You might wondering "why should I care about making my own starter?" Well a starter is a great way to make bread like our ancestors did for thousands of years, and more importantly it's easier to digest, and in my opinion way tastier!
A starter uses the natural yeast found on wheat, in the air, and quite frankly just about everywhere, to create a leavening agent. It takes a few days to make, but if cared for it can be with you for life, helping you make bread that's bakery fresh.
Make your starter
To make your starter you'll need four things:
1. A container
2. Something to cover the container to prevent your starter from drying out (a loose lid or lightly damp towel both work great!)
Optional: Kitchen scale
Note: It takes five days to make your starter! It takes a few days for the yeast to fully develop, but the good news is you only have to do this multi-day process once! After this, you'll just have to give yourself time to feed your starter.
Day One: Prepping
Mix equal parts flour and water in the container (ideally by weight). I weigh 100g flour and 100g water (you can use 1 Cup Flour and 1 Cup Water). Let it sit overnight with the cover ajar. Ideally you'll let your starter sit a full 12 hours.
Day Two: Feeding
Start today by throwing away half of your freshly made starter. Yes, you heard that right. After scooping out half the starter, add new water and flour back in. Example: If you started with 200g, throw away 100g, and add 50g of flour and 50g of water.
Day Three: Feed
Day Three is where the magic happens. Your starter should have grown in size. You should see a lot of expansion. The smell should be more aromatic. There should be bubbles and air pockets.
Repeat the feeding process from Day Two on Day Three. Remove approximately half the starter and feed her new ingredients.
Day Four: Feed again
Day Four your starter should be bubbly and airy -- almost like a thick liquid. It'll stick to the sides of your container and deflate when touched. Remove half of your starter and discard again. This time when you go to feed your starter add in enough flour and water to make your first bread recipe! (typically 100g Flour, 100g Water)
Day Five: Bake
Finally! I know, right? It takes a few days for the yeast to fully develop, but the good news is you only have to do this multi-day process once. From here you can start using your starter to make bread. Take out what you need for whatever recipe or bread type you're making. Just make sure to save at least 25 to 50g of your starter for future use. You can put it to sleep in the fridge for up to a month, but the more you use it the better.
I like to label my container so I know when I first made my starter, our's is named Adelaide!
Leaving dough in the fridge slows down how fast your starter is eating/reproducing. The yeast quite literally "goes to sleep" in the cold. When you want to make bread again, put it out on the counter and feed. From here on out, you're starting on Day Four of the instructions.
Note: For best taste/results wait until your freshly fed starter has doubled in size and has a slight acidic smell.
Click here to read more about how to maintain your starter.