Easiest Sourdough Starter Recipe for Making Sourdough Bread 4


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Sourdough baking is as old as bread baking itself. Before the widespread manufacturing of commercial yeast, nearly all rural bread bakers would have utilized either a sourdough starter or a natural leavening from beer brewing or other sources to make sourdough bread and baked goods.

Baking sourdough bread is easy and delicious. This basic sourdough starter recipe is the perfect place to begin with your sourdough baking!

These natural leavening agents have many advantages over the commercial yeast breads but the primary one is the time and fermentation lacking with modern yeast usage. Naturally leavened breads take time to achieve loft and during that time the bread is imbued with organic acids, the grains are broken down into more digestible constituents, and the sourdough bread is given really delicious flavor.

All that is needed to create your own homemade leavening is flour and water. Many starters are available commercially and can work but I love the simplicity of catching these wild organisms in my own kitchen.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when beginning to delve into sourdough bread baking is that if your starter isn’t working well, your bread will be disappointing. Creating a large yeast colony alongside the prolific bacterial colony is critical to well-risen loaves. Choosing the right flours or switching flours is important. Understanding the needs of a sourdough starter and how it can be cared for daily or less frequently are helpful. Everything you need to know about baking with natural leavening, including other forms of homemade yeast and gluten-free sourdough baking, can be found in my book Traditionally Fermented Foods.

Baking sourdough bread is easy and delicious. This basic sourdough starter recipe is the perfect place to begin with your sourdough baking!

Sourdough starter recipe

Day 1: Combine a half cup of flour with a scant half cup of water. Stir vigorously to incorporate air. Cover with a breathable lid and allow to sit in a warm space for 12 hours. Repeat feeding with same quantities of flour and water.

Baking sourdough bread is easy and delicious. This basic sourdough starter recipe is the perfect place to begin with your sourdough baking!

Days 2 & 3: Continue feeding starter as above at the same 12 hour intervals. By the third day a bit of life should show up. There should be bubbles. A sour smell will begin to be evident.

Baking sourdough bread is easy and delicious. This basic sourdough starter recipe is the perfect place to begin with your sourdough baking!

Days 4, 5, & 6: Continue feeding starter as above, but discard all but 1/2 cup of the starter just before you feed it. (There are plenty of good uses for “discarded starter” in the Grains chapter of my book.) You should now see and smell signs of sourdough. More bubbles are forming, the starter is growing in volume in between feedings, etc.

Baking sourdough bread is easy and delicious. This basic sourdough starter recipe is the perfect place to begin with your sourdough baking!

Time for sourdough bread!

Day 7: Your starter should now be very airy when it hits its peak, 4-8 hours after a feed. Continue feeding as on days 4-6 and feel free to start baking! Continue to feed once per day going forward, if the starter sits at room temperature. Alternatively, you can store it in a refrigerator and remove to bake with it once per week. Just be sure to remove it 24 hours before mixing up your dough so you can feed it and let it come to room temperature.

And if you’re looking to get started, these Simple Overnight Sourdough Rolls are an easy first baking project.

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About Shannon Stonger

Shannon Stonger is the founder of the blog Nourishing Days, where she shares her family's journey towards sustainability. She is the author of the sourdough baking book 100% Rye and released Traditionally Fermented Foods in May 2017. She holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and lives with her husband, five children, and various farm animals on their five-acre homestead in Texas.


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4 thoughts on “Easiest Sourdough Starter Recipe for Making Sourdough Bread

  • Sandra

    I have been baking a great bread with freshly ground wheat berries and would like to start using sourdough starter in the place of the yeast. Since the recipe makes 5 loaves at a time, how do I make sure I have enough starter when it comes time to make bread. I only bake about once a month as I keep the extras in the freezer and there are only 2 adults in my home.

    By the way, I purchased your book, Traditionally Fermented Foods and I love the ferments I’ve tried using your recipes. Thanks

  • Aubrey

    Do you have a schedule for using your sourdough starter? I’m curious how you use it regularly. In the past, I just make pancakes or bread when I feel like it, but inevitable I kill my starter or it gets infected with bad mold. Do you do something like…Every Saturday make English muffins or bagels (make extras to freeze?), Tuesdays bake loaf of bread, Thursdays make another item like muffins or tortillas? How often does one need to use their sourdough if they want to leave it sit out on the counter every day? I’ve seen some people that keep a nice big healthy jar on their counters and seeing it makes me feel happy. I would love to have that at home! One more question…do you have a favorite jar to keep your starter in long term? I put mine in my 1-quart Pyrex measuring bowl to start with, but long term I’ll need that back.

  • Sheila Stephenson

    Can you use rice or coconut flour or another gluten free flour to make this starter?

    • Kris Bordessa

      You can experiment. I’ve not tried it personally.