Whole-Wheat Sourdough Starter
Day 1: Combine 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a 2-quart plastic or glass container. Do not use a metal container. Stir until the flour and water are well mixed. No dry flour should remain. Cover the container with plastic wrap or a loose-fitting lid. If you are using a glass jar, do not tighten the lid. Expanding gasses can break the glass. Let the mixture sit for 24 hours in a warm place, 75-90 degrees F. If the temperature is lower, the starter may take a few days longer to fully develop.Advertisement
Day 2: Discard half the starter, leaving 4 ounces in the container. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water. Stir well and cover loosely. Let the starter sit for 24 hours. Near the end of day 2, the mixture should have expanded a little and some small bubbles should have appeared.
Day 3: Repeat the feeding process from Step 2, discarding half the starter and adding 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water.
Day 4: The starter should have expanded and should have a distinct, sour odor. More bubbles should be visible on top. Begin a 12-hour feeding schedule: In the morning, repeat the feeding process from Step 2, discarding half the starter and adding 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water. Repeat the feeding process again 12 hours later.
Day 5: The starter should have a ripe, sour odor. Small bubbles should be abundant throughout the mixture. Discard half the starter, leaving 4 ounces in the container. This time, feed with 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water. Continue the 12-hour feeding schedule, discarding half the starter and using 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water for each feed until you are ready to bake. Or, store the starter in the refrigerator and feed once per week.
Tips: It's best to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh all ingredients for accuracy. Flour can settle and cause volume measurements to vary.
It may take the sourdough starter 7 to 10 days to fully develop when the room temperature is lower than 70 degrees F. Try storing the starter in a warm spot in your home, such as the top of the hot water heater or in the laundry room.
If you have refrigerated your starter, a day or two before you are ready to bake bread, remove 4 ounces of the starter and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Then feed it and wait 12 hours. If growth is strong, feed again and wait 4 to 6 hours before making bread. Otherwise, resume the 12-hour feeding schedule until the starter is at full strength.
Use 4 ounces of the whole-wheat starter to seed a new batch of starter that uses 100 percent all-purpose flour if you want to make white sourdough. After a few feedings, the white flour will have replaced the wheat.
If 8 ounces of starter is not enough for your recipe, don't discard the starter in excess of 4 ounces for a couple of feedings. Keep adding 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water each cycle. Feed in this manner until you have the amount needed for the recipe.
To make ahead: Starter will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, but you need to refresh it by discarding half and feeding it at least once per week.