Homemade Sourdough Bread

by Daisy

When I run out of an ingredient or a supply my first thought isn’t necessarily, “Gotta hop in the car and go to the store.” It’s, “Can I make this myself out of stuff lying around the house?” Although I consider myself environmentally conscious, it isn’t a particularly eco-minded or righteous impulse. I just hate having to go to the store when I am in project mode.

Recently I ran out of yeast. And it wasn’t the first time. I’d rather not be dependent on those pricey little hard-to-open packets anyway. Flour is expensive enough. Time to go sourdough. Again.

Several years ago someone brought THE BEST bread to a family reunion. I don’t even know who it was, some third or fourth cousin or another, but bless him. He shared the recipe and at least one other relative and I made it for years. The bread has the best, soft moist texture and flavor–soft enough for sandwiches and perfect for toast, too. I got out of the habit for some reason, but it is time to liberate myself from the yeast packet and RESURRECT THE STARTER:


To start: Double the feed ingredients and let sit at room temperature several days until bubbly and smells fermented. Stir occasionally.

Feed ingredients (remember to double them for the first time!):

2/3 cup sugar

3 T. potato flakes

1 1/3 cup water

Stir feed into original container of starter. Leave both containers of starter out all day. Stir original and replace in refrigerator for 3-5 days before feeding. (If not baking throw away or give to a friend 1 cup before feeding). Can feed a couple of times without removing any if trying to build a starter. In a large bowl make a stiff batter of 1 1/3 cup starter which has set out all day, plus:

1/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

1 tsp. salt

1 2/3 cup warm water

7 c. bread flour or 5 c. bread flour plus 2 c. whole wheat flour

Oil a large bowl, add dough and oil top, cover lightly and let stand overnight. Do not refrigerate.

Next a.m., punch dough down. Divide into 3 parts. Knead briefly. Put into 3 greased loaf pans. Oil tops. Cover with greased waxed paper. Let rise most of the day, depending on temperature. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove immediately from pans, butter tops, cool on wire rack.

I have used 100% whole wheat, 1/2 whole wheat, and other variations with success. For cinnamon raisin bread, just before the final rising, flatten out one portion of dough into a rectangle about twice the size of the bottom of your loaf pan and top with about 1/4 cup raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon or cinnamon sugar. Roll up into loaf form, put in the pan and let rise and bake as above.

I have never tried to make the starter with whole wheat flour, but I am sure it can be done.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brianna April 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Whole-wheat flour is actually preferable as all your little yeasty will already be in the flour due to the minimal processing. If you’re using AP bleached flour, potato flakes, and the like you have to catch your bacteria from the air. Which still isn’t hard but it takes longer.

Melissa November 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I have a really good sour dough recipe that I use to make french bread if you want it I can e-mail it to you.

Tomato Lady November 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Melissa–Sure! Send it to me! Thanks.

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