This week I am giving you a primer on bread starters. Today we are going to be talking about whole wheat sourdough starters. Many people pass by breads that call for a starter, since it adds extra time and steps to bread baking. I freely admit that I used to be one of those people. But I highly recommend you give these breads a try.
What is a bread starter?
A bread starter is a combination of flour and water that is set aside to gain flavor. The traditional starter is a created by equal parts flour and warm water set out to develop naturally occurring yeast. Through trial and error the mixture is checked to see if it starts to bubble. Sometimes you catch the yeast, sometimes you don’t. When you finally get something that bubbles, you’ve got the makings of a starter!
Fun Fact: Some starters from artisan bakeries are 100+ years old the same goes with started passed down in families.
Once you have the starter put together some recipes call for adding more flour and water to part of the mix for a certain amount of days. This is called feeding.
There are lots of recipes for starter. Some people include store bought yeast and some call for throwing out half, others require daily feedings. Whatever you choose to use, just follow the directions. You can even take a bit of a shortcut and buy your starter.
–Bakeries will sell you their starter, just ask around
–King Arthur Flour has some options
–Family might have starter they are willing to pass down to you
Once your starter has started to bubble, you have 2 options. Store it for later or bake with it. Most starters are stored in the refrigerator and then brought back to room temperature before they are used again. Usually this process means “feeding” the starter by adding more flour and water and letting it get bubbly again.
The nice thing about working with a starter is, once you start there is no stopping you. You always have some in the fridge and can get started pretty quick You can usually revive a stored starter by feeding it and waiting about 12-24 hours until it gets frothy, simple!
Why Use Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter?
If you are a sourdough fan, you need to climb aboard the starter train. The sooner the better! The starter is what give the sourdough it’s sour and acts as a natural preservative. Meaning the bread doesn’t go stale as fast.
Stay tuned for this week’s video where I make a whole wheat sourdough bread with a starter and all. I am featuring a cheaters method I use to reduce the lead time. It’s really easy, and only takes a tiny bit of advanced planning.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my basic introduction to whole wheat sourdough starters. If you found today’s article interesting and helpful, and know someone who could benefit from information on baking delicious breads and step by step videos on baking with whole grains, please share with them today!