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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sourdough Bread!

UPDATE:  Since this post, I've used my starter, and this sourdough recipe to get the sourdough of my dreams.  The pictures are a lot to get through, but the recipe is easy, and turns out a delicious, chewy, and more sour loaf.  I highly recommend it if you're looking for more authentic sourdough.  The recipe below does make a delicious sandwich loaf.

I love sourdough bread.  Honestly.  Ever since I was about 10, and went to Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California and had the clam chowder in the sourdough bread bowl, it's been over.  Sourdough=my favorite.

I've always wanted to make it, and I knew that there was a starter involved, but I thought you had to get it from somewhere.  As though there were some ancient sourdough start from the first days of sourdough that was passed down from generation to generation.  So I resigned myself to never having my own sourdough because I was not privileged to be born into a Sourdough Starter Dynasty.

But...yeah, that's wrong.  You can totally make your own starter.  I was browsing through my Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook, and there it was--a sourdough recipe, and a recipe for a starter!  So, in case you want to make your own sourdough dreams come true, here's the recipe.  Be warned, it takes about a week and a half--a week for the starter to be ready, and a full 12.5 hours on the day that you'll be making it.  You'll only be actively doing anything for about an hour or so--but don't start it in the afternoon thinking you'll be eating it for dinner.

Unless you eat really late.

Sourdough Starter
1 teaspoon regular active dry yeast (I actually used instant yeast, because that's what I had--it worked.)
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour

1.  In a 3 qt glass bowl dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in milk, gradually stir in flour and beat until smooth.  cover with a towel or cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for about 24 hours or until starter begins to ferment (it gets bubbly).  If you don't get any bubbles within 24 hours, throw it out and try again.  If you do (yay!), then stir it well, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it in the same spot for 2-3 days.
2.  When the starter is really foamy, stir it well, pour into a 1 qt crock or glass jar with a tight fitting cover, and put it in the fridge.  Starter is ready to use when a clear liquid has risen to the top (this took another 2-3 days for me).
3.  Use the starter regularly--every week or so.  If the volume of the breads starts to decrease, dissolve 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1/2 cup milk, and 3/4 cup flour into the remaining starter.

Once your starter has reached this point, you're finally ready to make the bread!

Sourdough Bread
1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups warm water
3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1.  in a 3 qt glass bowl, mix the sourdough starter, 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, and 2 cups warm water with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Cover, and let stand in a warm place for 8 hours.  To keep your starter going, add 3/4 cup milk, and 3/4 cup flour to the remaining starter in the container, stir until smooth, and let sit for 12 hours before putting back in the fridge.

Add Flour and Water
Let Stand for 8 hours (this is after about 5)

2.  Add 3 3/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.  Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is absorbed.  The dough will still be pretty soft--it should be just firm enough to form into a ball and put on the counter to start kneading.  Don't add in the extra 1/2 cup of flour unless the dough can't be formed into a ball at all.
3.  On a heavily floured surface (seriously, like, one-whole-cup-of-flour, heavily floured, plus more possibly), knead the dough for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and springy.
You know...in case you don't know how to knead?
 Place dough into a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover, and let rise for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.

4.  Grease a large cookie sheet.  Gently push the risen dough down a few times to release the air bubbles.  Split the dough in half, and form each half into a circular loaf.  Place the loaves on opposite ends of the cookie sheet, with plenty of room around the edges to allow it to rise.  Cut three slits in the top of each loaf and then cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
Unrisen dough
 5.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the loaves with cold water, and place in the middle of the oven.  Cook for 35-45 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Then, let cool for 1 hour.

Actually, I don't blame you if you don't want to wait, but it's really better if you do.  After a week and a half of work, I dove right in...and I was really disappointed.  I tried another piece about an hour later, and it was much better.  So...wait, just a bit at least.  Then it will be sourdough.  Delicious (though maybe not quite there) sourdough.

There are several things I might do differently the next time I make it--I followed all the steps almost exactly (instant yeast instead of regular, and I used cooking spray instead of shortening).  I bet you could use a machine to do the kneading, instead of doing it by hand, and I hear that your starter's flavor changes a little bit each time.  I'll definitely be doing this again, if only to make the week for the starter worthwhile.


  1. It looks like a loaf I would buy from the store! Delicious!

  2. oooo I love sourdough and have been wanting to try to make some!