Updated: Apr 30, 2020
I have been meaning to start a sour dough starter for ages!! It has taken a lockdown to do it (even though I have less time on my hands now due to lack of childcare!!). I used to order my expensive artisan sourdough bread to be delivered and due to the pandemic my order was 10 days late. This was the push I needed!
I started my starter dough, and now there is no going back!
I ran out of gluten free bread flour half way through the week, and it was not available anywhere. I went to 5 supermarkets / shops to look as my hungry sourdough needed a feed!. Clearly everyone is baking bread right now! When I couldn't get the gluten free bread flour I blended my own mix to continue feeding the starter by mixing 350g rice flour, 75 g tapioca flour, 75g potato flour and a teaspoon of xantham gum. (Total guess work on how best I felt the flours would blend, based on my experience of using them previously!)
Gluten free bread flour.
(Flavouring for the flatbread made out of the discard - salt, and either rosemary, or onion seeds)
Measure out 1 cup of gluten free flour and 3/4 cup of warm filtered water.
Whisk the flour and water together in a clean ceramic bowl that is large enough to allow the dough to rise as it ferments
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave for 24 hours in a warm place
Measure out half a cup of gluten free flour and 3/8ths of a cup of warm filtered water.
Set aside half a cup of the fermented flour mix onto a side plate. You will be able to use this discard for making quick flatbread
Feed your original starter by adding the new flour and water and whisking until fully mixed.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave on the side in a warm place for another 24 hours
DAY 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Repeat the steps above for day 2. By day 7 your starter is ready to make bread! It should have some bubbles and a yeasty smell. (It should not have gone mouldy!)
Flatbreads made from discard (can make from day 2 onwards):
Add salt, and either rosemary or onion seeds to the discarded dough, and mix into the dough on your side plate
Pre-heat a flat non stick pancake pan on the gas hob
Using a spoon dollop the discard onto the hot pan, and spread into a patty (about 1 cm thick). You don't need to add any oil the pan.
Cover the pan with a with a lid, turn the heat down low and cook for 2 minutes per side. It shouldn't burn. If you burn it then your heat was too high!
Your flat bread will appear like a small naan bread in shape
If you are not going to make bread regularly then your starter can take a holiday in the fridge (feeding it once per week) and then bring it out onto the counter and feed it for a couple of days before re-using for baking. If you will be making bread continuously and feeding it daily then it can live on the counter!
I don't get too hung up on measuring ratios of flour to water. Rather I aim to keep the same consistency roughly.
This is what my dough looks like after a feed:
This is what it looks like after a 24 hour rest. (It is more solid after fermenting, and you see some bubbles):
TROUBLE SHOOTING TIPS
It is really important to get the storage temperature right. You need to keep your sourdough starter between 21 degrees C to 29 degrees C. An airing cupboard makes an ideal climate. I started my first starter during a warm spell, where the kitchen stayed warm day and night. However when the temperature dropped (as it frequently does in the UK!!) then my poor starter grew mould and had to be binned and I had to wait for my new starter to be ready!
Frequency of feeding
Once every 24 hours is the bare minimum. I actually like to try to feed my starter twice per day since I had a mould fail! When the starter runs out of flour to feed on, and when it is too cold that is when mould can start.
Every few days I switch the bowl that my starter lives in. I had one mistake where I left flour mix up the side of the bowl, and it grew a mould just on the side of the bowl. It was easy to rescue by switching to a new bowl because the mould hadn't affected anywhere else. If you mix your sides in every day then that shouldn't happen, but now I just like to switch bowls every now and then as a precaution!