Why you need a Dry Sourdough Starter

Like many people, I jumped on the sourdough bandwagon in the spring of 2020. I filled my jug of water and flour and babied it like crazy. For the last year, I have loved baking with my jug of starter, but I haven’t liked how much attention it has needed to stay vibrant. That is why I am sharing with you why you need a dry sourdough starter.

measuring bread ingredients on a kitchen scale

I had been wanting to dig my heels into the sourdough world for awhile when the sourdough craze of 2020 hit. It was just the push I needed to finally get started with sourdough.

Like many people, I was a bit overwhelmed with establishing my starter. There were so many recipes online for getting one going and I finally landed on the one I shared in my Sourdough French Bread post.

For the record, it isn’t that difficult and it is almost too easy. I think that’s where many get hung up on getting theirs established. It’s all about discarding, feeding, and repeating.

I baked with my starter for over a year and the only thing I didn’t like is that I felt like required a lot of flour. That’s when I began researching something called a dry sourdough starter.

a baked loaf of sourdough on a cooling rack

What is a dry sourdough starter?

A dry sourdough starter is simply a combination of starter, flour, and water that creates a much dryer starter.

You don’t have to tend to your dry starter nearly as much as you do your wet starter that sits in a jug on your counter.

The amount of dry starter you keep on hand is much smaller, too. You can keep it in a small, airtight container in your fridge until you need to bake with it.

how to make a dry sourdough starter

How do you make a Dry Sourdough Starter?

Making your own dry starter is quite simple. All you need is some established starter, flour, and water.

I used my established, wet starter to create a dry starter by using these proportions:

  • 20 grams starter
  • 50 grams warm water (mix these together)
  • 100 grams unbleached all-purpose flour

This will create enough starter to make 4-5 loaves of bread. I will share how to make a loaf later, but this is all you will keep on hand.

When you have around 20 grams left in your container, simply mix up some more starter. You won’t have to feed your starter otherwise! Just make sure you have a little left in your container to make more when you are close to being out of your dry starter.

weighing bread ingredients

Why do you measure in grams?

It’s odd for some of us to measure things in grams. You are probably used to measuring things in cups.

Measuring baked goods in grams is much more accurate and gives you a more consistent product. Especially when you’re baking breads, measuring in grams is the best way to get a good loaf.

A little tip is to be sure you “tare” in between each addition. Tare means to zero out your scale.

For example, set your bowl on your scale. Tare the scale so it is back at zero. Add your 20 grams of starter. Tare your scale so it is back at zero. Add the 50 grams of warm water. Tare. Add the flour to the scale.

This makes sure you get the precise amounts needed to create a great loaf.

A digital scale is cheap and worth every penny.

a dry sourdough starter
Top: Fresh Dry Starter before sitting for 6 hours ; Bottom: Dry Starter after sitting out for 6 hours

Steps for Maintaining your Dry Starter

It can be confusing going from a wet starter to a dry starter, but once you make your dry starter and use it once, you will breathe a sigh of relief because it is so less fussy than a wet starter.

  • Make your dry starter using the instructions above
  • Use all of your starter in your container, except the last 20 grams
  • When you only have 20 grams of starter left whip up some more starter using the ratios above
  • Allow the starter to sit on your counter for 6-10 hours to get bubbly
  • Pop it in the fridge until you are ready to bake/cook something
steps for rehydrating a dry sourdough starter

What do I do if I want to bake with my Dry Starter?

As with anything concerning sourdough, you have to plan a bit ahead. Sourdough needs time to activate and get “happy” so be sure to plan ahead.

Sourdough starter is acting as your yeast and you need to feed it (flour and water) to prepare it to make your bread rise.

If I know I want to make something with my starter the next day, I rehydrate my starter the night before right before I go to bed. It will be ready to use the next day for bread, pancakes, pizza crust… whatever!

How to revive dry sourdough starter by making a Levain

  • 30 grams starter
  • 130 grams warm water (mix together with a fork)
  • 120 grams all-purpose flour

Mix this together in a non-metal bowl. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit for 6-10 hours.

You should have around 1 cup of wet sourdough starter and it should be bubbly and alive the next morning and ready to bake whatever you need it for.

Any time I am wanting to make something with my starter, this is the recipe I use to get my starter awake and activated.

lump of bread dough on counter

Can I use this to make any sourdough item?

Yes, you can use this method to make anything containing sourdough. Each time you revive your dry starter with the Levain recipe above, you will get around 1 cup of wet sourdough starter.

If you want to make 2 loaves of bread, simply double the levain recipe above to get enough wet starter to make 2 loaves.

When I want to make pancakes, I typically use 1 cup of starter, so I make the levain the night before and make pancakes the next morning after the starter is bubbly.

folding bread dough on a counter

How do you make bread with a Dry Sourdough Starter?

If you are wanting to make a delicious crusty loaf of sourdough bread using your dry starter, follow this recipe. It gives a consistent loaf of sourdough every time.

  • Rehydrate your dry sourdough by making a Levain the night before

In the morning, you will add more flour and water to create your actual bread dough. To your levain (don’t forget to ‘tare’ your scale in between each addition), add:

  • 315 grams warm water
  • 600 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt

This will be a sticky dough, but try to limit the amount of extra flour you add to make it easy to handle. Use just what you need because adding too much can make it dry.

  1. Mix this all together in a bowl, I prefer to use my hands to do this. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. After 15 minutes, dump the dough onto a floured surface. Fold the dough on each side. You will take the top edge and fold it to the middle. Take the left side and fold it to the middle. Fold the bottom to the middle. Fold the right side to the middle.
  3. Cover with the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, repeat the folding process one more time.
  5. Cover with the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Flour the bowl once the 15 minutes is done. Put the dough into the bowl and let it do its final rise for 3-5 hours.
covered ball of dough

Will sourdough bread dough double in size?

No, sourdough bread dough doesn’t typically double in size like it would with a commercial yeast because this is a natural yeast and it isn’t as aggressive as a commercial yeast.

Look for your dough to be puffy and bounce back when you gently poke it.

sourdough dough on a counter

How do you bake a crusty Sourdough Bread loaf?

Although it isn’t necessary, it is best to have a dutch oven for baking crusty loaves. There is one main reason that this is helpful and it is a pretty important one.

You will bake your loaf at a very high temperature. Not having a lid on your dish will cause the outside layer to crust up very quickly. Having a crusty outer layer too quickly will prevent the inside from expanding and drying out.

The inside of your bread won’t be done since it will need to keep expanding so it can fully bake and not be super dense.

Baking sourdough bread in a dutch oven with a lid keeps the environment moist. It allows the outside of the bread to bake slower so that the inside can expand, emit its moisture, and fully bake.

Doing this will give you a lighter bread that isn’t as dense as it is if you were to bake it without a lid.

a loaf of sourdough

What is the best flour for sourdough starter?

You can use whatever flour you prefer. I use an unbleached, all-purpose flour. The most important thing is that you don’t use a bleached flour.

A bleached flour could cause some issues with the health of your starter, one being that it might not create a good starter for rising breads.

a sliced loaf of sourdough

Do you want to make your own starter?

If you don’t have a starter yet, it is very easy to make one. You only need flour, water, and a few days to get your starter established.

I shared my recipe for making a starter in THIS blog post. I also answered a ton of questions at the bottom of the post.

Other Sourdough Posts

Dry Sourdough Starter and Bread

Liz Quick
Using a dry sourdough starter requires much less attention and space. It is a great way to bake with sourdough. Below, you will find steps for how to make a dry starter, how to rehydrate it, and how to bake a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.
Prep Time 5 mins
Resting Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 5 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 dry starter
Calories 100 kcal

Equipment

  • Digital Kitchen Scale
  • Dutch oven with lid

Ingredients
  

Dry Sourdough Starter

  • 20 grams wet sourdough starter
  • 50 grams warm water
  • 100 grams all-purpose flour

Reviving Dry Starter | LEVAIN

  • 30 grams dry sourdough starter
  • 130 grams warm water
  • 120 grams all-purpose flour

Crusty Sourdough Bread loaf

  • 1 serving Levain as shared above
  • 315 grams warm water
  • 600 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions
 

Dry Sourdough Starter

  • Place a small container on a digital kitchen scale. Tare the scale.
  • Add 20 grams sourdough starter to the bowl. Tare the scale.
  • Add 50 grams warm water to the bowl. Mix the starter and water together with a fork. Tare the scale.
  • Add 100 grams unbleached flour to the bowl. Mix well. Leave on the counter for 6-10 hours so it can activate. Afterwards, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Levain | Rehydrating Dry Starter for use

  • 6-10 hours before you need it, place a medium bowl on a digital kitchen scale. Tare the scale.
  • Add 30 grams of dry sourdough starter to the bowl. Tare the scale.
  • Add 130 grams warm water to the starter. Mix well. Tare the scale.
  • Add 120 grams unbleached flour to the mixture and mix well.
  • Allow the levain to sit and activate for 6-10 hours.

Crusty Sourdough Bread Loaf

  • Make the Levain 6 hours before you want to bake bread. I do this the night before.
  • Place your levain on a digital kitchen scale and tare it.
  • Add 315 grams of warm water and mix well. Tare the scale.
  • To that, add 600 grams of all-purpose flour. Mix well.
  • Mix in 2 teaspoons salt.
  • Cover the dough for 15 minutes.
  • Dump the dough on a floured surface.
    Fold the dough on each side. You will take the top edge and fold it to the middle. Take the left side and fold it to the middle. Fold the bottom to the middle. Fold the right side to the middle.
  • Cover with the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, repeat the folding process one more time.
  • Cover with the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Flour the bowl once the 15 minutes is done.
    Put the dough into the bowl and let it do its final rise for 3-5 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F with the dutch oven inside the oven.
  • Once the oven has preheated, dump the dough Into the hot dutch oven. Put the lid on the dutch oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the lid. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Notes

Will sourdough bread dough double in size?

No, sourdough bread dough doesn’t typically double in size like it would with a commercial yeast because this is a natural yeast and it isn’t as aggressive as a commercial yeast.
Look for your dough to be puffy and bounce back when you gently poke it.

How do you bake a crusty Sourdough Bread loaf

Although it isn’t necessary, it is best to have a dutch oven for baking crusty loaves. There is one main reason that this is helpful and it is a pretty important one.
You will bake your loaf at a very high temperature. Not having a lid on your dish will cause the outside layer to crust up very quickly. Having a crusty outer layer too quickly will prevent the inside from expanding and drying out.
Keyword dry sourdough starter, sourdough crust bread

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2 Comments

  1. So just to clarify, when you need to make up more dry starter after initially making it, you use about 20 grams of the ‘dry starter’ to make more. Initially you would use the wet starter, but then you would just use the dry starter to make more of it…correct?

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