Sourdough Basics: From Growing A Starter To Baking Your First Loaf

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Think of this as a resource document, a guide that you should bookmark, save, and come back to. Given how many stellar beginner sourdough guides and basic recipes already exist, especially for the initial steps like growing a starter and making your first bread, I am opting not to recreate the wheel and try to make my own. Instead, find below the tried and true (and simple) methods that I used when I started my sourdough journey and continue to use up to this day. These are a great starting point if you're just getting comfy with your sourdough experiments. Get a handle on the below and then come explore the rest of my recipes, including everything bagels, cheddar biscuits, and more.

Sourdough Basics: From Growing A Starter To Baking Your First Loaf

Growing a sourdough starter: This guide to growing your own sourdough starter from Home Grown Happiness is straightforward and easy to follow. It produces a 100% hydration starter in less than two weeks. 100% hydration is the same started hydration that I use in all of my sourdough recipes.

Storing a sourdough starter: This guide to storing your sourdough starter from King Arthur Baking Company includes easy-to-follow instructions for storing on the counter top, great for those who bake often, or in the fridge, my preferred method as I typically bake once weekly.

How to tell if your starter is ready for baking: Can't tell if your sourdough starter is ready for baking? This guide will help, though remember that sourdough baking is equal parts art and science.

Baking your first sourdough bread: There's no feeling like cutting into your first crusty, fluffy loaf of homemade sourdough bread. And based on the innumerable recipes on the internet, it seems like there are a million ways to get there. I recommend all new sourdough bakers start by checking out Elaine Foodbod's recipes and methods. She has incredible instructional videos on her Instagram, she details the tools you'll need to bake your first loaf, and her master sourdough recipe is simple and easily replicable at home.

Once you've mastered a standard sourdough bread, then you can start experimenting! Try everything from adding seeds and nuts, swapping out flours, and making things like galettes and challah.

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