Thursday, December 11, 2014

Classic Sourdough Bread

I really love sourdough and have had my share of sourdough starters over the years. I like to watch the starter as it develops over the course of a few days; watching it get all bubbly, swell and expand as it "does its thing." 

Sourdough Starter

One thing you have to have is TIME and PATIENCE. Sourdough takes awhile to make, but the results are so worth the time you invest.

There are many, many starter recipes out there, and for the most part they are all very similar. I chose one this time around that does use packaged yeast, which was simply a way to make it a bit easier.

It developed very quickly and the results were great. (starter recipe from

Sourdough Starter 
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 cups flour

Mix ingredients in a large non-metal bowl. Pour blended ingredients into a LARGE jar or bowl with a loose fitting lid and let stand at room temperature for 36 to 48 hours. The starter will swell and bubble as it "grows" so be sure to use a large enough container as it may double or triple in size as it "grows."  (I let mine stand for 48 hours)

Afterward, starter can be stored in refrigerator until needed.

When you need the starter, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before you use it. Stir starter before using it so that ingredients are blended together.

Every time you use some of the starter, you must replenish it. For example, if you use 2 cups starter, you must mix in 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water. Then let it stand at room temperature for a few hours until it bubbles. It then can be stored in the refrigerator until it is needed again.

Sourdough Bread after 1st rise

A Few Hints about Sourdough Starter
If it separates with water forming on top and dough on bottom, stir well to make a smooth batter again.

Never use your entire starter. Leave 1 cup starter to make a new batch.

Cover sourdough container loosely, when out of refrigerator. Inside of refrigerator, you can add a lid because it is dormant in cold temperatures.

Sourdough can be kept in the refrigerator when not needed, but it takes at least a few hours at room temperature to start working again.

Sourdough reacts best at room temperature.

If your sourdough starter turns pink or red, shows signs of mold growth or smells putrid, throw it out and make a fresh batch of sourdough starter.

Make sure to share with friends so they can start their own sourdough baking.

Sourdough Bread after 2nd rise

Classic Sourdough Bread
1 cup ( 8 ounces) sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) lukewarm water
5 to 6 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
cornmeal to sprinkle on pans

Pour the cup of starter into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and about 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously. Cover this sponge with plastic wrap and put it aside to work. This period can be very flexible, but allow at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. A longer period (at a lower temperature) will result in a more sour flavor.

Loaf shaped

After the dough has bubbled and expanded, remove the plastic wrap. Blend in the salt, sugar, and remaining 2 cups of flour. Mix until the dough comes together, then knead, using your hands, an electric mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into an oval loaf, and place on a lightly greased, cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. * see option below for Onion Rolls or Mini-Loaves.

All baked

Cover, and let rise until doubled (this can take up to 2 hours). 

Place a pan full of hot water on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 450°F. Remove the cover, slash the tops, and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on rack.

* Option - Add 1/4 cup dried minced onion to the dough.  Shape into 2 mini-loaves and 9 small onion rolls. After rising, brush tops with an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tbls. cold water whisked). Sprinkle tops with more dried minced onion and bake as per the above directions.

Yield: 2 mini-loaves and 9 rolls - OR - 4 mini-loaves - OR - 18-20 rolls

Onion Rolls


As the sourdough develops the bread becomes more full of nooks and crannies

Cooks note - the longer you have the sourdough starter, the more developed the flavor becomes. The bread becomes more full of nooks and crannies making for an extremely tasty finished product. You many need to add additional yeast over time to reactivate. I only add 1/2 tsp yeast if this becomes necessary.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour


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