My sourdough is literally growing... to the point of having too much bread in the house! Because of my initial reluctance to discard my multiplying starter, we aren't keeping up with the consumption of beautiful bread emerging from the oven. :)
I have made sourdough biscuits, sourdough crepes.. (yum)
How did it all begin?
The most basic and uncomplicated way to begin a sourdough a starter culture is a mixture of flour and water. My first attempt used filtered city water, but I think that contributed to my first fail. Some claim that chlorine in the water may kill any culture you grow. The chlorine is supposed to gas off if the water is left to sit over a 24 hour period, but there was no guarantee the water sitting in my filter was that old.
1. So my second attempt started with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Best to use unbleached, however I'm guessing mine isn't since it doesn't say on the package, and I don't know if unbleached is even available to me here in Madagascar) and a scant 1/4 cup store bought spring water.
2. Leave container on the counter and "Feed" starter every 24 hours. I stirred my starter whenever I thought about it with a wooden spoon. Again, there are claims that touching your starter with metal might inhibit growth. Stirring it incorporates air it, supposedly helping capture yeasts. Every 24 hours I fed the starter with 1/8 Cup water, and 1/4 Cup of flour every 24 hours for approximately 10 days or until it looked like these pictures:
I read that the starter is ready when it starts rising considerably (or doubling) within 4 to 8 hours of a feeding. Mine never did this.
3. Build up the starter and bake.
A basic sourdough recipe calls for 2 and 1/3 cups of starter. So if you are taking a starter out of hibernation from the fridge, you may only begin with 1/4 cup. Feed the starter every 4 to 8 hours, with the ratio of 1/4 cup starter:1/4 Cup Water:1/2 Cup Flour. Or if you have a kitchen scale (the best) 50g starter: 50g water: 50g flour. Keep in mind that with each feeding, you will be increasing amounts but keeping the same ratio. I messed up on this the first time, but it still worked out in the end. However, this means 1/4 cup of starter can lead to a large amount over the course of 3 feedings in 24 hours!
Click here for the recipe post. When baking with sourdough starter, you must allow for a long rise after you knead the dough: 8-24 hours. The longer you let it rise, the better. I have been kneading in the evening, and then letting it rise overnight. This works out perfectly, because then I can bake in the morning and our bread for lunch is good to go!
I also prefer to use a cake pan, so as the bread spreads (it is a very wet and elastic dough) and rises, it doesn't spread out all of the way like a pancake through the night. I find the cake pan helps it keep the bowl shape perfectly.
4. Starter Maintenance. If you won't be baking every day, or even every couple of days, keep your starter in the fridge. Of course this will require more planning since it will take a couple of days from pulling your starter out, to replenishing it, to baking with it. I just keep mine on the counter and feed each evening before I go to bed. That way I always have active fresh starter to work with. If it's kept in the fridge, it should be fed one time per week with the ratios above. You can discard all but a 1/4 cup of starter to keep things from growing out of control, which requires huge feedings.
Many of the tips and recipes I found on www.culturesforhealth.com