Creating a sourdough starter is quite straight forward but it will usually take a week or two to establish, requiring about 5-10 minutes attention each day… but it’s totally worth it!!
This recipe will create a ‘100% hydration’ starter, using the 1:1:1 method, perfect for sourdough Neapolitan pizzas…
- The flour used in this recipe is a 50/50 mix of organic white rye flour and ’00’ pizza flour. For ease, you can mix some up and store it in a container beforehand ready for the feeds.
- You will only need flour & water plus 10g of honey (not essential) to give it a kick start.
- A tall clear container with enough room for the starter to grow is needed. 1L-1.3L is an ideal size but bigger is fine.
- Make a note of the weight of the container/jar you are keeping your starter in as you’ll need this when feeding.
Mix together 100g of tepid water, 100g of flour and 10g of honey. Stir well to form a smooth batter. Clean and scrape down the sides of the jar with a wet silicone spatula. Cover with a breathable lid and leave in a warm place for 24hrs.
Give the starter a quick & gentle stir and then discard all but 100g of the starter (this is where you need to know the weight of the jar). Now add in 100g of the flour mix and 100g of tepid water. Stir and mix well ensuring there is no dry flour left. Clean and scrape down the sides of the jar, replace the breathable lid and leave in a warm place for 24hrs.
You have just given it it’s first feed – easy isn’t it!? This is called the 1:1:1 method as it’s 1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour.
Inspect the starter and you may see signs of bubbles. If not, don’t worry, it may take longer depending on the temperature and conditions its kept in. It may also have quite a pungent aroma at this stage which is normal. Give the starter another feed just as you did yesterday and leave for another 24hrs.
The chances of seeing some activity will increase each day. Feed the starter again and leave for 24hrs. Place an elastic band around the level of the starter now so you can see easily if the starter is rising and by how much.
Day 5 onwards
You should start to see that starter is rising after each feed over the course of several hours. There should be lots of bubbles and you’ll see lots of pockets of air when you stir it. To speed up the process you can now switch to 2 feeds a day if you wish, roughly 12hrs apart. Repeat the feedings either daily or twice-daily until the starter is predictably rising and at least doubling in size within 6-7hrs of a feed.
Once your starter is rising nicely after each feed and the smell is now much more pleasant, it is ready to use. This may have taken a week if you’re lucky or it may have taken 2 or 3 weeks, it can vary significantly. You no longer need the breathable lid so for feeding or for storing you can now just use the air-right lid.
Now that your starter is established, you no longer need to feed it every day, it can be kept in the fridge with an air-tight lid on. It can sit in the fridge for several weeks without a feed. You no longer need the breathable lid.
Using your Starter
To make pizza dough then first work out how much starter you need using the Sourdough Pizza Calculator. Make sure that the amount you need is no more than 220g so that sufficient starter is left over for next time as you currently have a 300g starter.
Feed it and once it has risen and peaked, remove the amount of starter you need and start making the dough using the Sourdough Pizza Recipe. You want to catch it as close to its peak as possible as this is when its at its most active and will give the best results. Scrape down the sides of the jar and seal it with an air-tight lid. Return the starter to the fridge (without feeding it) and it will sit there happily without feeding until the next time you make dough.
When its time to make dough again, just remove it from the fridge, feed it and wait for it to peak again before using. If the starter seems sleepy then you may need to double feed it by just doing two feeds back to back to get it fully active again.
Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of starter you keep. You may find that having a 300g starter each time (100g starter, 100g flour, 100g water) is too much as you only require 80g of starter to make your pizzas. In this case, reduce down the quantities, just make sure you stick to the 1:1:1 ratio. So for example you could discard all but 60g of starter then add 60g of water and 60g of flour giving you a 180g starter each time, minimising the amount of discard each time.
There are lots of recipes on the web for making things like pancakes, pretzels, muffins etc with sourdough discard so don’t throwing your discard away, store it in the fridge in a separate air tight container for another time. It will keep for months.