Levain/ Lievito Madre/ Mother/ Starter Seed/ Sourdough Starter

26 Apr

When I first started baking I was all about bread. I wanted to know everything about the simple,  yet complex baked good we indulge in. But eventually I started to veer off and explore other things categorized under Baking. As I sat on the couch yesterday moping about my concussion and the loudness of the people around me, my dad gently tossed a magazine my way as he walked by. Flipping it over I saw three golden, crusty baguettes on the cover. My mouth instantly started to water. I skimmed through. Looking at the top 20 loaves of bread in America, reading  about different types of flour, and chemical reactions. Every chance I got today, I would go back and read about a new technique. A different flavor, an explanation for why something happens. I’m determined to bake as much bread in the coming year as I possibly can, and I can’t do that without a great starter. For those of you who are new to the baking world, let me explain. A starter is made by mixing flour and water to form a paste-like mixture. Over time, your mixture will begin to ferment as it picks up natural yeasts from the air. Just like wine, cheese, and pickles, time, temperature, and humidity can have a great affect on how a starter looks on any given day. Once fermented, a starter can be added to your bread dough to create depth in flavors. So, the older the starter, the better the taste of your bread.

For my starter, I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat, and bread flour. I did this simply because I wanted to use up my whole wheat and bread flour. If you are going to be using your starter for a specific type of bread, a specific type of flour should be used. If you are making yours for any and all breads, feel free to use whatever you have available to you.

For your container, a jar-like container is recommended. I am using a Rubbermaid plastic pitcher for mine. It is large enough to hold the amount I want, and the lid allows air ( and ultimately yeast/bacteria )  to get in without letting creatures or other things that may be dropped and whatnot to get in.

Since all this is is flour and water, and the type(s) of flour you may be using will most likely differ, there are no specific proportions I can give you. I put all the flour I was going to start with into the container and judged the amount of water necessary from there. I believe I ended up using about 3 cups of water to about 5-6 cups of flour. I’ve never been much of a measurer anyway.

I continued adding water and mixing until it looked a little something like this:


Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, cover (if your container has one; they are not necessary), and store. A warm, humid place is ideal for mothers.


I went with on top of the fridge. Mainly because I had nowhere else to put a giant, smelly pitcher.

Now remember, kids: feed your starter everyday for the first week or so. After that, every 2 or three days. And when I say feed, I mean add a little more flour and water.

Enjoy your tasty bread!

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