Bread is something I eat sparingly, but I love the idea of baking my own bread. I’ve done it before and I’ve even used starter before, but that was many years ago. The starter I used back then had sugar in it and it made the most delicious loaves of bread. These days I avoid sugar and carbs… so let’s make bread!
I figured why not begin a starter again? The first time, the starter was given to me, so I didn’t have to begin it myself. I just fed it and used it to bake.
The first starter I tried was Paul Hollywood’s apple starter (and watched a video about it too), which called for 4 cups of flour. It ended up a disaster, and I threw it away. Do not cover your starter tightly… the gasses have to be able to escape. The top of that starter was looking pinkish after a few days, and that is not good.
After looking around online, and finding so much conflicting advice about starter, I jumped in and did what I thought might work, using less flour to begin with. A lot less. This sourdough page at SeriousEats would have helped me quite a bit – if only I’d come across it weeks ago.
I put my largest, and last, batch of starter into this big blue container. I didn’t get a photo the next morning, but it had risen about an inch and looked good. It was ready to use.
Here We Go
If you are ever interested in beginning a starter and making some bread, I will be listing exactly what I did right here on this page. I’m writing this for myself also, as a reminder of my sourdough starter adventure and the things I would change if I ever make this bread again. That’s right, it’s a lot of work and mess, so unless this bread is something super fabulous (the dough is rising as I write), I will not make this bread recipe again! But… I may use this starter to make another type of bread, like that sweet bread I used to make.
Making the starter is a bit messy also, but may be worth it depending on how the bread is.
This is what I did, mistakes and all.
- DAY 1: To begin the starter, mix 1 Cup regular, unbleached flour (I used regular flour for all feedings), 1 Cup warm water, a little honey. (The honey was my choice, you don’t need it.) Pour into a mason jar (2 cup, wide mouth) and cover with lid and saran or wax paper, with a few holes in the top. The starter sits out on the countertop – not refrigerated.
- DAY 2: Do nothing but observe. By the afternoon it was up about an inch. I put a little piece of food label tape on the side of the jar to mark the level. That way I could see if it was rising or not.
- DAY 3: Stirred. Removed 1/2 cup starter and dumped out the rest. Mixed with 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water and a little honey. Dumped back into Mason jar. It began to separate with liquid on top, so I stirred it. At this point I was not adding enough flour, I assume – see Day 5.
- DAY 4: AM – Did feeding as above, Day 3. Fed again at night by stirring in 1 spoonful of flour. Didn’t figure out the ratio until Day 5.
- DAY 5: Discovered that the ratio should be (according to someplace online) to mix equal measurements of starter and water, and then double that for the flour. Mixed 1/2 cup of starter (discarded remainder), 1/2 C. water, and 1 Cup flour. Starter was bubbly, not much rise.
- DAY 6: Same as day 5. Once I began adding more flour, I didn’t have the “hooch” liquid on top again. The liquid forming means that the starter is hungry and needs to be fed.
- DAY 7: Same, remove 1/2 c. starter and mix with 1/2 cup water, 1 c. flour and put back into a container. I switched out Mason jars at some point to wash the first one. The starter was not rising much, so this mason jar (2 cup) was the perfect size.
- DAY 8: Saw a bigger rise in the AM. Saved more starter since I need 2 1/3 cups of starter for the bread recipe, and the starter seems ready. This time I removed 1 cup starter to mix with 1 cup water, and 2 cups flour. I left this in the bowl I mixed it in and covered for overnight.
- DAY 9: In the PM I did the same as day 8, mixing 1:1:2, and adding a little honey. I put it into a big plastic container. The leftover starter did not get thrown away this time – I put it into a mason jar, covered tightly, to store in the fridge. It will have to be fed once a week to stay good.
- DAY 10: 9:00AM – Made the dough, combining 2 1/3 C. starter, 3 1/3 C. bread flour, and scant Tbsp. salt. See the video / recipe on YouTube.
The ingredients were mixed together with a spoon then turned out onto a mat to knead. This dough was extremely sticky. Ridiculously sticky! It stuck to the mat, to my hands, and although I put flour down constantly, it would turn sticky again quickly. By the way, you will use LOADS OF WATER to rinse everything off. I ended up taking my pastry mat outside to hose it down. Here’s a video about sticky dough and how to knead it. I definitely need a scraper.
Because this dough was so godawful sticky this whole experience turned me off. I enjoy kneading dough, but this stuff was not fun. Clean up is pretty awful as well. Every bowl, mat, utensil, and measuring cup must be rinsed thoroughly or washed immediately.
I kneaded it for 20 minutes, cut it in half, shaped the dough and put in Ghee-greased bread pans. Now the 2 pans are covered with towels for the loaves to rise. Next I will bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
After waiting for ten hours, and also using the Proof setting on my oven for a couple hours, the bread did not rise much. I baked it anyway and got two relatively flat loaves. It is edible and certainly tastes homemade. I can taste the sourness and toasted it would be delicious.
My plan is to slice and freeze it, after I make some french toast for breakfast. Bread keeps for 3-6 months in the freezer.