I recently received my very own fresh sourdough starter in the mail from the King Arthur Flour Company. It may sound silly but I was super excited; I have wanted to make sourdough for a while now and couldn’t wait to get it started!
I panicked a little when I received my starter because it didn’t come with any instructions. Thankfully the King Arthur Sourdough Starter Tips webpage is beyond comprehensive. I got my ingredients and got to work! (ingredients are listed with each step because the process is a bit long and over a few days)
Combine 1.25 cups warm water and 2 cups King Arthur unbleached AP flour in a bowl.
“Dislodge” sourdough starter from its container with a 1/4 cup warm water and a couple of shakes.
Then pour the starter into the flour/water mixture.
Stir/knead until the mixture comes together. It will be lumpy and not uniform but that’s ok. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
I let my starter sit for about 10 hours while I was at work. Did I mention before that I got up at 6AM to start this process? There must be some kind of badge I earned doing that. Anyway! After 8-12 hours the starter should have risen a bit and be bubbly.
Stir the starter a bit to bring it together. My starter was extremely sticky so this was a little hard to do.
Add 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup King Arthur unbleached AP flour to the bowl and mix to combine. Since the dough was so sticky this was also tough but the instructions say not to stress if it’s not uniform.
Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for another 2-4 hours.
After 2-4 hours divide the starter in half. You can throw the extras away, keep in the fridge, or give to a friend.
Mix the remaining half of the starter with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup King Arthur unbleached AP flour. Again, it was lumpy/hard to fully incorporate but it’s alright. Cover the starter and let it sit at room temperature for another 2-4 hours.
After 2-4 hours stir the starter again, cover loosely, and store in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
That’s it for feeding the starter. Now we’ll move on to actually making the bread. I used the King Arthur Sourdough Baguette recipe:
1.25 cups lukewarm water
2 cups sourdough starter
4-5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. instant yeast
4 tsp. vital wheat gluten (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
I started by measuring out 2 cups of my refrigerated starter and letting it come to room temperature (about an hour on the counter):
Then, in my stand mixer, I combined the water, starter, and flour, mixing with the dough hook attachment until smooth.
I then added the salt, sugar, yeast, and gluten, mixing until the dough pulled away from the sides of the bowl (kneading for about 7-10 more minutes). I then transferred the finished dough into a greased glass bowl.
I covered the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).
I gently kneaded the dough to create two small loaves. I placed the loaves roughly 4″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. For a classic look, make three diagonal slashes in each loaf. I covered the loaves and let them rise for another 2 hours or so until they were nice and puffy.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Bake the baguettes for about 25 minutes, or until they’re a rich golden brown.
The bread came out wonderfully – crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the middle. However, we couldn’t taste the trademark sourdough flavor at all! Kind of disappointing. I feel like the “feeding” process (above) may have diluted it’s flavor. I still have some starter in the fridge and am going to try again soon.
In any case, this bread was the perfect addition to the restaurant quality cheese plate we made at home a few weekends back. I could live on crusty bread and cheese!