The Sourdough Starter

Meet Carrie (full name Carrie Breadshaw). Carrie is a 6 month-old 100% rye Sourdough starter. Although she is young, she has a feisty temperament, a sweet disposition and always enjoys an overnight feed.

Starters, also known as leaven, pre-ferment, mother or sponge, are often given a name by their parent baker, as they sometimes exist for months, years or even decades and require a lot of care. A starter is a fermented mixture of flour and water (50% flour, 50% water), which contains microorganisms including wild yeast and lactobacilli. It will usually ferment for a period of time and allow sourdough bread to rise and give it that characteristic sour tang.

If you fancy making your own, it's the easiest thing in the world and it's really not all that scary. All you need is bread flour, water, time and a whole lot of TLC.

Here's how to make a starter:

We like to use rye flour for most of our Sourdough recipes. Rye flour provides increased fibre and nutrients similar to whole-wheat flour, but because of its lower gluten amount we find it easier to stir. But you can equally use whole-wheat and/or strong white bread flour - whatever you can get your hands on. A good ratio is 50% flour to 50% water. Start with small amounts (25g flour / 25 g water) so you don't end up with a tub of starter that you'll need to discard. Warm water is best as bacteria thrive in warm environments. Feed it the same amount everyday for 5 days and on Day 5 you'll have a perfectly ripe and ready starter to make your Sourdough bread with. Make sure you put in the fridge after you've used it and remember to feed it once a week. If you plan to bake the next morning, take your starter out of the fridge, give it a good feed and leave to ferment at room temperature overnight (8-12 hours).

You can use starter to make anything Sourdough. So try it with bread, try it with pizza dough, try it with cinnamon buns. The possibilities are endless! And remember to take a photo of your awesome creations and tag us with @goodinbread and #goodinbread to be in with the chance to win free bread or a free custom Good In Bread loaf bag.