For my baking class last week I had to grow a sourdough starter in order to make sourdough bread in class. The starter is made from yeast, water, and flour and grows as it’s fed additional flour and water over time. During this process the starter ferments and develops a sour smell and taste.

It looks exactly like what you’d expect flour, water, and yeast to look like. A blob of goo.

I decided that if I was going to have a living organism on my counter top I probably should name it. So I decided to call it My Monster, a la Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and his monster. Mine is almost as scary.

Over the next few days I fed it and moved it back and forth from the fridge and the counter per my instructions. I took it to class and was quite happy to learn that I had done it correctly, and that it had not “died” in my care. I made a loaf of bread with it and was pleased with the results, even though it somewhat exploded in the oven (in true monster form) and didn’t taste all that sour.

I took My Monster home and I’ve continued to feed it. I want to ferment it another week or so and see if that will produce a more sour taste. In case anyone out there is interested in making their own sourdough starter, here’s what you need to do:

Sourdough Starter

Mix together:
1 cup water
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp yeastYou can use basically any container you wish, I opted for a ziplock bag. Let it rest on the counter for 24 hours. After 24 hours, feed the starter with another cup of flour and cup of water. Mix well. Place starter in the fridge for 48 hours. After 48 hours, feed the starter again and place back on counter top. Repeat until fermented as desired, though I’d say no less than 7 days. You can keep feeding this thing forever, taking some out to make bread as needed. Some bakeries have starters that are hundreds of years old!

If the starter ever becomes separated, or frankly, looks like urine, it is dead. You have killed it! Throw it out and start over. Not that mine is perfect, but what you see in the picture is typically what you want- a wet “dough” with lots of bubbles.
San Francisco Sourdough Bread1 Cup warm water
1/2 Ounce active dry yeast
3/4 Cup sourdough starter
1 Pound bread flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 egg

Combine yeast with 3/4 cup of the water. In a mixer fitted with dough hook, mix the remaining water (1/4 cup) and the sourdough starter until combined. Add the yeast mixture and mix for about 5 minutes. Add flour and kosher salt and knead for 10 minutes.

Place dough in a bowl in a warm place and ferment until doubled. Punch down dough, shape, and place on a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal. Brush with egg wash. Proof until nearly doubled again.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

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4 Responses to Sourdough Bread

  1. The Hedges says:

    That sounds like fun, my question is what are the instructions for baking it when you’re ready to?

  2. Melodi says:

    I read My Antonia and it talks about a Bohemian family that was living in Nebraska…you’re thinking and how does this apply? Well it talked about how the family was really poor, etc. The mom would keep the yeast starter in an old tin can and would scrape it out when needed. It sounded gross and sick and super unsanitary and I imagined flakes of tin can mixing in the dough. But reading your blog, sounds like she knew what she was doing. Way to be domestic!

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