Many months ago I started a whole wheat sourdough starter. I was inspired to start a healthy starter after experiencing the Amish Cinnamon Bread starter! There were so many things I didn't like about that starter, from having to mush it and store it in zip lock bags (thinking the plastic of the bag was seeping into the dough), to using white flour and lots of sugar, then in the final recipe, using a large box of instant pudding! Also after adding to it, you were told to measure out and give away three bags to friends! This was clearly not the recipe for me! Besides being a very sweet and a (not too healthy) dessert bread, you also had to have lots and lots of friends! So, well...I'm not very social and I'm trying to cut down on my sugar consumption.
I found a very helpful page on line, called Sourdough Baking by John Ross. If you're interested, click on the link--he has all the directions and even a basic recipe for the bread. I've been making a loaf every week for about six months. I've kept the starter a whole wheat starter, but I sometimes mix a cup of unbleached flour into the final bread recipe.
This jar of starter is ready to be used--it does have a liquid layer of what is called hooch, at the top--this is to be expected and you just stir it in.
After adding one cup of warm water and one cup of ww flour, you set aside in a warm spot to create the sponge. The mixture looks frothy and foamy.
Part of the sponge is used for the bread recipe, the other is mixed with more warm water and ww flour, poured in the washed jar-- the lid is lightly screwed on to let out air. This starter keeps in the refrig for about a week, then you can either use it or get rid of half of it and add more water and flour.
I've been trying different things. I sometimes add a mashed banana and cooked oatmeal--you don't taste the banana or the oatmeal, but it makes for a moist bread.
For me, it takes about 90 min for the sponge to...sponge, and then another 90 min for the kneaded dough to rise. After forming the loaf, another 60 min to rise, then bake at 350--do not preheat, and cook for about 1/2 hour. It's takes a good part of the day to make!
This is a good braiding lesson! We sometimes roll out the dough, then spread on (honey, cinnamon and apples), or (artichoke hearts, pesto and olives)--both are very good!