discard half, then add 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Stir the starter until smooth and then return it to the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.