The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Milk in Starter Recipe

jgonyo's picture

Milk in Starter Recipe

I am new to the board, and have a question about  recipes for sourdough starters.  I  have been looking at different recipes for sourdough and the starter in preparation for attempting my first sourdough bread.  A recipe I found in a William Sonoma cookbook called for milk and flour in the starter.  All of the other recipes I have found call for flour and water.  Has anybody made a starter with flour and milk?  Or is flour and water the standard?  Thanks for your help 

mij.mac's picture

The idea of milk in the starter comes from a misunderstanding of the fact that there are lactobacilli in a sourdough starter. Put milk in your bread if you like for flavour and character but not in your new starter. 
The commonest way is to get some organic flour, whole grain if you can and mix it with enough water to make a paste, about a spoonful. Leave it somewhere covered with film or plastic at a comfortable temperature for you with light clothes for 24 hours.
Then, you only need a spoonful, feed it equal parts of the same and leave for 24 hours.
As soon as you notice that it's doubling in volume you can feed it again. When it's doubling in volume in just a few hours it's ready to build for bread or you mature it a few more days but most of us are too impatient for this, and I don't see the point in waiting myself unless you already have a starter. 
Don't forget the rule of thumb is equal parts and you don't need more than a spoonful until you start to build it for baking. 


pmccool's picture

Here's a link to the process that Sourdolady has shared on this site for building a sourdough starter from scratch:

Using this, I was able to get a successful starter up and running, which I had not been successful with previously. You'll find a number of other posters on this site who have had the same experience.

Mijmac is correct that dairy products can certainly be used in a starter, but are not necessary.

Best wishes for lots of bubbles.


pumpkinpapa's picture

I have made starter from Kefir milk and it made for a great tasting and highly volatile starter, like a whole wheat starter, and it is great for pizza crust. I also have starter made with grape skins, also very volatile and slightly more alcohol taste than Sourdolady's recipe, which I used for a whole wheat starter.

You can make starter in many ways. Using the yeasts present on fruit skins, cultured milk, or sprouted grains can all lead to great starters just like flour and water.

Check out Sourdolady's recipe mentioned above or even the Desem which JMonkey did

Lets us know how it all comes out. 

ehanner's picture

I obtained a starter from a friend who has a commercial bakery in New Mexico and is very successful in the food business in general. When I got the instructions she said I should feed the starter a 50/50 by volume mix of skim milk and AP flour. This is and old starter and has a wonderful aroma although I'm not sure how the aroma relates to the sour starter in use. I eventually switched to a water mix because I grew tired of having to keep a supply of skim milk on hand. I haven't noticed a big change in the aroma or for that matter the bread now that I'm on a water formula. The link above to the process written by "sourdolady" is probably the best advice for quick reliable success. Good luck and enjoy!