Before we even start, if you’ve already tried this recipe and are having trouble getting your sourdough starter to the “very-active” stage, or if your loaves aren’t rising well, or if they’re too dense, you can skip to the Troubleshooting tips below… scroll waaaay down. If you’re new to this page, start right here:
Here’s a great method for and easy sourdough starter from Chapter 11 of The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. (The recipe also appears in Chapter 12 of The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) You can create a sourdough starter (in French, levain); without fear and without dedicating your whole day to the project. It only takes a few minutes a day to get starter up and running. It takes a while to get your starter strong enough to actually use in a batch of bread, but until it is ready to go, you can always bake any of the other yeast-based recipes in the books, or from the Master yeast-based method.
Sourdough starter just needs flour, water and a container to keep it in. Nothing special or fancy. Just make sure the container can hold at least two quarts of starter. You’ll see some Baking Bloopers below of what happens if your container is too small (or if you seal a glass container. Spoiler alert: don’t).
Once you have created your starter you can use it to bake beautiful loaves, with or without added yeast. The flavor is incredible and you will still be making a large batch of dough and storing it for up to a week, so you will do the work on one day for many loaves.
To make the starter: (more…)