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Wheat Sourdough Starter

with 5 comments

In parallel to my rye sourdough I have over the past week also started a sourdough based on wheat. As I understand it, wheat sourdoughs are more difficult to get started without supplements and don’t ferment as vigorously as rye sourdoughs. Nevertheless, in my case, again following a recipe from Martin Johansson’s wonderful blog, the process was pretty straight forward. Below is the description of Martin’s recipe and my own experiences developing the wheat sourdough.

Wheat sourdough

Day 1
35 g lukewarm water
25 g yogurt
50 g wheat flour

Day 1-3
Stir gently every morning and evening

Day 3
100 g lukewarm water
100 g wheat flour

Add new flour and water and stir.

Day 3.5
If the sourdough has risen substantially it is ready

For my recipe I used “Milanaise Organic Unbleached All Purpose Flour White” that I bought at the Baldwin Naturals organic food market in Toronto. This flour is produced from cylinder-ground hard spring wheat. I figured I didn’t need high-protein bread flour to create the sourdough starter. It was the freshest package I could find, with a date stamp reading LOT1007201200. Many stores, even Baldwin Naturals, were selling flour more than six months old. I need to find a good store keeping fresh organic flour here in Toronto. Recommendations are welcome.

Instead of lukewarm water, I used filtered tap water at room temperature. Instead of yogurt, I used Pinehedge Farms Organic Light Kefir. I let the sourdough develop at room temperature, at 22-24 degrees C.

I kept the sourdough in a plastic jar

Having stirred the initial recipe (day 1) together I immediately noted that this was a much thicker batter than the early rye sourdough, but still not thick as a normal bread dough. The sourdough started to show signs of fermentation during day 3 (before any feeding had taken place). There was a fresh smell of wheat and later of apple. This is what it looked like.

Wheat sourdough by the end of day 3

I diverged slightly from the recipe by not starting feeding the sourdough until day 4. By then the sourdough had a pleasant taste of wheat and was slightly acidic. By day 4.5 the sourdough had separated slightly, with a layer of yellow liquid on top. That’s apparently normal. See photo below.

By day 4.5 the sourdough was separating, note the thin liquid layer on top.

While there was some signs of fermentation the dough had not risen significantly, as I would have expected from the recipe. On the other hand the sourdough was still quite thin so I don’t think it could have risen much, even if there was intense fermentation present. I mean a dough can swell, but a thin batter, not so much. Had I mixed the ingredients wrong? If so, that should correct itself with repeated feeding. So I kept only 50 g of the sourdough and repeated the feeding step for day 3 in the recipe. The video below shows the consistency of the sourdough thereafter, much like pancake batter.

Twelve hours later (day 5) fermentation was clearly visible as a foam of bubbles at the surface, and it smelled nice as before. See photo below.

Wheat sourdough at day 5

However, the sourdough had separated again. See photo below.

Wheat sourdough separation at day 5

Also, the fermentation did not appear vigorous. So I feed again, this time with a slightly thicker mixture (less water). I was hoping that this would result in the sourdough to rise a little bit. Twelve hours later, by day 5.5,  the sourdough looked like this. Now at least the sourdough did not separate, and there appeared to be quite some activity (bubbles), although the dough had not risen at all.

Final form of the sourdough, at day 5.5

I kept feeding the sourdough at 24 hour intervals for another 2-3 days, but the state did not change significantly from day 5.5, so after that I put a freshly fed batch to work in my first loaf of sourdough bread. Read about that here (to be posted soon).


Written by Andreas

September 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Food

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses

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  1. Hi Andreas, it seems that even in France where they have wonderful sourdough bagettes they use rye to start the wheat sourdough, just once in the very beginning, but it seems to work with kefir which is good.

    I have to admit that I have not really worried so much about how much bubbles up my sourdough, I tend to think that if I see the brown liquid, it has bubbled up at some point maybe at night when I sleep or during the day when I am at work. I hardly ever see the sourdough, only when I feed it or when I stir, which is at the same time at the moment. When I then make the bread, I just assume that it will work, and surprisingly it does, even though I tend to put the bread into the oven after maximum 2 h rising, which so far worked out great, otherwise the sourness of the bread might be too strong, and I might not get enough sleep. 🙂


    September 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    • Oh, and I did not find the video.


      September 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      • It should be there now. I accidentally published the post before it was ready, but it should all be fixed by now.

        Andreas Jonsson

        September 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    • Yes, starting the wheat sourdough with a rye sourdough seems to be the cleanest way to go, but I didn’t have one at hand when I started this.

      Initially I worried about the fermentation activity in the starter because Martin said the sourdough is ready when it has doubled in size, however, I never saw hardly any volume increase in the starter. It so thin, I can’t believe it is even possible for it to “double in size”. Also my breads are not quite as fluffy as I would like them to be.

      Andreas Jonsson

      September 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm

  2. […] You can make several types of basic sourdoughs. I decided to make one based on rye flour and one based on wheat flour. My Mom had recommended  Martin Johansson’s blog (in Swedish), which tells you all you need […]

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