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Lazy Sourdough Method

Want to dip your toe into sourdough but intimidated by the process? I’ve got you covered with this lazy sourdough method!

sourdough starter in a jar rough and tumble farmhouse

What is Sourdough?

Sourdough refers in general to baked goods made using a sourdough starter. This starter is alive! It is made up of natural yeast that you feed, take a small portion of it, add other ingredients to it, then bake it. Rather than use commercial yeast to get your baked goods to rise, the natural activity of the wild yeast creates the rising action. 

​What is the lazy sourdough method?

I’ve heard from many people that they would love to do sourdough, but they don’t want all the work of dealing with sourdough starter. If this sounds like you, then don’t worry. I’m about to change your mind and give you the courage and confidence you need that yes, you can fit sourdough into your spare time.

​I don’t have an exact schedule for my sourdough starter.

I don’t give it feedings every day or even every other day.

There is no sourdough discard to deal with.

I bake with it only when I want to. 

I never measure the flour or water I put in it.

My starter still gets me great bread, pancakes, bagels, etc. 

Sound good?

If you are considering trying this lazy method I would highly recommend checking out this YouTube video! You will be able to see the amounts and textures I am talking about in real time. 

YouTube player

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.

Timing your Sourdough Baking

To get your sourdough starter ready to rock and roll we need to feed that wild yeast!

Even though this method is super easy, it does take a long time compared to a standard yeasted loaf of bread. You will need to be aware of when you are running low on baked goods. When I notice we have a few slices of bread left, that is when I pull out my starter to start waking it up. 

Most sourdough recipes take at least a 12 hour fermentation process before they are ready to bake. Let’s say you feed your starter on Monday night. You might mix up the recipe Tuesday morning, then not actually bake it until Wednesday morning.

For my favorite bread recipe (coming to the blog soon!) I feed my starter before bed, mix up the dough in the morning, let it ferment all day, then bake it right before bed. This works out perfectly so I have fresh bread ready to go for morning toast or breakfast sandwiches.

In general, I recommend taking your starter out of the fridge and feeding it the night before you are going to mix up your recipe.

sourdough method pinterest graphic

Prepping the Starter

​The first thing we need to do is get that starter going the night before you plan to use it. I typically wake mine up around 8:30 p.m. after the kids are in bed.

​Simply take your unfed starter from the fridge or countertop, and feed it. I usually give mine about a cup of flour. I use all purpose flour. I’m not sure if bread flour would yield much difference.

Again, I don’t actually measure this. If my sleepy starter is taking up about 1/4 of the one quart mason jar it lives in, I’ll add flour until it is about half full. 

Next, I pour in room temperature water. If you live in the city and have treated water you might want to find out what they use as it might not be good for your starter. Our tap water comes from our well, so it would probably be fine. Still, I usually use the water from our filter.

If you want to expedite the waking up process you can add warm water to the starter rather than room temperature, but don’t use hot. That can damage the little yeasty beasties!

I’ll add maybe a fourth cup at a time. Stirring after each water addition until I get it the consistency I like. For me it is similar to a thick pancake batter. If it gets a little too soupy, then add in a little more flour. 

loaf of sourdough bread rough and tumble farmhouse

Overnight Ferment

Next, you just let your starter do its thing. I loosely set the lid of my starter on top of the jar. This is so the carbon dioxide created by your starter can escape. Do not cover it with plastic wrap or a tight seal of any kind. A paper towel with a rubber band, a few layers of cheesecloth, etc. area good idea to keep bugs out. Fruit flies especially love the tangy smell of dough ferments!

The next morning your starter should be bubbly, smelling wonderful, and ready to bake bread, mix in a recipe, etc!

Resting the Starter

To the remaining bubbly starter, add a couple big scoops of flour. Mix this in. You should have something almost as thick as cookie dough now. If you were to stand your sourdough jar upside down, it should all stay stuck together.

Place a lid on top of the starter. Store it in the fridge.

THAT’S IT.

When it comes time to use your starter again, simply pull it out of the fridge the night before you plan to use it, and feed it.  

After you’ve used this lazy method, when you first feed your starter again I would advise giving it a little water first, then adding in flour as needed. Before you put the starter to bed last time you fed it extra flour, so adding in water first will give you an idea if you need more flour or not. You might not need a whole cup of flour on top of what you already put in.

Storing the Starter

My starter lives quite contentedly this way for most of the week. I certainly pull my starter out at least once a week to make sandwich bread. About every other week I make a big batch of bagttels. 

Other than that, it lives contentedly tucked in its little flour bed for about 5.5 of the 7 days in a week.

You can easily leave it for longer in this state, up to several weeks.  

​While it should last just fine for even a few months in this state, I do recommend dehydrating some starter to keep on hand as backup if something were to happen to your starter. 

packet of dehydrated sourdough starter rough and tumble farmhouse

Does this lazy method damage a sourdough starter?

Not that I know of. I’ve been making my bread this lazy way for years and have always had good oven spring and a bread that tastes delicious.

What if it gets a brown liquid on top?

It is normal to sometimes see a brownish or even blackish liquid on top of starter that has been in the fridge a while. Totally normal. Most people call it “hooch,” I’m assuming because it smells like a strong booze. You can pour this off or mix it in.

This is usually the sign of a starter that is hungry. Feed it more flour next time before putting it to bed. Again, nothing to worry about here.

There is maybe mold?

You might see something called kahm yeast on starter with a liquidy top, and that is fine.

Other things that are more troublesome however are pinks, greens, black (not hooch but more a speckly moldy black), and straight up fuzzy stuff. 

If you ever see that in your starter please throw it away. 

Where can I get sourdough starter?

We will soon have some available in our online farm stand! In the meantime you can order from Sourdough on the Farm, check out some on Amazon, or even get some for free that has a line going all the way back to the Oregon Trail!

More Baking!

Here are a few sourdough resources along with some non-sourdough homemade bread recipes.

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