Mar 6, 2011

Baking Bread With Sourdough Starter

A couple of weeks ago, I found this listed on my local Craigslist.....


100 Year Old Starter!! Right up my breadmaking alley!!

So I replied and, lucky me, I was gifted by Cathy with my first sourdough starter!! She also shared some recipes and directions for "feeding" the starter so I could make enough to use and share with others. I got busy right away! Within the week, I had enough starter I could make my first loaf. You need about a cup and a half of starter. The cup goes into your recipe and the 1/2 cup gets fed more water and flour to continue its growth.... but I will share THAT with you later in this post.... Onto the recipe....

The night before you plan on making the bread, you want to take the starter out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature overnight. Here's my mason jar full. I hear some people name their starter.... hmmm, Clementine maybe? After all, it is the way most miner's were able to have bread during the 1849 gold rush in California. I'm sure you've heard of San Francisco Sourdough??

Ready To Be Used

After sitting out all night the wild yeast in the starter is happy, HAPPY! How can I tell? Well, take a look at all those little bubbles there on the top. It's ready to start making some bread.

Sourdough Starter ready to be used

The recipe I chose was found on HERE on YouTube and consists of the following ingredients.
1 c. sourdough starter
1 c. water
2 tsp. salt
3 c. flour (I used bread flour)

That's it, easy so far isn't it?

A simple recipe

I mixed the wet ingredients together first until combined then added the flour and salt.

Mixing in the flour and salt

Less than a minute later I had this soft, rather "wet" texture of dough. But that's how it's supposed to look so onto the "rising". The rising for sourdough takes 12 hours. That seems like a long time but if you are a working person, it gives you a chance to put the ingredients together and pop it into a warm place for the day and then come home and bake it up.

Dough before rising

And here is after 12 hours. It has doubled in size!

Dough after a 12 hr. rise

The next step is the baking process. I use a dutch oven to bake mine in. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Put the dutch oven and its lid, separately, into the oven to preheat as well. I added a little non-stick to my dutch oven.

While you are heating things up, take your dough gently out of the bowl for minimal shaping. As the dough is in front of you, fold the left side into the center, then the right side into the center. Turn the dough 1/2 turn and do the same again. You will end up with a small shaped loaf.

The Lodge Pan I Cook My Bread In

Open the oven and place the shaped loaf into the dutch oven and quickly put on the lid (using hot pads of course.... THIS IS A HOT OVEN!!)

Bake with the lid on for 20 min. Then with the lid off for another 15 to 20 min. Mine was getting a bit dark so I decreased the temperature to 425 and stuck with the 15 minutes.

Can't you just SMELL it???!!! Yummo!

Sourdough Loaf

I'm going to have to calibrate my oven before the next time I bake this because it was good but really too dark for my liking. You could really taste the sourdough, the crust was nice and crunchy and the crumb was moist and so VERY tasty!

The finished loaf - just a bit dark

It's hard to believe the dough was this light with absolutely no other yeast but the wild yeasts of the starter.

I will definitely be baking this about once a week if not more often and I can't wait to try some pancakes or pizza dough with it too. My kids are all begging me to give them just a bit of starter so they can make their own bread.

Nice and airy

So speaking of managing starter....this is what I had leftover from baking. From this point I added 1 c. of warm water and 3/4 c. of bread flour and stirred it all in. I like to add about a Tbsp. of mashed potato flakes too.

Ready to Feed

I cleaned out my jar and added back in the starter. I'd like to say that you do have to be rather careful with what you save your starter in. It really doesn't like metal at all. So I stick with a glass jar. Crocks do well too. And you should use a wooden spoon to stir not metal. Cover the jar with a piece of Saran Wrap and screw on the metal lid. Then poke a few small holes in the saran wrap with a toothpick to allow the starter to "breathe". My starter sits out after this "feeding" for about 4 hours before I put it back into the refrigerator. It's also OK if you see the starter separating with a liquid on the top and the white on the bottom. All you need to do is stir gently to reincorporate everything. If you are trying to make enough to share, simply feed your starter every couple of days with about 1/2 c. water and 1/4 c. flour stirring and allowing the jar to sit out for a few hours. Before you know it, you will have enough to share too!

You can find more information on how to make your own sourdough starters, the history of sourdough and some great bread, roll, pancake and waffle recipes HERE.

A nice clean jar and some added water and flour

See how happy the starter is after getting it's new feeding? Look at all those happiness bubbles!

Happy after being "fed"


I hope you give this a try. It's really easy, very tasty and digestible and can also be made in a bread machine.

And Thank You SOOOOO much again Cathy for allowing me to share your "wild yeast". I've had so much fun and can't WAIT to make some pizza dough with it!

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