You did it, Chase!
Chase made the best Sourdough in MN in 2023
A Special Note and Award Winning Recipe
from our 2023 Champ
Greetings, friends, and many screams to you! Since winning the 2023 Sourdough Contest (Extravaganza), I've signed a major book deal, sat on a panel addressing flour economics and a potential crisis on the horizon, and have taken two vacations with New-Mi. While I'm aware our blossoming romance will end once her eye is uncontrollably drawn to the 2024 winner in approximately 11 months, I'm forever grateful for the time we're spending together. I'm also grateful for the immense fun I've had attending Scream it Off Screen, and participating in the sourdough contest (extravaganza). You all are the best.
Enough about me, you want to make sourdough you need a starter! I remember when my friend started baking bread years ago, I gawked at how impressive their starter was. Turns out, it’s really not too hard (but still EXTREMELY impressive!!!). Fear not, today I will teach you the ways.
I should note that the rest of the article is serious. As you saw in the contest, I do not mix bread and humor.
The first step, like any hobby, is researching what special stuff you need. In this case, that basically amounts to a food scale, a jar (or two), and nice flour. Before we get started on the recipe, I have some thoughts about each:
Literally doesn’t matter just get one that’s cheap and works
Use a jar that’s loosely airtight! I went over to a friend’s house recently and they showed me their starter living in a small mason jar, with a fully tightened metal lid. Starter can grow 3-4x in size, and the air inside is getting pressurized and could explode, so you want something that can let out that pressure on its own. While you do want an airtight fit, just make sure it’s not an airlock fit.
I REALLY like Weck jars for keeping starter - do yourself a favor and get a two pack (https://www.amazon.com/Weck-Canning-Jars-743-Eco-Friendly/dp/B08D3YDKT5).
There are lots of reasons this jar is so good for starter:
LID: it’s got that sweet sweet lid that I love and will not cause explosions.
SIZE: perfect for the amount of starter you’re maintaining, both at rest and when actively growing.
SHAPE: tall and straight, which I find reaaaaally nice when you’re mixing flour and water
ELEGANT: looks NICE
King Arthur Bread Flour is good!!! (“Bread flour” means higher protein, which is better for sourdough)
Bobs Red Mill is good for special flours like rye
Now that we have that out of the way, I’m going to explain how I start my starter, and then how I feed it.
- STARTING YOUR STARTER -
QUICK AND DIRTY OPTION:
Don’t want to wait a week or two before having starter that you can use for baking sourdough? Just go to a bakery and ask them for some of theirs! They’ll usually either give it to you for free or sell it to you. I wasn’t actively baking and needed some in a rush, and purchased a mature starter from Turtle Bread (across the street from the Parkway Theater) for $5.
I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF OPTION:
Follow the guide below for “feeding your starter”, but the very first time, just leave out the step where you discard the old starter, problem solved.
- FEEDING YOUR STARTER -
I’ve tried a lot of different techniques and recipes, and the process I’ve ended up with is a result of picking and choosing the things that have worked best for me.
Here are the tools you’ll need for my method… but feel free to work with what you’ve got:
Small rubber spatula
A single chopstick
And here are the ingredients:
80g Bread flour
20g Rye (the colony loves rye but you can sub bread flour)
DISCARD OLD STARTER
So the first step will be discarding MOST of your old starter, while leaving a little bit. This step is critical because it’s how you build a strong wild yeast and bacteria colony over generations. You want maybe 2-4 tablespoons of starter left over in the jar — I always eyeball it but feel free to get specific. If you do get specific, you should weigh your jar ahead of time so you can calculate the weight of the remaining discard.
A NOTE ON STARTER DISCARD:
You can throw it away… oooooor you can make a tasty “starter pancake” by just dumping it onto a pan. It’s totally edible and has a nice fermented flavor. I sprinkle Za’atar on mine and eat it with an egg in the morning.
Next, put your jar on a food scale and tare.
Next, use your measuring cup to slowly add 80g of bread flour and 20g rye. Try to be specific here, because you’re aiming for a 1:1 ratio of flour and water.
Next, use your measuring cup to add 100g water.
A NOTE ON MINNEAPOLIS TAP WATER:
Our tap water is disinfected with chloramine, so using water straight from the tap might produce inferior results. I like to put my water through a Brita filter to try to help get rid of chloramine, but I think you can also leave water out for 24 hrs and chlorine content will dissolve.
MIX IT ALL UP
For this, there is no better tool I’ve found than a single chopstick. I heard about this technique on a YouTube video a while back and sure enough, it works like a charm. Mix everything nicely, and then use the rubber spatula to get starter off the walls of the jar.
If you did everything right, it should have the consistency of warm peanut butter.
LEAVE IT ON THE COUNTER
Starter likes ~80 degrees temp, so leave it by a sunny window in the summer, or in the oven with the oven light on in the winter.
WATCH IT GROW
It should expand 2x the size in around 4-8 hours.
Repeat daily if you’re actively making bread. If not, you can also put it in the fridge and feed about once every week.
Thank you for reading!
PS - looking for a good recipe for beginners? I love the website “The Perfect Loaf,” run by a guy named Maurizio. He has a beginner sourdough recipe I love: https://www.theperfectloaf.com/beginners-sourdough-bread/