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  1. For the first feeding: Mix the liquid starter and flour together in a bowl until the dough becomes a shaggy mass. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and firm and there are no dry spots. You may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of flour if the dough feels very sticky.

  2. Place the starter in an oiled container with the lid on and allow it to ferment at room temperature for approximately 8 hours.

  3. For the second feeding: Tear the stiff starter into pieces, and place 1/4 cup (57g) of it in a bowl. Add the water and flour. Mix and then knead to make a firm, smooth dough, with no dry pockets of flour. This should only take a few minutes.

  4. Place the starter in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic.

  5. Allow the starter to ferment for approximately 8 hours, or until it's doubled in size and domed, with the center just beginning to recede. This mature or "fed" stiff starter is now ready to use in your recipe.

  6. If you plan to maintain your stiff starter but aren't going to bake with it immediately, let it ferment at room temperature for 2 hours (instead of the 8 hours mentioned in step #5), then refrigerate.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to turn your stiff starter back into a liquid starter? Rip the stiff starter into small pieces and mix it with lukewarm water. The ratio is 3 parts starter to 1 part water, by either weight or volume: e.g., 3/4 cup (6 ounces) stiff starter added to 1/4 cup (2 ounces) water. The easiest way to mix the stiff starter and water is at low speed in a stand mixer, using the beater attachment.
  • If after 8 hours you find the starter has fermented too quickly and collapsed, it will still work. If this happens consistently, use cooler water and add a pinch of salt. Alternatively, mix the starter earlier in the day and refrigerate it immediately, removing it from the refrigerator right before you go to bed, then using it in your bread recipe the next day.