Updated: Mar 30, 2020
I want to show you the simple process that I use to make a new sourdough starter at home. All you need is some rye flour, warm water, and patience.
I want this process to feel simple for you, as it is designed for someone at home and not a professional setting that demands consistency.
No need to obsess or worry about exact temperatures, because you will succeed through trial and error and by getting to know your home environment.
In a nutshell, it takes about 5 feedings for me to be able to build a levain from this starter and to make the bread rise. Your daily process will be very simple. The pictures above are sequential, from day one to five, and are all taken at the point of maturity when it is ready for another feeding.
I have had great success with readily available rye flours like King Arthur and Arrowhead Mills.
What You'll Need:
500 grams Organic Rye Flour
500 grams warm water
What You Need to Do:
Day One: Mix 100 grams of rye flour and 100 grams of water. I mix with a fork. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
Day Two: You will probably see some sort of activity depending on how warm your kitchen is. The smell may not be so pleasant. Throw away half of the mixture (try to essentially keep 100 grams) and feed another 100 grams of rye flour and 100 grams of water and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
Day Three: You may see the markings from a "rise and fall" of the new starter, along with nice bubbles and pockets. This is good. The smell should be getting a bit more bearable. Repeat the process of step 2.
Day Four: There will definitely be a good volume increase and a consistent amount of bubbling and air pockets. You should have a somewhat sweet and sour smell that is pleasant. You're in the home stretch. Repeat step 2 one more time.
Day Five: By day five, you have a ripe and sweet-smelling sourdough starter. You should see some movement of the bubbles when you move the container and a structure when you stir it. You are ready to build a levain. Alternatively, you can continue this process for a couple more days until you achieve the proper aroma and strength.
My Go To Levain
You will see in my recipes that I use the same levain, or a slightly modified version of it when I mix bread. Whether the final bread is enriched, sweet, or rustic, I find this levain build to work the same. There are many, many ways to build a levain but I believe using this one build makes life at home easy.
85 grams mature sourdough starter
150 grams King Arthur Organic Bread Flour
50 grams King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat Flour
175 grams warm water
Mix these in a container with a fork and let rest at room temperature. It should be ready to mix in about 3-4 hours. Check out my bread recipes that you can use this levain in.
*Note that my ambient temperature for both of these processes is usually somewhere around 72-75 Fahrenheit.