How do you make a sourdough. OK, so this is a cheat and purists will shudder, but sourdough is as individual as the person who is making it and, whatever the 'experts' say, there is no one, definitive method.
This is what I do.
Start with half a tbsp dried yeast. It doesn't matter which kind. This is the cheat because real sourdough waits to 'catch' natural yeasts from the air. This one has a big helping hand! The disadvantage is that, at first, the flavour won't be sourdough-y enough, the big advantage is that it is a shorter process and more sure of success in the initial stages.
Anyway - the yeast - put it in a bowl. To it add one cup of bread flour - any kind, half a tbsp sugar and one and a quarter cups of warm water. The amounts aren't exact, to be honest - rough and ready works just as well.
Mix them all together until it's fairly smooth. A few lumps don't matter; they will disappear.
Then just leave it on the side, covered with a clean towel or similar.
Firstly it will bubble. . .
Every time you mix it up, it will bubble, then settle but you don't have to mix it too much. If you forget, it isn't a disaster!
If it goes pink (they tell me), then throw it out and start again. The longer you leave it, the sourer it will be.
Now, what you have to do with sourdough is keep feeding it now and again. That means take one cup of it and put it into a clean bowl, then add a cup of flour and a cup of water, mix it well and leave it as before. What's left is called the 'discard' and one is supposed to throw it out, hence the name.
But I don't, partly because my frugal soul rebels at the thought and because you can make wonderful crumpets and pancakes with the discard. I'll post about them separately.
And as for the dourdough - keep it on the side if you intend to feed it every now and again (such as every couple of days) and use it, but you can keep it, covered, in the fridge where it goes sort of dormant and doesn't need feeding that often. Another feed activates it again!
After feeding . . .
(By the way, I used wholewheat bread flour to start it off and a mix of plain flour and strong wholewheat to feed it. It's not that fussy. The flavours will be a bit different but my palate isn't that sophisticated!)