April 30, 2011

Homemade Sourdough Starter and Bread

10 days ago I committed.

I committed to a slimy, sticky, sour group of creatures. I committed to raise, feed, and take care of them for as long as I possibly can.

The chances are good, that I will probably get bored and kill them in a couple of months, but for now, I am committed.

Did I forget to mention that I am growing yeast - not puppies.

I'm going on vacation in 1 week, and I asked a friend if she could feed my yeast. I'm not gonna lie, it sounded weird.

Do people name their yeast? Is that weird?

It's not like you can name all of your yeast. I mean, they live in a colony of thousands. I guess I could name the colony. Your right, still weird.

Now, let me tell you how to grow some yeast.

No more tangents. I promise.

No, that's a lie. I can't promise. Remember, I'm the girl with the short attention span.

I'll try though. Really, really, hard. Just for you.

Did you know that sourdough bread is the oldest and most original form of leavened bread?

It's simple. Mix flour with water and let it sit at room temperature. The yeast in the air will land in the mixture and eat the natural sugar, producing lactic acid. This gives sourdough its "sour" flavor.

Who knew that we had so much yeast floating around in the air? Very cool, yet kinda disturbing.

6-Day Starter Growing Guidelines

Day 1 - Mix 1 tsp of (whole wheat or rye flour) + 1 tsp warm water in a small bowl and cover with Saran wrap. Make sure you poke tiny holes in the Saran wrap, so the starter can breath. Let it sit for 24 - 36 hours in room temperature. You want your yeast to bubble, foam, and double in size.

Day 2 - When the mixture has bubbled, foamed, and doubled, your starter is active and it's now ready to add more flour. Add 1 tsp whole wheat flour + 1 tsp warm water to the mixture. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit for 24 hours. Again you want you starter to double in size each feeding.

Day 3 - When the starter has doubled, add 2 tsp whole wheat flour + 2 tsp warm water to the mixture. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 4 - When the starter has doubled, add 4 tbsp whole wheat flour + 4 tbsp warm water to the mixture. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit for 24 hours. At this point, you will need a larger bowl.

Day 5 - When the starter has doubled, add 8 tbsp whole wheat flour + 8 tbsp warm water to the mixture. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 6 - When the starter has doubled, add 3/4 cups of (all-purpose flour) + 3/4 cup warm water to the mixture. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit for 24 hours. Hopefully, you should now have roughly 2 cups of sourdough starter.

Feeding the Starter

People suggest that you must leave your starter on the counter in a relatively warm area, and feed it twice a day for the fist 3 months to develop a healthy strain. I do not have this much time and dedication, therefore, I immediately put mine in the fridge.

If your starter is in the fridge, they say you should feed it every 1 to 2 weeks.

To feed the starter you must add an equal amount of flour and half water.

Example: 1 cup starter + 1 cup flour + 1/2 cup warm water
         1/2 cup starter + 1/2 cup flour + 1/4 cup warm water

When you are ready to feed the starter, take it out of the fridge and discard until you have 1 cup left. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter and stir. Cover with Syran wrap (with tiny holes poked in the top) and let sit until it has doubled in size. If this doesn't happen in 12 hours, repeat the process until it has.

Once it has doubled, put it back in the fridge until the next feeding.

Using the Starter

Once you are ready to make bread, remove the starter from the fridge.

You want to feed the starter just before using it. Follow the instructions above for feeding your starter. You want to finish with 3 cups of starter.

Once your starter has doubled in size, remove 2 cups for the bread and put the remaining back in the fridge.

Sourdough Bread Recipe (makes 2 loaves)


5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups of water
2 cups of sour dough starter
1 tbsp salt or more for taste

1. Mix the flour, water, and expanded sourdough mix in a bowl. Cover, and let rise for 20 minutes. Add the salt and knead for 15 minutes. Cover and let rise, double in size, for 4 - 8 hours.

2. Cut the dough in half and shape your loaf. I shaped mined into a round disk. Place it into a bowl to rise for 2 - 4 hours, covered with Saran wrap.

3. Place a pizza stone in the oven at 500 F for 20 minutes (bottom rack). Place a roasting pan filled with 1/3 inch of water on the top rack, above the pizza stone, for 10 minutes.

4. Turn the oven down to 425 F, and place the dough on the pizza stone. Shut the oven door. 30 seconds later open the door, just a crack, and spray the sides of the oven with water. Repeat this 3 times, every 30 seconds. Bake the bread for 45 minutes, or until light brow. If you have a thermometer, bake until the bread is 200 F.


  1. Wow, funny timing because I was thinking about trying to make sourdough too a couple weeks ago (but decided not to... it's a lot of work compared to driving to Columbia City Bakery). So you actually did a wild yeast starter? When I looked into it last week I was looking at buying a starter online, because a couple vendors sell San Francisco sourdough starters. And I like the SF style; the more sour the better. How sour did your's come out? It looks really good in the pictures.

  2. I had a starter that I kept for about 6 months before, as you say, I got bored...perhaps I'll make another one after looking at your gorgeous pictures and bread! Theresa

  3. haha, "Can you feed my yeast?" That's hilarious! I must say, this is too much work for me. I think I'm too impatient to grow yeast for bread. That's awful, but I'm being honest. I love sourdough bread though, so maybe one day I'll venture into the art of growing yeast. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Anonymous03 May, 2011

    haha love your style of writing! This makes me want to grow some yeast! But, I am so impatient, it might be a total failure. haha

    Loving your blog!

  5. Thanks for all the great comments.

    Patrick - sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. My sourdough turned out with a medium sour taste. I think because it is a relatively new starter. I have had mine in the fridge for a couple of months and tried to expand it today. I think some of my yeast have died, so I am trying to revive it. Slow and steady!

  6. Thank you for the wonderful guide. I've been wanting to make a sourdough starter for a long time, but you've just given me the confidence to make it happen. Thanks, I'll let you know how I do!

  7. Hi! The started I use doesn't have to be fed. I store it in the fridge and take it out almost every day when I bake bread for my family.
    I Love baking homemade bread for my family!
    Healthy and delicious!

    1. I'm Cathy and I want to bake sourdough bread, "Where did you get starter that doesn't have to be fed?" I would really like to learn!
      Thanks Venera

  8. This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It's from Sourdough's International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.

  9. Thanks so much for posting this!! I've never tried a sourdough starter because I thought it was a lot harder than this. I'm feeding my starter and so far so good. I'll post again after I bake my first batch.

  10. Thanks so much for posting this!! I'll post more after my first batch of bread.