This takes around 5 days, so don't get in a hurry! This recipe is a REAL sourdough, you do not add yeast! It pulls wild yeast from the air (yes no matter how clean you think your house is there is yeast bacteria floating around in the air in your home). As each day progresses it will become more bubbly and more sour smelling, hence the name SOURDOUGH.....I actually like to start mine using whole wheat flour the first two or three days then switch to white flour, why? Have no idea, I'm just odd that way. Baking is fun, don't let anyone tell you it's science and must be precise and bla bla bla..
1Day 1 Begin the starter. Using at least a 2-quart glass or plastic container mix water and flour together till you get a smooth dough, loosely cover and set in a semi warm spot for 24 hours, top of fridge works great.
2Day 2 Feed the starter. You may see a few small bubbles here and there, that's good! That means the wild yeast has started working on your flour and water to create carbon dioxide as they eat the natural sugars in the flour. It should have a slight sweet and yeasty smell. Now add 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter, mix till you get a smooth dough, loosely cover and set back on top of fridge
3Day 3 feed the starter. By this time it should smell a little sour and musty. If you stir it at this point you should have a thick batter like feel. That's good! It should also have more bubbles also. Now add 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter, if you would like you can add 1/4 c of wheat germ at this point also, but that's entirely up to you, mix till you get a smooth dough loosely cover and set back on top of fridge
4Day 4 Feed it some more! By now it should have doubled in size and have a lot more bubbles, stir it, by now it should feel much looser than yesterday and should have bubbles throughout the entire dough. It should smell quite sour, taste a little, it should also taste sour. Now add 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter, you can add 1/4 c of wheat germ at this point also, but that's completely up to you, mix till you get a smooth dough loosely cover and set back on top of fridge
5Day 5 Your starter is ready for use!! It should have doubled in size from yesterday. Smelling and tasting very sour, and looking very loose and bubbly. If everything up to this point looked like it should, your starter is ready to use in your favorite sourdough recipe. If not it may be lagging behind a little bit, go to the Day 5 and Beyond instructions.
6Day 5 and Beyond maintaining your starter. Either use from your starter in your favorite sour dough bread recipe or discard half of it and feed it new flour and dough. After discarding half or using Add 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water and stir well making a smooth batter, cover tightly and store inside the fridge.
Once a week take it out and either use part or discard half and add 3/4 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water. Leave it on the counter loosely covered over night then the next morning seal tightly and store back in the fridge.
7How to take a LONG BREAK from your starter: if your going on vacation, or just need a break from your starter, but want to keep it you can do two things.
1. Make a thick starter by feeding it double the amount of flour and creating a more dough like starter, it will hold the natural yeast better and longer over long periods of inactivity in the fridge.
2. Dry the starter by smearing it on a silpat and let it dry. Store it in a tightly sealed jar. It can be stored for months. To restore it mix 4oz of the flakes with 4oz of water (I like hot) and 4 oz of flour, stir till smooth and continue feeding just as you did after day 5.