Sourdough From Scratch :: baking bread

Find the full “Sourdough From Scratch” series here and make your very own sourdough yeast starter!

This is the old-fashioned way to make bread. It can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours in which most of that time is spent letting the dough rise. Old-fashioned baking is by no means quick, but it is easy. Sourdough bread is fermented so all of the difficult-to-digest phytates from the grain are broken down making this bread wonderful for your digestion.

Here is what my starter looked like this morning on day eight:

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Sourdough From Scratch Using Your Sourdough Starter
makes 2 loaves

Here is what you will need to make your bread:
3 cups of your sourdough starter
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 cups cold water
4-8 cups flour (whole wheat, rye, or spelt are even better options)

Pour 3 cups of your starter into a large clean glass mixing bowl (remember that sourdough will react with metal and plastic so stick to glass or ceramic bowls). Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of cold water and stir with a wooden spoon until the salt it disolved.

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Slowly stir in your choice of flour, two cups at a time. For this batch, I only used about 4 cups. The more liquidy your starter is, the more sour your bread will taste.

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Now, work in the flour on a clean surface until your dough is knead-able. Knead your dough for 8-10 minutes. It’s going to suck, but try your best to go the full time. Your arms will thank you later… after the ache subsides.

my YouTube video on how to knead bread dough

Place your well kneaded dough back into your bowl and cover with a clean cloth. The natural yeast in your sourdough will go to work to make the dough rise and release the nutrients! Now let your dough rise until it has doubled. It is less to think about if you let it rise overnight.

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In the morning knead your dough for another 5 minutes or so (a little less is okay of your arms still hurt from the last kneading session). Divide your dough into two sections and shape your dough into balls. Place your dough balls into glass or ceramic pans. Within about two hours, the natural yeast in it has been activated so that the bread rising in the pans will be ready to go into the oven.
Bake your bread in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until the bread sounds hollow when you thump it.

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Next time you want to make a batch of sourdough bread, get your starter out of the refrigerator in the evening and pour it into a clean glass jar or bowl. Feed it by adding one cup of flour and one cup of cold water. You will need to keep your starter fed about once a week whether you bake bread that often or not. Place cheesecloth on top and let it sit in a warm place all night.
In the morning, if there are bubbles in the sourdough, indicating that the yeast has been activated, begin the above process of making a batch of bread being sure to leave a few cups of starter in the jar for future use! If you aren’t ready to bake bread, stick it back in the refrigerator.

18 thoughts on “Sourdough From Scratch :: baking bread

  1. Thanks Sarah! Oh my gosh, I cannot wait to try baking some fresh sourdough! Hurry up already yeast! I’m going to put it in the bedroom tomorrow (warmest room in the house) and open the window, we’ll see if that helps.

  2. My wife has Crohns and lately it’s been bad…never thought to try sourdough bread. I’ll have to give it a try 🙂

    • This whole tutorial is an 8 day step-by-step on making your own sourdough starter from nothing but flour and water. Just start at the beginning or look for “Sourdough Starter: day one” under the “D.I.Y. Projects” button above. Good luck and let me know how yours turns out!

    • Hi Missy! How long has it been going? Mine took at least seven days just to get started. It still wasn’t as strong starting out as it is now. The longer you let it go, the better it will be. Also, if it is cold in your house it will take a little longer to activate. As long as there is no mold… you’re all good.
      Some tips I have for you:
      * Make sure you feed 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water DAILY!
      * The natural yeast feeds on gluten so make sure you are using a flour that contains gluten. Sourdough seems to work best using white flour. I regularly use unbleached white flour, but have tried whole wheat before and it liked the white much more.
      * If you want to use whole wheat, maybe try feeding the starter unbleached white flour and then use the whole wheat in the bread recipe itself. Kind of like 1/2 and 1/2.
      * Your starter needs fresh air! Especially if your house has an air filter of some sort. If it’s too cold to crack a window, set in on a shady porch or deck for a couple hours a day (where bugs won’t get to it) so that the yeast in the air can get to it.

    • I have! Actually I have baked quite a few loaves of sourdough in the cob oven. They turned out pretty well to. The tops get much more brown in the cob oven than a modern household oven, but it doesn’t burn. The trick is to make sure that the loaves have risen completely before baking. Using one of those oven thermometers doesn’t hurt either.

      I’ll post pictures when we use it next. (It’s raining now.)

    • Hopefully you still have some starter left, but what you want to do is feed your remaining starter for at least one full day before using it again. The idea is to have a perpetual sourdough starter and to always replace what you have used (one cup of flour and water at a time) before using it again. That may take one day, it may take three days. Just never use all of the starter and you will be a-ok.

  3. I think my sourdough starter is finally at the point to be used for baking (yay!!!). Mine started to become frothy on top around day 10 (which I believe is due to the temperature still being a bit cold in the kitchen and I also used whole wheat flour). Haven’t baked with it yet but I plan on doing so this weekend. A question on the storage of the starter in the fridge, do you cover the jar at all (with a fitting lid or cheesecloth?) or do you keep the jar uncovered? I’d like to store it covered if possible.

    • I have a couple recipes that I use for sourdough. Sometimes I lose one recipe for awhile and then come back to it when I find it tucked in some unused cook book. 🙂 I have found that both work well, but have slightly different textures. Then again, it all depends on your starter.

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