There are plenty of ways to make a sour dough starter. Essentially, you have to capture enough wild yeast that can survive on a batter made of wheat and water to ensure that fermentation occurs at a high rate. This can be achieved by adding organic fruit to a flour batter. You can also add extra ingredients such as milk or yoghurt to encourage flavour development. With these basic cultures you can inoculate further batters which then provide nutrients for your cultures.
Once the culture is established, it can be used to create bread dough by using equal weights of culture to a basic dough without yeast. Eventually you may reach a state of consistency which results in as predictable a result as with other sources of yeast, until eventually it may fail due to contamination or keeping the starter in poor conditions. There are fall-back options though, including freezing a portion of the starter regularly in case of a failure.
Here is the method to create a starter.
- 250 grams of strong white flour
- 100 grams of rye flour
- 300 grams of bottled spring water
- a dozen unwashed, crushed organic grapes, or the grated peel of an unwashed, organic apple or pear
- A tablespoon of natural organic yoghurt (to increase flavours)
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bottle and cover with a clingfilm top
- Leave for forty eight hours or until the flour is bubbling – if this does not happen within four days, discard and start again
- If the starter is very active, use half of the culture to start a loaf, and top up the culture with 175 grams of strong white flour and 150 grams of water, if not very active, discard half the culture and top up in the same way.
- If after a few weeks the culture has not developed strongly you may like to start again.