The instructions that you receive with your cup worth of starter list out a ten day script of what you have to do before you can bake anything. I have taken pictures through my starter's journey. Here you go:
DAY 1: The day you receive your starter you don't have to do anything. Make sure that date is written in a place you can easily keep track. I use a sticky note on the lid of my jar.
|You'll see the yeast action grow each day|
|I just use a chopstick or sometimes just swirl the jar around. Only takes a second!|
DAY 4: Stir
DAY 5: Stir
DAY 6: Feed the starter and move to a larger container.
Add one cup of milk, one cup of sugar and one cup of flour to the starter and mix well.
|See all the pretty bubbles?|
|Whisk them away!|
DAY 8: Stir
DAY 9: Stir
DAY 10: Baking Day!!
Feed your starter again by adding another 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups milk. Separate out four portions: one for you to bake in 10 days time
and three more to pass along to friends along with a set of instructions.
Now for a few important notices:
Never use any metal when stirring or storing your starter.
There are some recipes that tell you to store your starter in a ziploc-type bag. Then there are some that say not to because it needs to breath. This makes sense to me so I store mine in a mason jar with the lid on but not tightened. Then I use a glass dish with a lid that is not airtight for the second stage.
If you are not able to bake on day 10, put your starter in the freezer. If you just need one more day, the fridge will do but it will bubble up so make sure it is in a big enough container.
I have found a great website for variations and even for the starter itself if you want to start from scratch. The variations I have tried are:
The Basic--delicious and perfect for snacking, breakfast or dessert
Banana--kids loved these, I made it into muffins
Chocolate Chocolate Chip--do you really need me to tell you that this was AMAZING?!
I often bake and put one loaf in the freezer once it is cool. I also have several starters in the freezer because once you have given one to all your friends, what are you supposed to do with them? My plans are to bake a bunch of loaves for Easter. We'll see if that happens. I suppose you could just bake it all up on Day 10 and end up with 10 loaves of bread! Have fun!!