A traditional method of leavening bread dough requiring only a flour, water, and yeast mixture, which is allowed to ferment for varying periods depending on the type of bread being prepared. A starter may contain additional ingredients, such as milk, sugar, or honey, which speed the fermentation process. Some starters do not contain commercial yeast, but only flour and water and rely on airborne yeast for fermentation. This type of starter is perhaps the oldest method for preparing leavened breads.

The primary difference between making bread with a starter and making bread with the direct or straight yeast method (the method familiar to most home cooks) is that starter breads require much more time to prepare, but the flavor and texture of the bread is almost impossible to achieve with other leavening methods. The initial fermentation of the starter and the subsequent rising time of the dough contribute to the lengthier process. Some starters may be ready in a few hours, while sourdough starters may require several days of fermentation before the bread can actually be prepared.

USDA Nutrition Facts


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