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Sourdough Starter and Leaven

Lemonkerdz was once a baker by profession. Now she enjoys baking at home for family and friends.

If you can make a good starter, you can get a beautiful crusty loaf.

If you can make a good starter, you can get a beautiful crusty loaf.

Sourdough Starter Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter

Sourdough Starter Instructions

  1. In a large jar (not plastic), mix the ingredients well. It should have the consistency of a thick milkshake. If it's too thick, add a bit of water. If it's too thin, add a bit of flour. Remember, all flours have different hydration points, and the different seasons can also affect the process slightly.
  2. If you make your mix in the morning, cover the jar with a cloth but without its lid. Leave the jar on the counter to catch all the natural microbes in the air.
  3. In the evening, check to see if your mix shows signs of bubbles. Add about 2 heaped tablespoons of flour and a little warm water and mix well to the same thick milkshake consistency. Leave overnight covered with a cloth.
  4. The starter will rise and may even overflow past the limit of your jar.

How Do I Know if My Starter Is Ready?

Do the float test. Take one teaspoon of your mix and gently push it off your spoon into a glass of water and see what happens.

  • If it floats: Your starter is ready to move onto the next stage and make your leaven (sponge) to add to your bread dough mix.
  • If it sinks: It's not ready. But don't worry! Keep feeding it with flour and water before you go to bed and try again in the morning. Repeat this process until it floats. You may have to tip some of the mix away depending on how big your jar is.
Starter should show signs of life

Starter should show signs of life

Do I Need to Feed My Sourdough Starter Daily?

To get it started, yes. But once you have an active starter—that is, one that passes the float test—then you can put it into a jar with a sealed lid and place it in the fridge for a week. You can then take it out and feed it weekly with flour and water testing to make sure it's active before storing it in the refrigerator for another week.

You will need to take it out of the refrigerator and activate the starter a day before you plan on making your bread.

Don't throw away excess starter! You can use it to make sourdough crumpets.

Sourdough Leaven Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active sourdough starter
  • 75 grams (1/3 cup) slightly warm water
  • 75 grams all-purpose flour
Leaven or sponge ready for use

Leaven or sponge ready for use

Sourdough Leaven Instructions

  1. In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of active sourdough starter.
  2. Add the flour and water and mix to form a thick paste. Cover with a cloth and leave it at room temperature overnight.
  3. You will know if the leaven has worked if the following morning it shows signs of being bubbly. If it is, congratulations! You are ready to move on and make your first sourdough bread.