22 March 2011

Sourdough Bread

I've heard and read lots of different things about homemade sourdough, my favorite bread of all times.  And until now, I've never experimented with it.  Mainly, because I'm pretty lazy and from what I've read, sourdough is a commitment.  And, it is - at least, at first.

The starter and the pan loaf.  And yes, I know our oven is filthy...
You can buy starters off the internet or from your local grocery store (if they sell them), or you can get one from a friend, or start your own.  I started making my own starter last week.  I used a fairly simple recipe from The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City.  I rarely purchase books these days, but Willis and I purchased this while we were on vacation in California last year.  The authors contribute to Root Simple, a blog about simple living.  If you wish to support and purchase books about self-reliance, then I'd recommend it, but honestly, most of the concepts can be found on the internet or in many books from the library. 

The starter is basically flour and water in a jar.  Everyday, you have to pour some out and add some more back in.  This is the commitment part.  It's also not as "neat" of a process as I'd like, but I'm sure I'll figure out a way to do things better as I go along.  I've been composting the part that I pour out, which makes our countertop compost tub a little messier than normal.  The book says to "feed" the starter every day for two weeks before you can put it in the fridge and only feed it once a week (or as you use it).  But at week one, you can experiment with the part that you pour out.  So I did.

I used a combination of the recipe from the book and this recipe.  Mainly because the book's recipe called for wheat bran and a "proofing basket," neither of which I had.

It was a 2 day process with the risings, but the steps in between were fairly simple.  I put some of the dough in a bread pan, because I like to make grilled cheeses and used the left over bread on the baking stone.  So far, I've cut into the blob from the baking stone, and it's not that bad!!

I plan to put the pan loaf in the freezer until we finish the blob and the other bread we purchased from the store last week.


  1. Looks so good ! Can you use a bread machine to make it ?

  2. My bread machine cookbook has a Sourdough French Bread Recipe with it's own starter recipe! So, yes!

    I wanted to bake a pan loaf to see how it cuts. I've only made bread in the bread machine before, but it's never ideal for toast or sandwiches...it's always a little too fluffy to cut thin enough slices.

  3. i never heard of keeping your sourdough in the fridge...surely that would effect the bacterial growth (same with freezing it). some bakers have sourdoughs that are decades old which is pretty cool!

  4. weird, everything i reads says that when you put it in the fridge, you slow things down so you don't have to feed it as often.

    apparently our uncle (granddad's brother's son) had a starter that was really old.

  5. interesting :) looks delicious !

  6. never know that family story! it would have been cool if someone had kept it alive!

    apparently if you keep it in the fridge the yeast will be dormant but the bacteria wont and you'll get a starter that smells boozy and is a bit sharp. if you do keep it in the fridge you should leave it out for a few hrs everytime you feed it so the yeasts can activate again

    just found this....this guy was from somewhere in oregon and looked after a 150yr old starter. its still alive and you can buy some of it and keep it going yourself! that is awesome!


  7. just looked through that site and apparently the starter is free. you just have to pay postage

  8. crazy! they send it to you in an envelope?

  9. i guess so. you can dry starter cos it just deactivates the yeast but doesn't kill it. i think its pretty cool that you can bake bread that started out 150 years ago!!