The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter and Malt

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CountryBoy's picture

Sourdough Starter and Malt

Hi Folks, Hope all is well.  I have been doing a lot of sourdough bread baking since last I asked questions and now need some direction. 1) Up to now I have been using my own wild yeast starter that I make, but am interested in where to go for other starters.  Do I try King Arthurs or do I go to SDI?  Which is best?

Also, when do I use malt?  I read a Whole page on malt in Rose Barenbaum's Bread Bible but it does not say what it is for.  Please advise.  Thanks so much to everyone.  Country Boy

granniero's picture


I am new at sourdough baking,have tried off and on several times and could never get off the ground,baked a number of doorstops before giving up again and again. I tried Carl's starter that you can get free through the mail,loved the idea of the old west,etc. Then tried one of the internationals (SDI),no luck with that either. Just couldn't get the hang of the cycle,when to feed,when to use,etc. Now am on the KA one and have made my first 2 loaves by hand,no machine,no mixer. Had excellent taste,very good crust,probably added too much flour while kneading so no big holes but was happy to sacrifice holes for the flavor I got. Used a recipe from internet at,tho recipes are everywhere. I am happy with my KA starter.Before these 2 good loaves,I had made pancakes and a so-so loaf. Have read about the malt but being new,can't comment there,know it has to do with sweetening. Good luck. Ro in warm Florida

bwraith's picture

I had no problem with the KA SF sourdough starter. I still have it a couple of years later. They literally sent some wet starter in a small plastic jar. I just fed it, and it came to life. I've refrigerated it, feed it occasionally to keep it from going bad, and once in a while I revive it and make bread with it.

I use my own starter more than the KA starter. Mine is a little milder and more vigorous, so it's better for my purposes since I don't particularly like very sour bread. However, maybe that's one of those self-fulfilling prophecies, as feeding it much more often may be why it's milder and vigorous. 

Still, having done both, I'd say it's a lot easier when you're getting started to buy a starter, but it's an interesting exercise to make your own.

Given I use it so infrequently, I don't know why I keep the KA starter anymore, except some sort of feeling of loss of the effort I put into maintaining it all this time - totally irrational, but it's in the refrigerator still cranking along so far.

pumpkinpapa's picture

If you are using organic flours then you may need to use malt as some of these are pure flours, in that nothing is added to it during milling unlike non-organic's which generally always have malted barley flour added during milling.

The malt helps to release enzyme's from the wheats starch resulting in better carmelization in the crust.

You add it in when mixing the dough. Remember that diastatic malt is the enzyme enhancer and non-diastatic is only a flavour enhancer. 

CountryBoy's picture

 Many thanks for the feed back,  Countryboy