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Monday, October 24, 2016

Making Natural Yeast (Sourdough starter) 自制_ 天然酵母 (面粉和水)

This is not my first time dealing with natural yeast. The first time i made natural yeast with apple. I didn't continue to bake with the first natural yeast as that time i was a busy working mom (it was 4 years back) and also has limited information of maintaining a natural yeast (the first natural yeast cookbook i bought was in Japanese, Lolz). Until few months back, i met two new friends and now became lost sisters ^_^, Jennifer and Elvina. Jennifer has been baking with natural yeast whereas Elvina love to eat sourdough bread (she is expert in eating very rusty sourdough bread which taste sour , hard and thick crust ^_^). Slowly i was influenced by them and start back to make my own natural yeast with the consultation by Jennifer and few of my Instagram's friends. This time i made Sourdough starter just using flour and water. There are many ways to get natural yeast, Asian way usually used dried fruits or fresh fruits to make yeast water then add flour to make the starter. This time i prefer simple way of natural yeast using sourdough method, just need flour and water, which are easily obtain in my kitchen. Some of you might already know the benefits of baking with natural yeast, if you not, please google for the answers as i am not the expert to tell you the benefits. Some of you may ask me will the bread using sourdough starter tasted sour? If you are making a rustic country bread, yes, it taste sour because of long fermentation. If you using it to make Asian sweet buns,even you can make into bao or kuih-muih, you will not taste sour because the short fermentation and the way of keeping the starter (will share later).

Why only flour and water can create such amazing active bubbles that so called natural yeast ? This is because the enzymes exists naturally in the flour when mix with water will convert sugar in the flour into glucose, and release carbon dioxide and create many bubbles and help the dough to expand. 

This recipe is based on my own experiments and method. You can try with your own method, there is no right or wrong, so long you can develop an active natural starter. The warm weather in Asean countries is best place to develop active natural yeast. Please free yourself for at least 7 days to prepare this starter ^_^, especially on the day 2 which rather important (you will know why in the below details).
For this sourdough starter, i use a common brand of plain flour or all purpose flour (blue key brand) . As i understand this flour is unbleached and good quality (accordingly to the source that i obtained). Anyway you can use organic and unbleached flour if you are affordable for it. As for water, i use filtered water that directly from tap which connected to a water filter. Time indication just a guideline.

Day 1 (9.45am) ~room temperature
-prepare a dry and clean glass jar ( I use 1 litre glass jar bought from Ikea , height is 17cm)
-weight the empty jar (important to weight as later you need to know the starter weight in order to discard some )
- Add 100g flour into bottom of jar, then pour in 100g filtered water and stir until well incorporated. Loosely cover the jar with cling film. Tie with a rubber band to mark the original level. Leave the jar at a warm spot (on the counter top or inside the kitchen cabinet).
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached) 
100g filtered water

Day 2 ~room temperature
-You can see the mixture has risen almost double and full of small bubbles. 
1st feeding -7.30am
Start to feed with same amount of flour and filtered water, stir to mix well.
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached)
100g filtered water

This is not yeast yet but some kind of bacteria

2nd feeding-1pm (after 5 and 1/2hrs)
- The mixture is very active and rise till double less than 6hrs. This time you need to discard 50% of the starter (weight the whole jar, minus out the weight of the jar, then you get the net weight of starter). Feed the same amount of flour and filtered water, stir to mix well.
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached)
100g filtered water

Day 3 ( 8.30am) ~room temperature
- The starter did not rise, a layer of liquid on top, pour away the liquid before feeding with flour and water, stir to mix well:-
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached)
50g filtered water 

A layer of liquid on top 

Slowly pour away the liquid

After feeding flour and water in the morning, you can see few tiny bubbles in the afternoon, these are yeast !!

Day 4 ( 7.45am)~room temperature
- The starter did not rise, many tiny bubbles, discard 50% of the starter before feed with flour and water, stir to mix well:-
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached)
75g filtered water

Day 5 (11.30am)~room temperature
-The starter did not rise , little bubbles, feed with flour and water, stir to mix well :-
100g plain flour or all purpose flour (unbleached)
75g filtered water 

Day 6 (11.15am)~room temperature
- the starter has risen double, full of bubbles
- Discard 200g of starter and feed with equal amount of flour and water, stir to mix well:-
100g flour
100g filtered water 

At 1.15pm ( Natural yeast is ready !!)
Full of bubbles
Risen more than double 

If can, give your starter a name, she is like  your baby ^_^ My first starter named as "Everest" 

First i removed 200g new sourdough starter to make these Pita bread at the same day, will share the recipe soon.

Then feed the starter with 100g flour and 100g filtered water, stir to mix well.

Store in the fridge (mark the original level with rubber band)

Day 7 ( 7.30am) -start to split original starter into two starters
- you may omit this step if you do not wish to maintain two starters at the same time.
-Why i split into two? Because i want another starter to feed with bread flour instead of plain flour, so i can use it to make bread. As for the original starter with plain flour, i will use it for pita bread, bao, steamed mantou and etc.

Even the starter kept inside the fridge, it still risen a bit

Bring it out from fridge and set aside at a warm place

After 2 hrs, it has risen till double

 Start to split equal amount of starter into two clean jar (or one of the jar, you can use back the same original jar)

Add equal amount of flour and water, stir to mix well. One jar with plain flour and water, another jar with bread flour (unbleached ) with water

Mix well

clean the jar

Now you have two starters !! Store them in the fridge if you are no planning to use them at the same day. NOW your natural yeast baking is begin ! I will share more recipes in the coming posts ^_^

Feed your starter with equal amount of flour and water once in a week (if in between you did not use them) . If you feel the amount is too much, you may discard some before feeding them.

Feedback from my reader who using difference brand of flour.
Natural yeast made by Stephanie Ang who using Baker's choice unbleached all purposed flour. Thanks to her for kind sharing.


1) All Purpose flour (Baker’s Choice)
2) Filtered Tap Water


1) Clean Glass Bottle
2) Silicone spatula for mixing and scraping sides of bottle

22/10/2016  -  Day 1 (11pm)

1) Weigh glass bottle.  Record down the weight.
2) Add 40gm flour + 40gm filtered water.
3) Mix vigorously together.
4) Close bottle lid loosely.
5) Labeled bottle with date and leave overnight at room temperature

23/10/2016 – Day 2 (11pm)

After 24 hours culture doubled with a lot bubbles on top.
1) Discard culture and leave only the weight of bottle + 40 gms of culture.
2) Mix another 40gm flour and 40gm filtered water .
3) Leave overnight at room temperature.

24/10/2016- Day 3 (11pm)

There was still quite a lot of activity.
Smell a bit sourish.
There was brownish water on top, discard.
Repeat feeding steps as Day 2

25/10/2016 Day 4 (11pm)

Culture still active, small bubbles.
Smell a bit sourish.
There was brownish water on top, discard.
Repeat feeding steps as Day 2

26/10/2016 Day 5 (11pm)
Active, small bubbles, rise 1 quarter from original size.  
Smells floury, sweet and sourish.
Repeat feeding same steps as Day 2

27/10/2016   Day 6 (11pm)
Active, small bubbles. rise 1 quarter from original size.
Repeat feeding steps as Day 2

28/10/2016 Day 6 (9am )

After 10 hrs , SD starter doubled  very active,  feeding it the 2nd time (Repeat steps as day2)
After 2 hrs, culture was active but only rise one quarter of its size. 
Smells like wine, sourish.
Left it at room temperature till 6pm and it rise till more than double.
Did not discard but feed the starter with 50gm flour and 35gm filtered water and then keep in

29/10/2016 Day 7 (9am )

Took out SD starter from fridge leave at room temperature for 1 hr
Feed it 20gm flour 20 gm filtered water.
Wait for 2 hrs for it to double.
Weigh some out to make pita bread and the balance feed 20gm flour and water each and keep in fridge.


Would like to add that every time when we want to do feeding , do not stir the culture before  discarding it.  Just pour out whatever you don’t want (weighing it of course). 
Then start feeding it with flour and water.
Mix well do not leave lumps of flour in the culture and scrape the side of the bottle clean with silicone spatula so that you can see clearly from outside whether the SD starter rise or not.


Jomel said...

For the first 7days the starter is kept outside fridge? And do u stir it after adding flour and water for each feed? What is the smell of the starter at 7th day??

PH said...

I love sourdough bread. To me it is very ho chiak. Thanks for this detailed sharing. Quite a long process and I can't do it unless if I got one whole week holiday. But will bookmark for future.

Nic said...

Hi Sonia. Is it OK if I make the yeast using unbleached bread flour since I will use it to bake bread only?

Unknown said...

Sonia, what a detailed post!!!! Just curious, for the feeding process, do you need to mix the newly added flour and water into the mixture?
I never imagine you only used just flour and water! Amazing!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Jomel, Yes, keep it in the room temp for first 7 days. Yes stir well after each feeding. For me , it smell like wine ^_^

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Phong Hong, hope you can start it soon .

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Nic, i have not tried with bread flour before, but i think should be ok since any type of grains can be used it to make starter. Yes try to use unbleached flour.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

VoneEGilia, maybe my post is not detail enough, i have to revise it,Lolz. yes you need to stir and mix well when feeding with flour and water.

My Little Space said...

Sonia, this is a great post. I love sourdough bread. My first attempt was several years back. Unfortunately, non of my family members love sourdough bread except ME. Its hard to bake something that no one appreciated and I can't finish it all by myself. So, have to stop baking it for time being. You're so lucky to have your new friends. Enjoy life dear !
Best wishes, Kristy

chow and chatter said...

neat looking forward to seeing all you make with it

Kirsty Vittetoe said...

This is fascinating Sonia! I have been a frequent visitor at your blog and admired your cooking skill, however, I didn't have much time to try but simply browsing through your post bring me great joy. Thanks for sharing!
I do have a few questions about natural yeast as I am a newbies to bread making, hope you are able to help me, thanks!
1. I live in Las Vegas, it is the desert, dry heat, not humid like in Singapore, do I follow the same steps you do or should I wait for longer time until it reaches the level as shown? When I bake bread, I do need longer time than most recipes, however, after I bought a bread proof box, it did reduced proofing time.
2. Once the yeast are ready, is it something you can keep in the fridge and keep adding flour and water to feed?
3. If I use natural yeast to replace store bought yeast, how do I know how much yeast to use?
Thank you so much for taking time to read my question.

~ Kirsty Vittetoe

Christine said...

Sourdough is my favorite bread - I am a diabetic and I find that eating sourdough bread it doesn't spike my blood sugar. I guess it might the natural yeast process. Great illustration and recipes.

Ana Regalado said...

To tell you the truth I don't really like chewy bread so maybe that's the reason why I'm so lazy to make another go at making sourdough starter after my first failed attempt lol

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Kirsty Vittetoe, yes, if by Day 7, if you didn't see much activities , you can continue to feed and suggest to discard some . Yes once yeast is ready, you can store it in the fridge, feed once in a week if you are not using it. So far i have yet to come out a standard calculation of replacing store bought yeast especially for Asian white loaf and sweet buns. Anyway, I will study and share in my coming post.

Kirsty Vittetoe said...

Thanks for answering my doubt Sonia!

Joe said...

Thanks for your sharing! I gave it a try and it is in Day 2 now. However I didn't get the same results as yours.
Mine continue to rise after Day 2 second feed. Any idea what went wrong? May I know how should I proceed from here onwards?

Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Joe, what brand of all purpose flour you are using? difference brand of flour act differencely. Don't worry, you can still continue feed, discard half and feed twice in a day if it is still continue rise. When it stop rising actively, then you can feed one time in a day , continue until 7 days. In between you can discard some of the starter.

Joe said...

Thanks Sonia! That's what I did until it stop rising on Day 4, and continue with daily feed. Now into Day 5, hope it turns out well. BTW, I am using the Origin organic HI protein flour.

Jasmine said...

Hi Sonia, can I start with bread flour instead plain flour. As I only wan to use it for bread.


Unknown said...

Hi Sonia, I have came to the final stage of the sour dough starter making, and it's doing well, thanks for the details guidance.... my question is on the feeding on the balance dough .. eg. the total weight of the starter is 500g .. and I have used half of it ... how much flour and water should I feed the balance ..?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Yien King Chua, sorry for my late reply, next time you can drop me an email or leave comment at my Instagram account (sonianll) for speedy response. You can feed with 100g flour and 100g water, actually any amount will do, so long both have the same amount of flour and water.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Jasmine, i would advise you to start with plain flour as the success rate is higher . Once you success then only you start to feed with bread flour. otherwise keep both, as you can use plain flour starter to make many foods like chiffon cake, baozi and kuih muih

Teng said...

Hi. Can I know if the bread recipe called for dry instant yeast say 6gm, do I replace it with 6gm of sourdough?


Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Teng, no, it is totally difference calculation. 6g sourdough is way too little to make bread. You can check my Sourdough bread recipe .

Teng said...

Hi Sonia. Thanks for reply. I'll check out your recipe. Have a blessed weekend.

Unknown said...

Hi Sonia, what is the title of the natural yeast book that you bought in Japan?

Michael said...

Hi Sonia, May I know if you will stir the mixture before you split them into 2 jars after the Day 7?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Chan, don't need to stir , just scoop and split them.

Denise said...

Hi Sonia, I am follow your sourdough starter's instruction line by line.I am on day sixth now. The starter has not risen double and full of bubbles as your instruction. Mine just has a few bubble on the top of the starter. What should I do now? Wait until the starter has risen double and full of bubbles and then continue with day 7th? Or throw it away and start again? Thanks.
Where I live is humid but I have air condition in my house. Up to now, my starter is almost as your except day 3rd. Mine did not have a layer of liquid on top to pour away.

Domodomo said...

Hi Sonia, I m so sad, I creating my SD starter using T55 wheat flour (no mention on unbleach), now its day 11, did not rise but got small bubble.... smell from soury turn to floury, what should I do the next? Does tis means my SD starter went coma? I have to start all over agains?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Denise, sorry for my late reply. Yes you should continue till day 7th or maybe 8th. If still no sign of risen, then you have to do it again. Make sure all your tools are free of grease and dirt.

Domodomo, since already day 11 no sign of activeness, then you have to redo again.

CT said...

Hi Sonia, Thank you for your sourdough starter recipe. Basically I use it to make bao as it is much fluffier and tastier. I also understand that I can use this to make a basic white bread. I am not sure how much sourdough starter to use and how much other ingredients to use to make a loaf of bread. By any chance do you have a recipe to make bread using sourdough starter as a guideline for me to start with. I have make a loaf of bread today but it is too chewy and doesn't rise as much as it should be for a bread. It just stay quite flat.

I look forward for your advice.

Thank you.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

CT, you may check other sourdough recipes on my sourdough label.

Jennifer said...


Evelyn said...

My starter skipped day 5 and went directly from day 4 to day 6. Then I left it in the fridge. When I tried to use it, following your wholemeal bread recipe, it didn't rise after 2 hrs. Not sure what's the problem here. Did my yeast died or just need to wait longer for it to wake up?

Charlie Antonio said...

Hi Denise, how is your starter? Do you start over as what is recommended by Sonia? Reason asking this is because I am having same issue as what you described. Appreciate your sharing. Thanks

Unknown said...

Hi, Sonia. Would like to try this starter. But, after 7 days at room tempaerature, when do i have to feed them? Everyday?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Nova, you can store in the fridge and feed once a week, or you want them to become stronger, you can feed 2-3 times a days, discard and feed . Keep the discard levain and you can use it to make soft bread, waffle, crepes, cake ,muffin and a lot of things .

Unknown said...

Thank you, Sonia. Hope i can make it ☺

Anonymous said...

Sonia...ihave no fridge..does it store in room temperature.thnank you

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Dila, if you don't have fridge, then you have to feed the starter 2-3 times a day .

Anonymous said...

Hi Sonia,
Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I have successfully made SD using bread no bleach flour. I am looking forward to bake my first bread with SD this weekend.
Hope it turn out great.

Shin Ying

Anonymous said...

Hi Sonia, I do not Hv filter water. Can I still make this?

helphealth said...

Hi Sonia, thanks for your recipe for sour dough starter, it's so in detail. I am on my second day of the starter but after the 2nd time adding the flour and water, the starter is still rising to double the size like before, it didn't hv much water on top. What should i do for the 3rd day? Hear yr reply soon. Tqvm. 😊

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Mixue, you can use tap water but let it sit for overnight before use it.

Helphealth, don’t worry , Day 2-3 still at bacteria stage , discard half of volume too much and keep feeding when it is double .

helphealth said...

Hi Sonia, very thanks for your reply. Today is my starter's 6th day. But unfortunately it seems it's not active enough. It got few bubbles on top but not double in size 😓 May I know if this is normal or I should start over again. Note: it's no more with foul smell. But not yeast smell as well.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Helpheatlh, yes, just continue feeding , maybe another 2-3 and see the progress .

Anonymous said...

If I start using bread flour, can I remove half out from the original and feed on plain flour for bao and kuih. Please advise. Thanks.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Ann, yes , you can , this is so called levain method , you take some mother starter and put into another clean jar , and feed with 1:1:1 ratio starter:flour:water equal amount . After it has rise till double or triple or pass float test , then you can use it to make pau and etc.

Anonymous said...

Ann here, thank you for your reply. One more question, if i am not using it can i keep in the fridge after it rise till double and how to maintain it. Thanks.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Ann, after it has rise double, you can't keep in the fridge, otherwise it will run out of foods. So what you need to do is either use it immediately or discard half of it, feed new flour and water, then you can keep inside the fridge. Refresh it after one week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. Sorry to disturb you but I already put in the fridge after it rise to double. What should I do now? Should I take it out from the fridge, remove half and feed the original then immediately keep in the fridge?
Thanks, Ann

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Ann, yes you can

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