First a little yeast info---
As just mentioned there are thousands of recipes for sourdough. I'm a fan of starting with rye flour and then feeding it with white flour and water, just be sure to use water with no chlorine in it as it will retard the growth of yeast. I also try to keep a 1 to 1 ratio of flour and water by weight! Please try to do the same and follow the recipe.
Day 1: Start around 9 AM---In a glass, plastic or stainless steel mixing bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups (225g) of rye flour with 1 cup (235g) spring water (at room temperature) until all of the flour is mixed and there are no lumps. Cover the container with a clean damp cloth and loose covering of plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature 68-70 degrees F for 24 hours. (Why rye flour and not white? You can use either but it is well know to bakers that rye flour contains certain enzymes that help create a very strong starter.)
Day 2: Around 9 AM---You will see a few bubbles and some foaming action on the surface of the mixture. 1st. feeding---Now add 1 (150g) cup of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup + 2 T (150g) of room temperature spring water and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Prepare a new clean non-reactive container, like you used in the first step, and scrape the mixture into it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cut a 1-inch slit in it with a sharp knife. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. *A helpful hint---feed your starter the same time every day---here it is 9 AM..)
Day 3: Around 9 AM ---There will be noticeable activity in the form of bubbling and you will smell a sour aroma. (To discard half of the mixture or not, before another feeding of more flour and water---a debate goes on of the value. Or save that amount and make a second batch from what you are removing. Rather than being wasteful and throwing it away you can simply grow two batches and then give some to friends, or freeze it. If you choose this, you will have duplicate starters to work with and you will need to feed both batches from this point on!) After you master the basics you might not want to throw it away, but for this formula it's going in the compost.
So let's make it easy and not be confusing, let's use the discard a
portion method! Remove about 1/3 of the starter (125g) and mix the
rest with 1 cup (150) of unbleached all-purpose and 1/2 cup + 2 T (150g) of room
temperature spring water and stir until smooth. Put it in a new clean container and cover tightly with plastic
wrap and cut a 1-inch slit in it with a sharp knife. Let sit at room temperature
for 24 hours.
FYI, your portion of starter should now weigh around 600g +/-
Day 4: Around 9 AM---The mixture should have at least doubled in size at this point. FYI, if it seems to be sluggish and hasn't doubled in size, allow it to sit at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours before feeding again. Otherwise, repeat instructions for steps above---but now discard half of the mixture, (300g). And mix in 1 cup (150g) of unbleached all-purpose and 1/2 cup + 2 T (120g) of room temperature spring water and stir until smooth. Pour into yet another clean container and cover tightly with plastic wrap and cut a 1-inch slit in it with a sharp knife. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. FYI, your portion of starter should now weigh around 600g +/- if you follow the math!
Day 5: Around 9 AM again---Feed the starter twice (2 times) today! The first feed is at the regular time and then again after 12 hours or around 9 PM. The first feeding in the AM is: 1/2 cup (75g) of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup (60g) of room temperature spring water, and stir all together until smooth. Cover with plastic as you have done before. Let sit at room temperature 12 hours. Then at 9 PM, feed the entire batch another 1/2 cup (75g) of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup (60g) of room temperature spring water and stir until smooth...cover with plastic wrap as before. This schedule should put you in a time frame for mixing dough the next day. The starter should now weigh around 870g.
Day 6: bread baking day: Around 9 AM---If your starter has been active and doubles in size between feedings, then your starter is ready to bake with. But how much should you use??? This takes some calculating and note taking so you have a future reference on what you did, later you can adjust accordingly. Suggestions abound on the Internet. To make it simple, once again remember the fact that sourdough products are slow risers and are not like using a package of yeast where dough rises in a few hours. Starters are not equal in proportion of yeast cells to a package of yeast in volume. To avoid a calculator and figuring to the decimal points use my simple rule of thumb---that's use 22% in weight of the total weight of your recipe (see recipe below).
Use what you need in your recipe and then put the remainder in a jar with a tight fitting lid, but feed it again first! If you followed the proceedure and didn't have any errors in measurement or accidents, you have around 870 grams of starter. Put the remaining starter in a clean container and feed it using equal weights of flour and water. If your bread formula used 240 grams of starter, then feed it with 60 grams of water and 60 grams of flour mixed in well so there are no lumps. Pour and scrape it into a clean jar and screw on the cover before refrigerating.
Attention please! From now on you will need to keep the starter in a good state of being with a weekly feeding, I do mine every Wednesday. I take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature (70F) overnight or about 6-8 hours. My schedule of baking allows me to remove around half of it and use it for a few loaves. I then feed what remains with equal weights of flour and water. If I used 120 grams of starter in my bread formula, I replenish with 60 grams flour and 60 grams water. If I use 200 grams, I replenish with 100 grams flour and 100 grams water. I stir it smooth, wipe down the edges of the jar and and let it sit out until I see it starting to grow. At this point I cover and refrigerate it until the next Wednesday cycle. For whatever reason if you don't bake weekly like I do, you still need to feed it on a regular schedule and if that's the case, you may choose to discard half the starter and replenish what remains using the 1:1 ratio. You may also freeze half putting it into a dormant state. To use it from this frozen state, defrost it two days before you need it and feed the night before, following the flour to water ratio as above.
When you are ready to bake more bread, take the starter out of the
refrigerator the night before to warm to room temperature and feed it before
bedtime, then cover the container. It will be ready in the morning for more
bread baking. To keep it going for as long as you like, just keep repeating the
process and keep it in your refrigerator.
FYI there are starters that have survived many years using this
method. Please try to keep your storage containers clean! My
mothers's mother---my grandother, kept her's in the dirt cellar to
make sour rye. A sour starter can be used in so many ways, just
think of it as the flavor of your location. Ah, that's why San
Franscisco sourdought is unique---¿Entiendes?
Basic French Bread Dough
Water to flour (hydration) on this recipe is about 60%
(Using about 1/4 of the sour starter)
22% of sourdough starter, to figure this add the weight of ingredients and multiply it by 22% to get weight of starter needed
(375g + 650g + 10g * .22) = 227.7g) sourdough starter---so call it 230 g
1 1/4 cup (375g or 375ml) lukewarm water
5 1/4 cups (650g) unbleached bread flour + 2 T for forming/shaping
1 tablepoon salt (10g)
The basic recipe makes 3 Baguettes or 2 Batards
or if you like about 36 nice
size Rolls. You will mix the dough as normal---at least 10 minutes
on speed 2 of a 10 speed Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook to develop the gluten, then let it rest for
30 minutes before dividing and kneeding. Kneed 20 times with
sufficient pressure to form a tight round balls---be sure to use
just enough flour to coat the ball well---let rest again for 30
minutes covered with a cloth. Set in a proofing
basket if that's your style. For baguettes/batards/rolls use a couch
and let it rise in a warm humid spot for 3-4-5 hours---rolls not as
long, depending on your kitchen enviorment. For slashing (docking) I
will do that very carefully after they have been transfered to
lightly floured peels, be careful not to deflate the loaves. Bake
at a solid 450 degreef F. on a stone if possible or on steel baking
pans. Baguettes bake for 18-20 minutes, Batard for
25-30 and Rolls about 12-14 minutes. (A
little secret---you might want to add 1 T diastatic malt and
1 T vital wheat gluten to the mix for chew and additional
light-texture---no need to change anything in the recipe. Plus bake with
steam for a crispy crust!)