Ok I get mastering sourdough in one week is an ambitious goal, but with dedication and the right guidance, you can certainly make significant progress. I had sooo many people that helped along the way (& I’ll link their pages) but I also did a lot of experimenting. I’m keeping the backstories minimal cuz I prefer getting straight to the point. So here’s my week tested, 10 loaves of bread (and counting), tons of waffles, pop tarts, pizza crust, guide to mastering sourdough in 7 days.
NOTE: This guide applies only to those who have been given a starter. If you’re starting from scratch you’ll have to create your initial starter FIRST. From there you can follow this guide.
Gather Your Supplies and Begin Your Starter
Also think of a name for your starter especially if you have more than one, and especially especially if you feel you need a little guidance and luck from your ancestors. (lol) I used names of my Tía, great grandmother, great great grandmother, great great great grandmother and so on.
Ingredients and Equipment:
- 32oz Glass Jar with lid (have multiple on hand)
- Fork or some suggest a Wooden spoon & maybe a spatula :-)
- Filtered water. I personally have a Kangen Water Machine and use 6.0pH slightly acidic water and have had insane amazing results.
- Sharpie or Rubber bands
My mom also ordered this Sourdough Starter Kit With Bread Proofing Basket that also comes in a cheaper option Sourbread Starter Kit (without proofing basket). It's nice because they have everything you need for baking including a bread scoring lame (basically a razor) ... the only thing I would add per recommendation of one of my bestest friends is this KNIFE, later for cutting your bread: trust me on this one lol.
CREATING YOUR STARTER
- Mix equal parts flour and water (e.g., 100g each) in your container.
- Stir until it forms a thick, paste-like consistency.
- Cover loosely and let it sit at room temperature (70-75°F or 21-24°C).
- Mark your jar with a sharpie or use a rubber band around the jar to mark where your starter started.
The temperature of your environment has a significant impact on the fermentation process of your sourdough starter. The activity of the wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria present in the starter is influenced by temperature, affecting both the speed of fermentation and the characteristics of your sourdough.
Since I’m currently in the midwest and it’s freeeeezing outside we kept the thermostat at 70º and I keep the starters near our ice maker that gives off a little warmth. I also am not sure if it matters or not but I did lay a towel under the jars… just felt like it would keep them cozier haha.
From what I’ve researched here's how different temperature ranges can affect your sourdough starter:
- Warm Environments (75-85°F or 24-29°C):
- Faster fermentation: The microbial activity is higher in warmer temperatures, leading to quicker rises and proofs.
- More pronounced sour flavor: Warmer temperatures can enhance the production of acetic acid, contributing to a tangier taste.
- Risk of overactivity: In very warm conditions, there's a risk of the starter becoming too active, potentially leading to over-fermentation or a less desirable texture.
- Moderate Environments (65-75°F or 18-24°C):
- Balanced fermentation: This range is often considered ideal for a balanced flavor profile and a steady rise.
- Manageable activity: The starter is less prone to overactivity compared to warmer environments.
- Slightly slower fermentation: While still active, the process may take a bit longer compared to warmer temperatures.
- Cool Environments (50-65°F or 10-18°C):
- More control over fermentation: The lower temperature slows down the fermentation process, providing better control over the rise.
- Mild flavor development: You may get a milder, less tangy flavor in cooler conditions.
- Slower fermentation: The process can be considerably slower, requiring longer rising and proofing times.
Tips for Managing Temperature Effects:
- Adjust Feeding Frequency:
- In warmer temperatures, you might need to feed your starter more frequently to prevent overactivity.
- In cooler temperatures, consider extending the time between feedings.
- Use a Warmer or Cooler Spot:
- Place your starter in a warmer or cooler spot in your kitchen to influence fermentation.
- Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Experiment and Observe:
- Pay attention to your starter's behavior in different temperatures.
- Adjust your feeding schedule and starter maintenance based on the seasonal changes.
- Consider Using a Temperature-Controlled Environment:
- If you're consistently facing challenges due to extreme temperatures, consider using a proofing box or finding a stable spot in your home.
FEED YOUR STARTER...
FIRST CHECK FOR SIGNS OF FERMENTATION
- Look for bubbles and a slightly sour smell.
- You may see a rise and fall in the starter.
I know with only 1 week of mastering sourdough I still have a long way to go. However, I played around and even though this might go against the rules, these next steps worked for me. Many resources will say to discard half but I was in a bread making mood and also had the question "do i have to discard so much?". So basically I didn’t... I just made double starter or made double bread dough.
In a new jar I created a new starter with this recipe.
- 30g of starter
- 125g of H2O
- 140g of flour
- I combined the starter and water first and mixed together with a fork.
- Then I added the flour and mixed with a fork until the mixture became tacky.
- Next use a sharpie or rubber band to mark your starters starting point. I even write the time I fed it last on the back of the jar.
- Repeat every 12 hours.
AFTER FEEDING YOUR 1st JAR YOU HAVE 3 OPTIONS…
- Start a second jar to feed (like if you have a big family or even wanna experiment like I did)
- Use some of the starter to make a loaf of bread
- Discard the rest or you can look up some fun discard recipes to bake using the discard. To clarify "discard" can be thrown away but who wants to be wasteful when you can make even yummier recipes? I made waffles, pop tarts, and pizza dough.
THE NEXT DAY…
- You should see visible bubbles and your starter will have grown past your starting marker.
- It should also pass the "float test": drop a small amount in water; if it floats, it's ready.
If I’m being honest I haven’t done the float test, I get too excited and then forget every single time…. Yet still my bread has turned out amazing.
So if your dough has expanded and you see lots of bubble activity it’s time to prepare your bread!!!
SOURDOUGH BREAD RECIPE
This is the exact recipe I’ve followed https://littlespoonfarm.com/sourdough-bread-recipe-beginners-guide/
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Consistency is Key: keep a notebook of your feeding times if it helps
- Stick to a regular feeding schedule.
- Keep your starter in a warm, draft-free area.
- If it seems too watery on the top add a little more flour. I had a jar that was too watery (because I didn’t measure, I was experimenting) and adding flour to make it more tacky = it activating.
Adjust hydration levels, fermentation times, and temperatures to find what works best for you. This honestly was the funnest part to me. I started out sooo scared and then it turned into a big play session.
LEARN EACH BATCH
- I named my jars after great grandmas, great great grandmas, and my Tía. I think their energy helped them thrive :-).
- Note changes in flavor, texture, and rise with each bake.
- I repeat! Don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
- Sourdough is a journey, and each loaf teaches you something new. I kept telling friends if you want to learn patience and how to meditate make sourdough. It’s an active meditation!
- Don’t get discouraged; keep experimenting and learning.
By following this week-long guide, experimenting, baking, you’ll develop a strong foundation for your sourdough baking skills. Remember, practice makes perfect, so embrace the learning process and enjoy the delicious results of your efforts!
She’s SUCH a gem and so encouraging along the way. She also has tons of recipes that I’ll be 100000% making at some point.
Her food blog point 👇
Her videos gave me the visual I needed to just f’ing do it! Yet another amazing woman who whips up all her own food, cans all her goods, and is just a really amazing teacher.
@ourenglishfarmhouse was sooo helpful & informative with all my questions in her comments. I’ve really been surprised at how warm everyone is in the sourdough community and it’s charming to have complete strangers want to help you and see you succeed.
The last HUGELY helpful sitch is this amazingly wonderful Facebook group my mama found called Sourdough For Beginners. You can search questions you have or just ask and the gang will come to your rescue, love on your mistakes, or be there to digi-pat you on the back with your wins.
I also have kept track of my journey in a SOURDOUGH HIGHLIGHT on my own instagram @desiraecherie…