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Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

Welcome to the page dedicated to all things dehydrated sourdough starter revival!

Sure, we can dry things out for a while, put them on hold and come back to it when we're r

The History of This Starter

This starter was created in January 2015.
I was working for a winery where our big focus was to create everything from scratch -- the wine, the cheese, the bread, etc. I thought: "if we're going to create our own bread, let's create our own yeast!" And so, we took a little bit of flour, mixed it with a little bit of water, and over the next week began to cultivate a lively, healthy culture of yeast and bacteria. We used this starter to make thousands of loaves of bread for the guests who dined at the winery. When I decided it was time to move onto new adventures, I took a little bit of this starter with me, and left the rest behind.

Over the past 9 years, this starter has been shared with hundreds of people. It has been mailed out across the country, and across the world. Follow along below for detailed info on how to revive this little packet of starter flakes, how to keep it living and thriving, and a recipe to use your starter in once it is bubbly and active!

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How to Revive your Dehydrated Starter

You have 20g of dehydrated sourdough starter in your packet . You can either keep 10g dehydrated as a little back up plan, or you can give some to a friend. The world of sourdough is all about sharing after all!

You will only need half of the packet to have a successful revitalization.
In a small bowl or jar, combine 10g of the dehydrated starter flakes with 50g of warm water, (approx. 90F). Let it sit on the counter for about 2 hours, or until the flakes have softened. Stick a spoon in there and stir it up until the flakes are mostly dissolved.

Add 25g bread flour, 25g whole wheat flour, and 10g warm water. Stir everything together until a smooth paste is formed.

Put a lid on the jar or cover it with fabric. Let it sit in a warm place for 24 hours. At this point you should see some signs of life. Signs of life right now will simply be little bubbles forming on the surface. If you don’t see anything just yet, do not worry. It will happen.

Once you see those little gas bubbles (or after 24 hours), it is time for a refreshment, aka. a feeding.

First feeding :
- Take out 25g of your original starter mixture and put it into a different jar or bowl.
- Add 50g water, 25g whole wheat, and 25g bread flour. Stir it all up until everything is hydrated and mixed up GOOD!
- Cover and let it sit for 12 hours in a warm spot. The remaining starter can be put in a clean container and stored in the fridge for “sourdough discard” recipes -- pancakes, crackers, etc.

You can now continue to feed your starter at 12-24 hour intervals for optimal health. Your starter should start to gain more air bubbles, at least double in volume at its peak, and be quite active within 3-4 days. Once you see it doubling in volume and then receding back down to its original volume on a regular basis, you will be ready to make bread.

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How to Care for your Starter

Congratulations!
You have just adopted a new pet..creature.. culture of life. Your starter is very much a living organism and needs consistent care and attention in order to give you a product you will be happy with.

How often you feed your starter will depend on a couple of things. How often do you plan on baking with it? Are you keeping it on the counter or in the fridge? What is the temperature – high heat of summer, cold cold wintery days?

If you plan on just baking once a month, it will be a good idea to just store your starter in the fridge. Make sure it is being stored in a clean container. Before going into the fridge, it should be looking really nice and bubbly. You don't want to put your starter in the fridge if it has JUST been fed, or on the adverse side of things..it's really 'hungry', thin and liquidy.

If your container is clean, there is no reason that your starter cannot stay in the fridge for months at a time and then be brought out and refreshed a few times before you start baking with it again. If you plan on baking more frequently, it may suit you to keep your starter on the counter in a comfortable environment (about 70F). In this case, your starter will survive on being fed once a day.

Before you plan on baking, feed your starter at least 2 times at 10-12 hour intervals. This will allow it to build up quite a bit of vigorous activity that will translate into a bread with lots of rising potential.

What is a feeding?

We covered this a little bit already, but your starter needs fresh food and water on a consistent basis – just like humans or animals. However, the “food” for the starter comes in the form of flour and water. This particular starter has always been fed a mixture of bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water.

It usually gets fed at a ratio of 1:2:2:
1 part starter : 2 parts water : 1 part bread flour : 1 part whole wheat (2 parts flour).

In terms of weight, that would translate into:

10g starter 20g water 10g bread flour 10g whole wheat flour. Mix it into a paste, put it in a clean container, cover it, and let it sit on the counter.

How do I Know my Starter is Ready to Use?

One way you can test it is by doing a float test. Fill a cup with water. Gently scoop out a small amount of your starter and plop into the cup of water. If it floats on the surface, it should be ready to go. This would indicate that it has enough gas in it to keep it buoyant, which will translate into having enough activity going on inside to create a well-rising loaf of sourdough.

Another indicator that your starter is ready to use is that it has at least doubled in size in the container that you fed it in. It will also have many wonderful gas bubbles that you can see (if your container is clear!)

Do not fear. Your starter is a very resilient creature. It is very difficult to destroy. Feed it at intervals that work best with your schedule – perhaps while you’re making your morning coffee, or while you’re brushing your teeth before bed. Make it easy for yourself, and you will stick with it. Any questions or worries about its health or your bread, send me a quick message and photo and I will help you out! 

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WW Mother _Baking P.A.R.T.Y out in the country tonight! Sourdough Croissants...English Muf

How Much do I Need to Feed my Starter?

How much you feed your starter will depend on what you are doing with it.

Are you simply maintaining it and feeding it to keep alive, or are you feeding it to bake with?

If you are feeding it to keep it alive, I would use the previously mentioned quantities (10g starter, 20g flour, 20g water…) Every time you feed your starter, you will be throwing some out (or keeping it in a container in your fridge for (discard) pie doughs, pancakes, waffles, etc), so to simply maintain it, you can feed a very small quantity.

It’s all in the ratios. If you are feeding your starter to bake with, how much you feed will depend on how big your recipe is. You will want to feed it so that you have enough to put in your bread, but also some to carry over and continue on with your starter.

For example, if the recipe calls for 200g starter, I would aim to feed enough so that your final starter weight is 250g -- so that you’ve got 50g to carry forward. A little wiggle room.

To figure out how much starter you need to feed in order to end up with 250g, take 250/5 = 50g.

You will need to feed 50g in order to get a final amount of 250g. (50g starter 100g water 100g flour)

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Sourdough Recipe

Sourdough Recipe


Y: 2 loaves @700g
140g Whole Wheat Flour
560g Bread Flour
503g Water
15g Salt
182g Starter

In a bowl combine the water and starter, and flours. Work together with your hands until there are no dry spots remaining. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. This 30-minute period without the salt is called autolyse. Once the 30 minutes are up, evenly sprinkle the salt across the top of the dough. Using your open hands, quickly and repeatedly stick them into the dough and grab handfuls of dough, squishing the salt in simultaneously. Continue with this method until you can no longer feel large granules of salt and you are confident it has been fully dissolved.

Let the dough sit another 30 minutes. The dough will bulk ferment for 3-4 hours. For the first 2 hours of the bulk fermentation, stretch and fold the dough at 30-minute intervals. After the bulk fermentation and once the dough has increased in volume by 30-40%, scrape out onto a very lightly floured counter. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, flip the dough so that it is smooth side to the counter. Stretch the dough out into the shape of a rough rectangle, with the short side towards you. Grab the top edge of the rectangle and fold it down 2/3 of the way (towards you). Gently pat into place. Grab the bottom edge of the rectangle and fold it up ¾ of the way. Gently pat into place. Looking at your dough now, it should still roughly be in the shape of a rectangle, but the short sides are at the sides, and the long side is towards you. Visually divide your dough, horizontally into thirds, so that you can pretend each side has a set of arms. Grab the top corners/arms of the dough, gently stretch them out and bring them into the middle to hug each other. Pat into place. Repeat with the bottom arms/corners, and then with the middle arms. Now you should have a shape that resembles more of a rough boule. Flip the dough over so that all of the seams are down, and round very gently on your counter to tighten the outer skin.

Let sit for 20-30 minutes – if the air is particularly dry, you can cover them with a tea towel so they don’t form a skin. Once the dough has visibly relaxed, repeat the same shaping process, this time placing the loaves in your flour dusted banneton or towel-lined bowls when complete. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours, until it has increased in size by 40-50%. It should be visibly poufy, and when you gently poke it with a finger, the indent should slowly spring back. If it bounces back immediately, your dough should proof a while longer. If your indent remains, without springing back at all, put it in the fridge right away! It is likely a bit over-proofed, but that's OK, we'll still make bread.

Put your sourdough in the fridge overnight, or up to 2 days. 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven and Dutch oven to 500F. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, gently flip the (straight from the fridge) dough out onto a piece of parchment. Score the dough, remove the Dutch oven from the oven, place the dough inside, put the lid back on, and put it back into the oven. Set a timer for 25 minutes. At 25 minutes, remove the lid from the Dutch oven, return it back to the oven, and set a timer for 10 minutes. It may take another 5-8 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs. Don’t be afraid to bake dark – colour is flavour. At this point, the bread should be nice and golden, your scores should have opened nicely, and if you knock on the bottom of the loaf, it will sound slightly hollow and feel significantly lighter than when it went into the oven. Let your bread cool on a cooling rack so that the air can evenly circulate. Your sourdough will keep on the counter in a linen or paper bag for up to 5 days.

You've Made the Bread

Let's share in celebrating your results! If you're on social media, tag me on Instagram at @lohambleton so I can be a part of your celebration! Have questions? Send me an email at hello@redhenartisanale. With sourdough, there are so many variables, so if you've got questions, more details are better.

Excited about this new bubbling monster you've created? Want to get more information, in-person help, and enjoy a day of learning with others?! Sign up for a workshop! Click here to view all of the current available workshop dates!

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