Sourdough starter easy recipe

50 minutes plus fermenting time (this can be up to two weeks)
Makes two medium-sized loaves

Ingredients

For the starter (you will need more of each to 'feed' the starter)

  • 130g white spelt flour (make sure the flour is unbleached)
  • 40g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 200ml tepid water

For the dough

  • 140g starter
  • 250ml water
  • 320g white spelt flour, sieved, plus some for dusting
  • 160g wholemeal spelt flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Equipment

  • Glass jar or bowl for the starter
  • Two proving baskets dusted with flour (optional)
sourdough

If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of flour in your cupboards, maybe now is the time to start your own sourdough starter. All you need is flour, water and time!

Liz has used spelt flour to make hers, but you can use any flour, and in around a week you’ll be ready to bake your first loaf.

Few things beat the smell of freshly baked bread – it’s homely, inviting and comforting. But if bread makes you feel bloated, this sourdough loaf could be just what you need to satisfy a carb craving without messing with your microbiome.

Sourdough is naturally fermented, meaning the tough outer shell of the grain is broken down before we eat it. This makes it easier to absorb and is gentler on our gut.

Try a slice or two for breakfast, warmed and served with melted butter (organic and grass-fed, if you can), for a healthy dose of butyrate to boost your good-gut bugs.

The Good Gut Guide launch day Liz Earle Wellbeing

Find gut-friendly recipes in The Good Gut Guide

Like this sourdough starter recipe? You’ll love The Good Gut Guide. Packed with practical advice on pre- and probiotics, and fermented foods, this book will show you how best to address your individual needs and goals.

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Method

To make the starter

  1. To start your starter, place the flours and water in a glass bowl or jar. Make sure to weigh the glass jar before so you can be more accurate when you replenish each day. It’s also good to label so you know the date you started.
  2. Mix well with a spoon or spatula until it’s combined well and there are no dry clumps. Cover with a piece of cloth/muslin or a loose-fitting lid. Set aside in the kitchen at room temperature (around 20°C) for 24 hours.
  3. The starter should begin to bubble slightly the next day. Use a quarter of your starter or around 90g (throw out the rest). Combine with a further 100g white spelt flour, 20g wholemeal spelt flour and 100ml water. Stir and add a little more water if it looks dry. It should look similar to batter before you feed it and should increase in size just after you have fed it. Cover again and set aside in your resting place.
  4. Repeat this process every day, taking a quarter of the mixture, feeding it and leaving it to rest at room temperature. At around five to nine days, it should start to smell a little acidic and be filled with bubbles – this means it’s active. You can carry this on indefinitely.

To make the dough

  1. Put the dough ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly, then add the active starter mixture and mix.
  2. Knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Cover and leave for six to eight hours, folding it a few times throughout.
  3. Split the dough in half and sit the two halves in the floured proving baskets if using, seam side upwards, or shaped as desired. Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave for two hours. Preheat the oven to its highest setting.
  4. Turn the loaves out of the baskets onto a baking sheet, so the seam is on the bottom, and transfer the baking sheet directly to the oven. Bake for five minutes then turn the over down to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for a further 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.