Easy Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread doesn't have to be intimidating. You can make beautiful hand crafted loaves to rival any upscale bakery at a fraction of the price.

I did it! I have successfully baked sourdough bread. Confession – I did cheat a bit. I was really nervous about cultivating my own starter, as I have heard a number of stories from friends who have had difficulty getting consistent results with their homegrown starters. When I bake bread, I need bread (I knead bread, too, but that’s another story ;-). The loaves or rolls or whatever I’m making are part of our meal plan, and if they don’t bake correctly, it’s a problem. I buy organic wheat berries and flours, and I can’t afford to be throwing out flopped loaves of bread. (I don’t think most of us can afford to throw away food, especially with rising food prices.) So, in the interest of successful sourdough right from the start, I ordered a sourdough starter.

It arrived in late January, and I fed it for the first time on Superbowl Sunday. I chose the Alaska starter – “Originating in the great state of Alaska, this is an easy to use classic sourdough starter culture. Alaskan starter requires shorter fermentation times and therefore can be ready to make baked goods quickly.” I figured Alaska was more similar in temperature to Wisconsin than some of the other cultures, and a quicker rise might come in handy. Sure enough, I very quickly I started getting bubbles.

I fed my starter for several days to make sure it was properly awake, and made pancakes out of the excess starter (the recipe is included with the starter and is also on the Cultures for Health website), which went over pretty well with the boys. By Thursday I was ready to tackle bread. I started out with just plain white flour bread flour for the first loaf, just to get a feeling for baking with sourdough versus commercial yeast. All of the CFH white flour starters can be converted to whole wheat if you prefer.

Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe

Adapted from Cultures for Health

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups Fresh Sourdough Starter
  • 3 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup Water (approximate)
  • Scant Tablespoon Salt

Directions

Mix sourdough starter, flour and salt together. Use enough water to make bread dough (a moist dough is preferable to a dry dough). Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test” (a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers thin enough to allow light to pass through without breaking). Shape the dough into a loaf . Place in a pan, proofing basket or on a board. Cover lightly with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 4-24 hours. If desired, a short (4-12 hours) proofing period can be used and the dough can be punched down, reshaped and allowed to rise a second time but a second proofing period is not required.

Slice an “X” or slashes in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade. Bake at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees (use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf). Bake 30-60 minutes (depending on loaf size). Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

I made up my dough in my Bosch mixer. (After killing three bread machines, I decided to invest in something sturdier.) It took over half an hour of kneading to get a nice “window pane” dough. For my first loaf, I did a single rise after mixing. I eyed up the volume of dough that this recipe produced and decided to shape it into a single loaf and allow it to rise on a cookie sheet. Instead of an “x” on top, I made two parallel slices. This is important, as it gives the bread room to expand in the oven. The loaf grew up HUGE! (You can see it took up most of a cookie sheet.) Inside, the texture was smooth and firm. The crust was appropriately chewy, but not tough, and it had a very mild sour flavor.

Sourdough bread doesn't have to be intimidating. You can make beautiful hand crafted loaves to rival any upscale bakery at a fraction of the price.

My youngest complained that it “tasted too much like store bread” (translation – all white flour is not normal for us). So the next time I fed my starter, I gave it half fresh ground hard white wheat berries and half bread flour. When I mixed the dough, I used the same ratios. This time I divided the dough in two parts and placed it in bread pans.

Sourdough bread doesn't have to be intimidating. You can make beautiful hand crafted loaves to rival any upscale bakery at a fraction of the price.

These loaves rose beautifully, too (and my youngest approved of the flavor). I made sourdough biscuits for supper tonight, and the boys approved of those, too.

This post on Cheeseslave about sourdough being acceptable for those who are gluten sensitive caught my interest. Sourdough is supposed to be better for diabetics, too.

Basic Sourdough Bread 2016-03-02 19:20:27 Easy 4 ingredient sourdough bread makes a big, beautiful rustic loaf.

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4002 calories
803 g
0 g
20 g
144 g
5 g
1887 g
11516 g
23 g
0 g
11 g

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size
1887g
Amount Per Serving

Calories 4002
Calories from Fat 176

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 20g
30%

Saturated Fat 5g
25%

Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 8g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g

Cholesterol 0mg
0%

Sodium 11516mg
480%

Total Carbohydrates 803g
268%

Dietary Fiber 32g
128%

Sugars 23g
Protein 144g

Vitamin A0%Vitamin C3%
Calcium46%Iron201%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Does this look wrong?

Ingredients

  1. 2 1/3 cups Fresh Sourdough Starter
  2. 3 1/3 cup Flour
  3. 1 – 1 ½ cup Water (approximate)
  4. Scant Tablespoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Mix sourdough starter, flour and salt together. Use enough water to make bread dough (a moist dough is preferable to a dry dough). Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test” (a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers thin enough to allow light to pass through without breaking).
  2. Shape the dough into a loaf . Place in a pan, proofing basket or on a board. Cover lightly with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 4-24 hours.
  3. If desired, a short (4-12 hours) proofing period can be used and the dough can be punched down, reshaped and allowed to rise a second time but a second proofing period is not required.
  4. Slice an “X” or slashes in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade. Bake at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees (use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf).
  5. Bake 30-60 minutes (depending on loaf size). Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

Adapted from Cultures for Health
beta

calories
4002

fat
20g

protein
144g

carbs
803g

more

Adapted from Cultures for Health
Common Sense Homesteading http://commonsensehome.com/
Update: I first started experimenting with sourdough back in 2011, and used it regularly for about a year. Around that time I started baking more with gluten free flours, so I dehydrated my starter and stashed it in the freezer. Recently, I dug it out and nursed it back to life – or caught wild yeast – I can’t be sure which. Either way, I’m still able to bake lovely sourdough loaves such as the one shown below. You can also make sourdough cookies, cheesy garlic sourdough crackers and sourdough brownies.

Sourdough bread doesn't have to be intimidating. You can make beautiful hand crafted loaves to rival any upscale bakery at a fraction of the price.

Don’t forget to check out Never Buy Bread Again – 14 Homemade Bread Recipes for a monster list of bread recipes, including gluten free options.

Update: Since these first loaves, I’ve ordered Wardeh’s sourdough e-book and started experimenting with other recipes. Sourdough crackers are what we make the most, using her recipe base. You can download a free chapter using the link below. (Yes, I liked what she does so much I signed up as an affiliate. Wardeh is the Queen of Sourdough and Fermented Foods, at least in my book. :-))

How to Capture Your Own Sourdough Starter

To capture your own sourdough starter, start with whole grain wheat or rye flour and pure, unchlorinated water. Place about 4 ounces of flour (scant 1 cup) and 4 ounces (1/2 cup) warm water in a non-reactive vessel. Mix well.

You can use a wide mouth Mason jar, other glass, steel, crockery or food grade plastic. Your container should be around 4 cups in volume, as the starter will expand as it becomes active.

Cover the container with a coffee filter or flour sack towel secured to keep larger critters out. Place in a warm location such as near a stove or on top of the fridge. You can even use a heating pad if you like – just make sure it’s not too hot by placing a folded towel between the heat source and the starter.

Let sit 24 hours.

On day two, discard half of the starter mix. This can go into the compost. Add the same amount of flour (you make use white flour if you like) and water that you used on day one. Mix well, cover, and less rest another 24 hours.

By day three, you should be starting to see bubbles. Discard half the starter (or use it to make brownies, cookies, pancakes other baked goods that don’t require a very active starter. To get your starter into high gear for bread baking, you should start feeding it twice a day, roughly 12 hours apart. After about a week of feeding, your starter should bubble very actively and have a slightly sour aroma. The starter should roughly double in volume each time it is fed.

When the starter is ready, feed the starter and let it rest at room temperature for 6-8 hours before using in your recipe.

To store your starter, place it in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator. Note: it is best not to refrigerate your starter until it is at least a month old, because it will strengthen over time. The starter should be fed right before storage, and should be fed at least weekly to keep it healthy. If you do a fair amount of baking/cooking with sourdough, keeping it out at room temp with regular feedings (once a day for maintenance, twice a day when you need an active starter).

Originally posted in February 2011, updated March 2016.

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