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Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better For You – And How To Start One

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Tools of the Trade, What You Should Have On Hand Before Beginning Your Sourdough Journey

1. Access to freshly milled organic flour. This will make all the difference in the quality of your baked goods. There are many types of wheat flour, ancient grains and non-wheat flours that can be used for sourdough. I will list my top five kinds of wheat flour below.

  • Organic All-Purpose – This is a perfect flour for feeding your starter and baking pies, cakes, muffins and tortillas.
  • Organic Bread Flour – Bread flour is slightly higher in protein than all-purpose flour which in turn creates more gluten and traps more gasses giving bread more structure and loft. Bread flour is great for baking soft and lofty loaves of bread with a nice open crumb.

 

A perfect loaf of sourdough bread!

An open crumb sourdough loaf made with 100% bread flour. Copyright Butter For All

 

  • Organic Whole Wheat – Whole wheat flour has the bran and husk of the flour kernel milled in. It has a sweet and earthy flavor with more natural fiber. I like to add up to 50% whole wheat flour in many recipes. The bran of the flour kernel will interfere with gluten production that is why 100% whole wheat bread is much more dense with a tighter crumb structure. Whole wheat flour is great for adding to any recipe to give it more flavor and texture.
  • Organic Triple 200 Wheat Flours – Triple 200 flours are still whole wheat but the have passed through a 200 gauge sieve three times making the flour extra soft and light. They are fabulous for adding whole wheat flavor with a very delicate texture. Triple 200 is perfect for adding whole wheat flavor to delicate cakes, doughnuts, bread and cookies.

 

An artisan style sourdough loaf made with whole wheat flour.

An artisan style boule made with 50% Triple 200 Whole Wheat Flour and 50% Bread Flour
Copyright Butter For All

 

  • Organic Heirloom and Ancient Grains – Heirloom and ancient grains are making a huge comeback as people start to reinvest in the traditional food-ways of our ancestors. Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, and Kamut are just a few of the choices on the market. They all have varying levels of gluten, typically lower than industrialized hybridized wheat. Heirloom grains can have lots of different flavor profiles as well, from sweet to smoky to nutty. Once you are feeling confident with your baking skills it is fun to add these ancient grains into any of your baking projects!

 

Camas County Organic Flours

Some locally milled flours I use in my sourdough baking projects.

 

If you don’t have access to freshly milled local flour there are several brands that I have personally had great success with.


2. Fresh un-chlorinated water. Chlorine can really harm the growth of wild yeast and bacteria, not to mention it’s gross. Chlorinated water can be left to off-gas for 24-48 hours in an open glass container if needed. But the best thing you can invest in is a high powered portable water filter. I would recommend The Berkey Water Filter to anyone. It’s portable, has a great capacity, and the filters last years with proper care. It is also so reassuring to have the Berkey in case of emergency situations. Please do not use bottled water. Plastic water bottles are one of the most unsustainable choices that people make.

3. A baking scaleThis is such a crucial tool for baking exceptional sourdough. Can you bake good bread without one? Sure. I did it for years but my bread was elevated to the next level when I started paying close attention to the hydration and weights of my recipes.

4. A glass storage container. The proper storage container for your starter is really important. The starter needs to breathe but shouldn’t be left open to the elements. Fruit flies can be a bothersome pest to sourdough and can contaminate a starter with unwanted bacteria. I choose to use a locking lid jar with the rubber seal removed. This allows the starter to breathe without it drying out or becoming infested with intruders.

5. A set of ceramic or glass mixing bowls. Sometimes the metal alloys found in aluminum or even stainless steel mixing bowls can have a negative effect on fermentation. I suggest a sturdy set of ceramic or glass mixing bowls to keep your starter in prime condition for baking.

6. A proofing basket (Banneton). Traditional proofing baskets made from willow are beautiful and functional. They give sourdough loaves an artisanal shape and texture. The light weight willow is breathable and the shape of the basket supports the dough and gives the bread optimal conditions to rise to full potential.

7. A dutch ovenI can’t stress enough how much baking in a dutch oven improved my bread game. The dutch oven traps steam inside while baking, keeping the crust soft and stretchy and allowing the bread to rise as high as possible.  The lid of the dutch oven is removed halfway through baking to allow the crust to brown nicely.

8. A dough whiskThis handy little tool is perfect for mixing doughs of all kinds. You can even use it to stretch and fold your dough.

9. Parchment paperParchment paper is a baking luxury that I highly recommend. It can be used to line cookie sheets when making crackers, in-between balls of dough or as a sling for transporting your delicate loaves to the oven. Make sure to look for an eco-friendly brand and reuse parchment whenever possible!

10. A bread lameA bread lame is the tool use by bakers to easily hold a sharp razor blade for scoring bread. The lame gives you a nice handle and provides comfort and accuracy during the important scoring process.

And finally here are some fun optional additions to the sourdough baker’s tool chest.

A grain mill for grinding fresh flours from wheat, oats and more, cast iron loaf pans, a baking stone for pizza and rolls, a stand mixer, baguette forms, measuring cups, scoops and wooden spoons.

 

Fresh and active sourdough starter just waiting for a baking project!

 

Page Guide

Page 1. Intro
Page 2. What Is Sourdough?
Page 3. Bread Terminology
Page 4. Why Eat Sourdough?
Page 5. Tools
Page 6. Starter Recipe
Page 7. Fresh Starter vs. Discard
Page 8. Starter Hydration & Feeding
Page 9. Favorite Recipes
Page 10. Troubleshooting Sourdough
Page 11.  Starter Insurance Policy
Page 12. Using Stale Bread
Page 13. Recipes You Don’t Want To Miss
 
Once you try this easy sourdough pie crust you will never go back. Fermented grains and real butter make this recipe a nourishing tradition.
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Sweet And Buttery Sourdough Pie Crust - Traditionally Fermented For A Nourished Diet
Freshly fired, golden brown and crispy Parmesan and sourdough crusted chicken strips.
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Parmesan And Sourdough Crusted Chicken Strips - Fried in Traditional Fat

Lina Herzer

Monday 3rd of August 2020

Hello, what a perfect site about sourdough! I am mainly interested in making the crackers for now. When I create the starter, can the discard from day 1 and onwards be saved in the fridge until I have enough to make a tray of crackers? or do I have to wait until day 14, discard? So on day three I would have 300grams of discard collected.Hope that makes sense. Thank you!

Butter For All

Monday 3rd of August 2020

Hi Lina!

It makes perfect sense. I usually recommend people start saving discard after around day 7, if and only if there is some significant growth and activity. You don't want to be keeping and using the starter before it's balanced correctly. It just won't taste good, especially if it's very sour, which is typical in the beginning until you cultivate the yeast!Get your starter going first, then when it starts doubling regularly it will be ready to use in all the recipes!

Hope that helps!

Courtney

Ed

Sunday 26th of July 2020

Hi what's the difference between using brewer's yeast, or Fleischman yeast as against preparing the sourdough starter?

Athena Engel

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

I love your revamped site!! It’s so clean and fresh!! I have a question about my starter. I was given a 50% starter. I absolutely love it!! It is so relaxing to knead it while feeding, it’s easy to work with, I can let it sit in my fridge and rise so it doesn’t die in my hot home (90-95 degrees) and isn’t nearly as messy. I have one HUGE problem, however. I cannot find recipes that use it. Is there a way to use my starter in your recipes? All of yours look so darn good, I would really like to make them.

Monika

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Please help me my sourdough bread always comes out sour . i did float test . how can i get no sour sourdough bread . Thanks

Butter For All

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Hi Monika,

You need to work on your starter. Feed it every 12 hours to help balance the bacteria to yeast. A bacteria heavy starter will be more sour. You want to encourage the yeast by feeding it more often. Watch this video where I explain how this works - https://youtu.be/M2w1f5sjAvc

Hope it helps,

Courtney

Beth

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Hi thank you for sharing. Is there anyway to print all the pages in one document without cutting and pasting?

Butter For All

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Hi Beth,

I don't have this available to print at this time. But I may create a PDF in the future since I've had a lot of requests! Get on my mailing list and I'll make sure you get notified when it becomes available. Thanks for the feedback!

Courtney

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