The Easiest Homemade 2-Ingredient Sourdough Starter (No Dry Yeast Required)
Making a sourdough starter in order to make flatbreads, loaves of bread, pancakes, or anything else just seemed way out of my culinary skills. Without doing any real research, I assumed it was just going to be too complicated and confusing.
I imagine many people are in the same boat that I was in, just happily munching on store-bought fortified-whole-wheat protein-infused-fiber-full bread.
But due to the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore spending more time at home, I mustered up the courage to experiment baking my own starter. And I realized how surprisingly easy and low-maintenance making a sourdough starter actually is.
And get this: it only requires the following:
- a spoon
- a glass jar with a lid
- some flour
- some water
You don’t need a fancy scale, calculators, or machines. Take it from someone who’s stuck in an Airbnb right now and doesn’t have access to these tools. I was forced to get a little creative and realized that making a sourdough starter is actually much more simple than most people make it out to be.
Why is Sourdough Starter Sour?
In short, the tangy taste that sourdough starter produces in baked goods comes from a (good) bacteria called lactobacilli that’s produced by the wild yeast that grows in sourdough starter. This wild yeast is made up of thousands of strains of bacteria, but it’s the lactic acid produced from lactobacilli that creates the sour taste we all love.
Before you get weirded out and hit that exit button, don’t worry — you won’t see anything funky or weird growing in your starter — it’s all on a microscopic level and completely harmless.
The wild yeast grows slower than baker’s yeast, which is why if you truly want to make good homemade sourdough baked goods (and keep on making them at any time you please) it will initially take a few days.
But I promise, the product is absolutely worth it.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- 0.5 cup flour (or 8 heaping spoonfuls) — whole wheat flour works too, but make sure it doesn’t have leavening agents such as baking soda or dry yeast
- 0.3 cup room-temperature water (or 6 spoonfuls) + any extra to reach the correct consistency
Tools You'll Need:
- 1 clear, glass jar that holds at least 2 cups (around 200 grams), with a lid
- a utensil to stir with — a knife, spoon, or chopsticks works perfectly
Morning Day 1
- Mix the flour and water in the glass jar. Make sure your water is room-temperature as hot water could kill the environment in the jar.
- Stir until the dry flour is pretty incorporated in the mixture. You want the end product to very thick, but still viscous. When you spin the jar around slowly, the starter will slowly fall to the side. You might have to add more water, and that’s fine! Just add a little splash at a time until it’s thick. It’s important to have a clear jar so that you can keep track of activity easily.
- Place the lid on — don’t screw the lid on — and set on the counter. As long as the sun isn’t hitting it or it’s completely in the dark, you’ll be good to go.
- Name your starter. Yep, you read that right — it just makes things more fun and you can encourage it to grow as the days come. My starter’s name is Dac Lan since the lid is branded.
- Let it rest for at least 24 hours.
Morning Day 2
- Once 24 hours is up, add in 1/4 cup of flour (4 heaping spoonfuls) and a little bit more water to create the same thickness as you initially started with. This is called the feeding periods.
- Cover with the lid and let it rest for 12 hours.
Evening Day 2
- Once 12 hours up, add in 1/4 cup of flour (4 heaping spoonfuls) and water.
- Mix until everything is incorporated into the thick paste.
- Encourage your starter by name.
- Cover with the lid and let it rest for 12 hours.
Morning Day 3
And every twelve hours after for the next few days, rinse and repeat this step until your starter is ready (more on that below).
Depending on the temperature and moisture in your house, you can see bubble as early as Day 2. This means your yeast is active, hungry, and happy!
But don’t get discouraged if not — warmer houses take less time to grow your starter than colder houses.
When Your Starter Is Growing
If you see the starter growing really quickly — which is what you want — and you’re afraid it’s going to spill over the edge of your jar, set aside 1/4 to 1/2 of the mix.
Usually people will trash it, but say “yes” to zero food waste and make this recipe instead!
Day 5 or 6
Your starter should be quite active now! If it’s not, keep repeating these steps until it’s doubling its size within a few hours of the feeding period. Again, it’s important to check on it to make sure it’s not spilling over the lid.
How to Tell if Your Starter is Ready
- It should smell tangy and fermented. If it smells foul, bad bacteria might have snuck in. Clean your jar thoroughly and start again.
- If it’s not doing anything after Day 10, add a bit of acid — such as a squeeze of lemon — to activate it.
- When you look at your jar, there will be bubbles, which indicates the wild yeast is metabolizing its food and healthy!
- The yeast will grow quite fast just a few hours after feeding times.
Now you can just store your starter in the fridge. Remember to feed your refrigerated starter about once a week, keeping it out for just a few hours and then storing it back in the fridge. If you see any liquid forming, you can just mix it back in.
Now You Can Bake What You Please!
Now that you have your starter all ready to go, you can keep using it to make all sorts of delicious recipes!
Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went in the comments below!