Sourdough Starter

Feeding Instructions

Sourdough Starter Maintenance

Your sourdough starter needs to be fed regularly to keep it alive and active for baking. Use high quality, whole grain flour such as red fife for best results. Sourdough starters are most active at warm room temperatures. Your starter must be healthy and active to effectively rise and flavour your loaves. If you are baking regularly, store your starter at room temperature, on your Kitchen counter works well. At room temperature, your starter will be more active and require maintenance feeding every 12 hours. If you are an occasional baker, you can store your starter in the fridge, maintenance feeding it once per week. However, if you intend to bake with it, remove it from the fridge 12 hours before baking and give it a baking feed to prepare it for baking.

For Beginners

If you are just maintaining your starter (not planning on baking with it) you can store it in the fridge and feed it once every week. If you bake regularly, keep it at room temperature and feed every 12 hours. To maintenance feed it, the breakdown is

Maintenance feed

Flour               50 g ~ 1/3 cup
Starter             10 g ~ 3/4 tablespoon (the rest is discarded or can be used for other recipes such as pancakes or scones)
Water              50 g = 50ml water


When you are preparing to bake with it, you can remove from the refrigerator and do a baking feed approximately 12 hours before baking (if you have already been storing your starter on the counter and feeding every 12 hours, a baking feed is not necessary). This breakdown is as follows: 

Baking feed

Flour               50 g ~ 1/3 cup
Starter             50 g ~ 1/2 cup (the rest is discarded or can be used for other recipes such as pancakes or scones)
Water              50 g = 50ml water


When you are ready to make your bread, take 100g of your now ready to bake starter as the leaven in your bread recipe (the remaining starter you can give a maintenance feed and put it back in the refrigerator and keep for your next bake). See Sourdough Bread Baking Instructions below.

Additional Notes

If your starter appears sluggish, it can very likely be revived. If your starter has no bubbles and very little acidic smell, try leaving it in a warm place for 24 hours.

If you miss a feed and your starter over ferments, it may develop a strong sour and hotly alcoholic smell, and/or have some liquid pooling or slight discolouration. To revive this over fermented starter, proceed with daily maintenance feeds, keeping the starter in a warm place until a healthy rhythm is re-established and the mildly acidic sweet smell of a healthy starter returns.

Example Feeding/Baking Schedule

Friday evening – Remove starter from refrigerator. Feed with above baking feed around 5PM. Keep at room temperature overnight.

Saturday morning – Starter should appear bubbly, be doubled in size, and smell sour. Use a portion as the leaven in your bread around 9AM. Use some of the remainder to do a maintenance feed. This is now your starter for future uses. Keep at room temperature for around 2 hours, then place in the refrigerator for the rest of the week. Proceed to rise, shape, and proof your dough. Once your dough is proofed, either bake Saturday evening, or refrigerate (covered) overnight to bake Sunday morning. See the below bread baking recipe for more detailed instructions.

Your starter will be happy in the refrigerator for 5 – 7 days at a time. Be sure to give your starter at least one feed at room temperature before using it to leaven your bread. Remove your starter from the refrigerator and feed at least once a week, even if you are not going to use it to bake.

If you are concerned about the health and vitality of your starter, keep it at room temperature and feed it a baking feed twice a day, roughly 12 hours apart, for 3 days. This should restore your starter to good health.

Sourdough Bread

Baking Instructions

Ingredients

All-purpose Flour
Water
Leaven/Starter
Salt

500 g
350 g
100 g
12.5 g


In a medium to large bowl, mix together flour and water until incorporated. Let rest at least 30 minutes and a maximum of 2 hours. Add the leaven until well incorporated with no visible streaks. Mix salt in thoroughly, squeezing the dough between your fingers to incorporate the salt, then gathering the dough toward the center of the bowl to reshape into one cohesive mass.

Fold dough from the edge of the bowl into the centre, rotating so all the dough is stretched and folded evenly. Repeat the folding so all the dough is stretched and folded for four full rotations of the bowl.

Lightly oil a bowl with a light, neutral oil (canola, sunflower, grapeseed).

Let rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. 

Stretch and fold the dough toward the centre and repeat for two full rotations of the bowl.

Let rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. 

Stretch and fold the dough toward the centre and repeat for two full rotations of the bowl.

Let rest 1 – 2 hours, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. The dough is ready when it feels smooth, and lightly aerated. It will grow in volume by about 20%.

Lightly flour the surface of the dough.  Turn the dough over onto a clean counter. Working gently with the dough, fold the dough into the centre and turn it into a round.

Let the dough rest seam side down on the counter for 30 – 60 minutes covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap.

Coat a loaf pan in oil and dust with flour.

Lightly flour the top of the dough and gently flip it over on the counter so it is seam side up. Shape the dough once again into a round. Place the dough seam side down into a loaf pan. 

Let rise uncovered 2-4 hours before baking, or overnight in the fridge. 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Mist or brush the surface of the dough with water. Place into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 425 degrees. Bake another 20-30 minutes or until the dough sounds hollow to the touch or has an internal temperature of 195F