If you know someone who has an active starter or you are able to buy a dried sourdough starter you can get set up within a day (rather than the multiple weeks it would otherwise take).
A word of caution: sourdough purists will think this is cheating and that the arduous process to get a Starter established is a rite of passage for this type of baking. I don’t think you need to be too concerned by that, just focus on the great things you will bake! If you would rather go through the traditional method we have a walkthrough here.
What you will need
- Container that your Starter will live in – the container needs to hold at least 1 liter and will spend plenty of time in your refrigerator so make sure it’s something that will fit in easily. Also, consider having more than one of these containers available as it’s helpful to transfer to an alternate container every x weeks so you can clean the container that’s been in use. Clear glass preserving jars work well.
- Electronic kitchen scales – even if you decide not to go ahead with sourdough starters and baking you should have a set of electronic kitchen scales.
- Adjustable method to mark the height of the contents of your container – This could be a whiteboard marker but a large rubber band works really well (this is also another vote for using a clear glass preserving jar container)
- Measuring spoons or similar for adding flour to your Starter – you’ll be doing measurements by weight, not volume so the most important detail about this part is to make it easy to add the flour into the opening of your container. If you always spill a little flour onto the lip of the container opening, it will quickly get to the point of needing a proper clean.
Overview of process
- Place your Starter container onto electronic scales and zero the reading.
- Add 100g of lukewarm water to the container (The first time that you do this add another 50g of water)
- Add 100g of flour to the container (The first time that you do this add another 50g of flour)
- Add a heaped tablespoon of live Starter or a few grams of dried starter which has been soaked in 50ml of water for 30 minutes.
- Mix contents well, a bread knife works well
- Mark the height of the contents on the container
- Leave container to sit on the kitchen countertop for around an hour with the lid off.
- Place the lid on and leave the container for 4 -6 hours (if your kitchen is a little cold then it will be closer to the 6 hour mark.
- If there are a bunch of bubbles and the mixture has doubled in size then your starter is established! (this should happen on your first attempt – if in the very unlikely case that this doesn’t happen then you should reset and start again).
- Your starter is now ready to use for baking (as in within an hour).
- Shift to a Starter maintenance process.
- Water by the gram? I know it sounds weird to describe a water measurement as 100g as opposed to 100ml but your mindset here is to do everything by weight)
- Don’t tip starter down the drain – starter can be like concrete in your pipes, put it in the trash!
- Do I have to throw so much away? – Sorry but yes. Once your starter is established there’s a bunch of great recipes that can use this waste but in these first few weeks, there really isn’t any other option.
- Remember to keep the process going – one consequence of this shortcut is that you don’t have the (frankly tedious) loop of days of feeding your starter and this means you aren’t used to doing it yet. Check out our Sourdough Starter Maintenance page to see how to look after your starter from now on as well as some hints and tips to make this as easy as possible.