I am in the process of making my first starter for sourdough bread. I am not sure how it will turn out in a sourdough loaf, but the kitchen smells like apples and booze right now, so I think it is probably working.
I am using the foolproof method, which uses a bit of commercial yeast and is considered cheating by purists, but I like easy, no-knead types of bread so obviously I am willing to cut corners in order to avoid a failed experiment that wastes my flour.
Mix by hand 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 1/8 tsp. of instant yeast, and about 1/3 cup of filtered (non-chlorinated water – you want yeast to grow in your starter!). If you don’t mind truly experimenting, you can omit the yeast and hope there’s enough in the air that wants to live in your dough.
Cover with a tea towel at room temperature overnight. For the next 3 days, feed the starter with 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup water daily. After each feeding it should have the consistency of gravy.
After the first 3 or 4 days of feeding, pour out 1/3 of the starter and continue feeding for another 4-5 days. After about 10 days total the starter should be ready to use in a sourdough recipe.