The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie questions

Juleeque's picture

Newbie questions

hello all! My name is Julie and I have been baking yeast breads for over 20 years. I am new to sourdough bread though  and wanted to start off with a few simple question. I read about the 1:2:2 ratio but if you don't have a starter how do you get the first part of that ratio?   I researched and saw a 1:1 ratio  (water:flour), to do a brand new start, is this indeed how I do a brand new start?   I understand the 1:2:2 ratio, I just want to be sure to create my start correctly 😊

Thx for yalls time! ~Julie

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

1 part starter + 2 parts water + 2 parts flour by weight! 

This is how a feed, or build, is expressed. Could be used when making a starter, maintaining a starter or prepping  a starter. 

Don't get too bogged down by this ratio or where it fits. If you understand the ratio then that's fine for now. 

Now you need a starter. How do you make one? Well you mix flour and water then wait till it activates. But it's not ready to use yet! It'll need to be strengthened over a week or two before it's ready to use to make bread. So what you'll do is keep the yeasts and bacteria alive by giving them food. Once they are strong and predictable you've got your starter. But you don't wish to keep doing this everything you want bread so you make sure to always keep some behind for the next bake. 

Take a look at this video on how to make a starter....

Don't get too bogged down by the different flours. Any will do. Just make sure it's unbleached. Wholegrain is better and wholegrain rye is best of all. 

Keeping your starter at 78°F will move things along a lot faster. 

Your starter is alive so don't expect to to react in exactly the same way in the same time schedule. It'll take time and patience. 

If you run into issues then do not panic. Post your question back here before you do anything rash. 


Filomatic's picture

I used this and really like way the process is documented.  You have to cycle through page by page to see the whole story.

Juleeque's picture

Wow! That certainly explained it quite well! Now I know! For right now I want to make a 100% spelt sourdough loaf. Recipes? 

Thx. J

Juleeque's picture

ok so I watched the video and read the article and on one of the instructions it said that if I didn't want to throw half the starter away each day to just make a smaller batch... so... I'm using 100% fresh ground (I grind it) spelt. I put 1 heaping tsp in glass jar and add 1 tsp cool water, stir with a metal spoon, cover with towel and repeat morning and evening. The result after a week was:  I'd check it am and pm and there would be a thin layer of water on top and maybe some bubble. There didn't seem to be any obvious rising, no foamy bubbles (just light bubbles). It did have a pleasant sour odor, then I skipped a feeding and it quickly turned to an obvious fermented odor. 

I don't want to do the larger amounts as this is organic spelt grain and I can't afford to throw it away and the diet I'm temporarily on won't allow me to use it elsewhere.  


1- why was my starter so 'flat'?

2- is a metal spoon ok to use to stir it?

3- should I use warmer water to mix with flour?

4- should I wrap it up in a thicker towel? My kitchen has a tendency to be a little chilly.

5- any other suggestions? 

Thx. Julie

David R's picture
David R

... such a small amount might be a disadvantage. People establish colonies, not only yeast; imagine a human colony trying to set up society inside of a bathtub. 🙂


More importantly, you'll need to weigh everything - no teaspoons for the amounts. If you don't have a scale and you plan to make bread, you need a scale, first. They're not very expensive, though I know everything adds up.


If your stirring spoon is a terrible spoon with a noticeable ugly metallic taste when you lick it, throw it away. But if you used any reasonable ordinary spoon (that wasn't soapy or very dirty), then it's fine. (Sadly, a moderately dirty spoon is much safer than a soapy one, for your starter.)

AnnaD's picture

Hello sourdough making friend's. I can honestly say I have at last given up on ever making a decent loaf of sourdough bread. I do not know how you do it. It looks fairly easy on video's I've watched, and even more straight forward in the book I bought but no way, I cannot do it. I even have a successful starter (that only took me a month or so)..

There has to be a secret to it, a secret I can't find. I have read through more baker's life stories then I can tell you about or want to tell you about just to get to the part that tells me what I am looking for.. I am convinced that it is impossible and therefore if you see a forlorn shadow quietly going into the night its me. Thanks for your help, sorry to disappoint..

David R's picture
David R

... anyone, by not making a certain type of bread.


There's no shame in deciding not to continue something that isn't working. It just saves your time and energy for something else.