Think sourdough breads can only be made by professional bakers or by using pricey sourdough starters? Think again. Flour, water, and a little quick-rising yeast can yield the complex flavors of sourdough in just a few days if you follow the quick-start method.
These recipes rely on a three-day sourdough starter, then an overnight sponge (the starter mixed with flour, liquid, and a sweetener to feed it) that allows the dough to fully absorb liquid and develop gluten, the protein structure giving wheat-based bread doughs the springy, chewy texture everyone loves.
5 Tips for Sourdough Success
1. Plan ahead. It takes two to three days for the Shortcut Sourdough Starter to ripen and develop flavor. If it isn't bubbly or has an off aroma, discard and start over.
2. Check the temperature. If your starter sits in a space that's warmer than room temperature (72°-74°F) it may require more flour and less water to ferment; cooler temperatures slow development, which may require an extra day of fermenting.
3. Make feedings work for you. Sourdough starter should be fed at roughly 12-hour intervals, but you don't have to set your alarm clock. Instead, find times that work best for you—say, just after breakfast and just after dinner.
4. Keep it going. Store extra starter in the fridge, discarding half and feeding it equal parts flour and water once a week. For example, if you have 1/4 cup starter, stir in no more than 1/4 cup each flour and water. Increase this amount incrementally over time.
5. Experiment! Sourdough starters are a matter of taste and preference. Experiment with different types of flours and allow them to develop over longer and shorter periods of time to find your favorites.