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Sourdough starter with recipe

The sourdough bread making process begins with just flour and water – and the creation of the sourdough starter, which can be the consistency of a liquid batter or a stiff dough, depending on your recipe and method.

The sourdough starter is the leavening agent that replaces the edition of commercial yeast, and is crucial to helping the bread rise during baking.

Before we look at the starter recipe for our sourdough recipe, it’s best to learn a bit more about what the starter is, how important it is and some tips for creating the perfect sourdough starter.

What is the sourdough starter?

The sourdough starter is simply the mix of flour and water which, when fed over a number of days, slowly ferments, combining with the natural yeasts and friendly bacteria found in the flour itself and from just being exposed to the air.

The natural yeast within the starter eventually consumes all the carbohydrates in the flour and converts them into carbon dioxide, which gives the sourdough its signature bubble-like texture once baked.

While it might seem a bit of a strange concept at first, once you get used to what's involved in creating a sourdough starter I can guarantee you'll get quite addicted to the process!

I know many sourdough enthusiasts who keep a sourdough starter going all year round.



How to make a sourdough starter

The ingredients of any sourdough starter are always the same: flour and water.

As you get more experienced and confident, the amount, type and precise mix of flour and water can be altered to suit your tastes.

In the recipe below we’ll be using a strong white bread flour, which is commonly available in the UK. 

“Strong flour” usually means that the flour has a protein level between 11% to 14% which is usually mentioned on the label – if you are unsure or you want to check.

One of the joys of sourdough bread making is in the experimentation – using different flours and amounts of water and variations of the feeding process.


What kind of jar should I use for my starter?

I get many people asking me what kind of jar or pot to use to put the starter in.

When I discovered an old friend had started to make stunning pottery I commissioned her to see if she could make a fermenting pot for me to keep my sourdough starter in.

Alternatively, you can use a large kilner jar to keep your starter in or you can just use a recycled large beetroot jar. 

Just make sure before you use it has been cleaned thoroughly or sterilised in an oven at 120 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. 

General tips for feeding your sourdough starter

Always remember to discard at least half or two thirds of your sourdough starter, each time you feed it.

To top up your starter, feed what’s left of it in your jar with equal parts flour and water, also known as a 1:1:1 ratio; starter: flour: water. 

Let it rise at room temperature until it starts to become active, usually when you start to see bubbles.

If you want to start making sourdough bread regularly, such as twice a week, then you can just keep feeding the same jar full of starter.

Don't forget to discard, "get rid" of, the accumulating starter, as it will start to build up if you keep feeding it. Just pop it in the compost bin or use it in a discard recipe, such as discard crackers.

It’s always a good idea to get into a routine for feeding your sourdough starter, not only will it help you to manage your time but it’ll also be beneficial for the mixture too, as it will train the starter to rise and fall predictably.

If you do forget to feed your starter one day, don’t worry too much, sourdough starters are quite resilient and should usually bounce back.

Sourdough starter recipe

That’s enough of the theory, let’s take a look at the specific sourdough starter for my sourdough bread recipe. 

Creating a starter from scratch takes between 10 to 14 days, so let's get started.

Starter steps...

Day 1

220ml Tepid Water
180g Strong white bread flour

Mix to form a paste in a jar and place the lid on. The lid will need to be removed at points in the process as Carbon Dioxide will build up.


Leave on a kitchen counter for three days, somewhere between 20-25 degrees celsius if possible.

Day 4

60ml tepid Water

50g white flour

Add these to the jar and mix.


This will refresh the new culture and start to build up on active yeasts that are feeding on the flours sugars found in the flours starch.

Days 5-9

Leave your new culture for a few days, releasing the lid every other day or so and re-sealing.

Day 10

Now starts the process of building on the culture and turning it into a starter you can use for Sourdough Bread Making.


Use 400g culture and discard the rest.

First feed:

  • 60ml Tepid water

  • 50g Dark Rye flour (Rye flour has lots of active enzymes on it as it’s a wholegrain and is great for helping to create a good starter)

  • Mix these together with the culture.

6 hours later…

Second feed:


  • 120ml tepid water

  • 110g strong white bread flour

  • Mix together in the jar. Not discarding anything at this point.

6 hours later…

Third feed:


  • 240ml tepid water

  • 220g strong white flour

Days 11-14

Continue this pattern of feeding.


So to schedule you could do something like this: 8am, 2pm, 8pm as an example, but really it needs to fit with your own schedule so see what works for you.


Make sure at the beginning of each feeding day you discard all but 400g and then start the three step feeding process again. 


Otherwise you’ll end up with copious amounts of culture.

Day 15

You should now have an active bubbly honeycomb in appearance starter which is ready to use for your sourdough bread recipe.

Readying your starter

As we’ve already mentioned, keeping a healthy starter is key to successful sourdough baking.

Step 1. When you would like to use your starter for sourdough, feed it with flour and water of equal measures.

Eg 80ml tepid water 80g strong white bread flour. Then Mix.

Step 2. After twelve hours or thereabouts it should be active and bubbly. Use in your recipe.

When you are not using your starter, leave it in the fridge until you need it. And repeat step 1.

Your starter will be fine kept in the fridge for extended periods, however it is advised to feed your starter at least once a week to keep the microbes and bacteria healthy.

Just remember you will need to discard two thirds, as your starter will start to build up.

Good luck!






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