The Sourdough Trend

When the pandemic first started, most people suddenly found they had more time on their hands to spare. People began taking up new hobbies to fight the boredom of lockdown. Many started learning new languages or enrolled in online courses and others started exercising more. One of the crazes that took over social media was sourdough. Photos popped up all over social media; loaves of bread, rolls, pretzels, you name it.

So what makes sourdough special? Usually, regular bread needs store-bought yeast in order to make it rise. Sourdough bread doesn’t use yeast but instead is made using a ‘starter’. This starter contains natural yeast and bacteria that grow and develop in the starter itself. It is this starter that has a slightly sour flavour, which it imparts to the bread, or any other recipe it’s used in. This method dates back to ancient Egypt. Starters are passed down for generations, and the more it ages, the more intense the flavor gets.

Getty Images / The Washington Post / The Washington Post

The starter is very easy to make, but it does require a lot of patience and supervision. You’ll start off by mixing together 1 cup of flour and 1⁄2 cup of water, in a tightly sealed container. You will need to ‘discard and feed’ your starter 2 times a day, usually around 12 hours apart (although this varies based on temperature). Each time, you will take a ¼ cup starter (discard the rest) and mix together with ¼ cup of water and ½ cup of flour. After a few days, you’ll notice that some bubbles will start appearing, and the amount of starter will seem to rise and fall in between feeds. This is a good sign, it means that the yeast is developing and getting stronger. It will take around 2 weeks of constant care until your starter is ready to use.

At around 10-14 days (climate dependent) your starter is ready to use in any sourdough recipe. Unless you plan on baking every day, we recommend storing your starter in the fridge from now on. That way you’ll only need to feed it once every couple of weeks. Just take it out, and feed it a couple of times at room temperature before you want to use it. In the beginning, it’s best to start with the amounts recommended, but once you get the hang of it, you can downsize to make long-term maintenance easier.