FatFree Home
FatFree Recipe Archive
More breads-yeast recipes from FatFree

sourdough-bread-2 recipe

Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 20:36:28 -0800
 From: Barb Beck (barb@rr.ualberta.ca)
 Recipes and Beginners Guide to Sourdough Bread
 Sourdough starter was used to make bread centuries before the advent
 of packaged yeast. The starter is a mixture of yeast and lactobacilli
 which live together, each protecting the other and keeping other
 invading organisms out of their "home".  My family much prefers the
 flavor of bread made with a sourdough starter to that made with
 commercial yeast.  Some add commercial yeast to their sourdough bread,
 I find the flavor is not nearly as good as when only the sourdough
 culture is used.  It is easy to get the hang of working with the
 culture.  Once you do, you will see no need to add yeast. Making this
 bread is really simple.  I spend about 2 minutes the night before
 baking setting up the sponge and about 10 minutes the next day with my
 Kitchenaid mixer to get 4 loves ready for baking.
 Here are some simple instructions to help you get started making
 sourdough bread.
 To make sourdough bread you need four things:
 1. A good starter
 2. A good way to knead the bread
 3. A simple way to start
 4. A little practice and patience
 1.  A good starter:
 I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good starter.  You can
 gather one from the air (I admit that is fun) but the chances of
 getting a stable starter (one which is not easily invaded by foreign
 critters) and one which rises the bread well and has a fantastic
 flavor are slim.  Even when all bread was baked with sourdough
 starters people protected and shared good ones.  If you are a beginner
 get yourself a good starter. When you gain confidence making sourdough
 bread try and collect one yourself if you wish.
 There are good commercial sourdough starters out there and Carl
 Griffith has a very good one his family brought across the US on the
 Oregon Trail in 1847 which he gives away.  I have had excellent luck
 with the commercial starters available from Sourdough
 International. My experience with the Goldrush starter has not been
 good. (See "Review of Sourdough Starters" ) Each starter I have used
 has its own personality and produces bread with its own unique
 flavor. (I currently have 9 starters)
 The sourdough starters I would recommend to a beginner are the Russian
 and Bahrainian from Sourdough International and Carl Griffith's.  The
 Russian is a particularly easy one to start with because it is so very
 fast and has a marvelous flavor.  The Bahranian from Sourdough
 International makes the sourest bread. These starters can be obtained
 from :
 Sourdough International: Phone (800)888-9567, FAX 208 382 3129 or
 write to P.O. Box 670, Cascade, Idaho 83611.  They are $10.50 Each
 including shipping and well worth every penny. Delivery is prompt.
 Carl Griffith: Carl makes his fabulous family heirloom available for
 the price of a self addressed stamped envelope. Send a SASE ( a
 business size envelope) to Carl Griffith, 322 Ravens Ridge Road,
 Sequim, WA 98382. Delivery is prompt. Carl offers to make his starter
 available to the readers of rec.food.sourdough and has given me
 permission to publish his offer in this list.
 I feed my starters only bottled water (I drink the city water myself)
 and unbleached white flour.  I keep a jar of the culture in the
 refrigerator for backup and to use when I want to make a mildly sour
 bread or a whole grain bread. I keep the starter I usually use in a
 closed plastic container at room temperature. It gets fed 1/2 to 1 cup
 of water a day and about the same amount of flour. The day before
 baking I give it two feedings.  If I want to use a refrigerated
 culture, the day before baking I remove it from the refrigerator and
 feed it.  Every month or so I get the refrigerated cultures out, warm
 them up and give them a good feeding and a clean container if they
 have not been used.  Remember when using the refrigerated culture to
 store a cup of it back in the refrigerator with a good feeding before
 proceeding with your recipe (You do not want to cook all your
 2.  Kneading the bread
   If you have the time, energy and inclination to knead the bread by
 hand by all means do so.  I am too lazy for that.  I use the biggest
 Kitchen Aid Mixer and love it.  Others have very good luck with the
 Braun Kitchen Machine which I have not been fortunate enough to use.
 Some use bread machines to knead the dough (then bake it in the oven),
 and from the discussions recently some use a Cuisinart food processor
 but there appear to be problems with the dough blade.  I very rarely
 made bread until I got my Kitchenaid. Now I make all our bread. If you
 are going to make lots of bread it is important that you have a means
 of kneading the dough which fits your lifestyle. Some use a
 breadmachine for making the sourdough but it seems that it is
 difficult to get all of the timings worked out right. Ed Wood (who
 wrote the book about making sourdough with a bread machine with Donna
 German) even says that being successful with a bread machine is more
 challenging than doing it the old fashion way
 3. A Simple way to start:
 a. A Simple White Bread
 There are as many ways to make sourdough bread as there are bread
 recipes.  The sourdough FAQ has jillions.
 Here is one I use to get you started.  I like to prepare the sponge
 the night before because it gives the bread more flavor.
 The night before you wish to bake make a sponge of 2 cups of active
 starter, 2 cups water and 2 cups flour (for 2 loaves). Do not worry if
 it is lumpy.
 The next morning add 1 tablespoon of salt and enough flour to make the
 dough. (The dough will be a little stickier than that from regular
 yeast bread.  Do not add too much flour or your bread will be dry. If
 you are making very sour bread the dough will not be as elastic as
 regular bread dough.
 Form immediately into loaves. I would suggest that you start using
 bread pans and not try to form free loaves right away. The idea is to
 keep it simple at the start.  When I use pans I use nonstick pans
 which need no grease.
 Let the bread rise until is has doubled or tripled in volume in a warm
 place ( try to find someplace between 85 - 95 degrees F if you can).
 Some people use a microwave with jars of hot water to proof, some use
 a box with a light bulb or ice chest with light bulb.  Others just
 have a warm spot in their house.
 Slash the tops carefully, brush twice with water, and bake at 375 -
 400 degrees for 40 to 55 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before
 slicing. If you like a darker crust try the higher temperature.
 b. A Simple Whole grain bread.  
 I get the Russian starter out of the refrigerator the night before and
 feed it a cup of unbleached flour and a cup of water.  The next
 morning put one cup of the starter into a bowel with 3 cups of water
 and 3 cups of whole grain flour.  I let this sit in a warm place until
 it is very bubbly (an hour or so) then add salt, sometimes sweetener,
 and enough whole grain flour to make the dough.  I then proceed as
 above.  I do not feed the original culture whole grain flour because I
 do not like a very sour whole grain bread and somehow the whole grain
 flours tend to make the culture extra sour.  I have tried the desem
 from Laural's Bread Book and find bread made with the refrigerated
 Russian starter far superior.
 4.  Patience and Practice.  
 While the Russian starter (when it is very lively) rises the bread in
 a couple hours, do not be surprised if it takes 6 or more hours for
 your bread to rise.  Starters which have been refrigerated tend to
 have very active yeast, the bread rises very well but is not very
 sour.  You may want to use the refrigerated starter until you get the
 hang of making the bread.
 When a starter is left out the lactobacilli tend to gain
 strength. This gives the bread a flavor but slows down the rising.  If
 you want to make extra sour bread you may want to leave your starter
 out.  It will change in character as the weeks go by and your bread
 will become more flavorful.  I find it usually requires about three or
 four weeks for the full flavor to appear.  If it is not fed enough and
 allowed to get too sour the yeast has difficulty rising the bread.
 Each starter is a little different.  You must learn your starter's
 characteristics.  I suggest starting with bread pans particularly when
 you are working with a very sour starter because the free standing
 loaves can become very soft and fragile while rising.  Once you get to
 know your starter and the characteristics of the dough by all means
 start making beautiful free loaves.
 For gobs of recipes and other information on sourdough see the FAQs
 from rec.food.sourdough.  Darrell Greenwood has a pointer to the FAQ
 locations at:
 A good source of info is in the books by Ed Wood.  His original book
 is out of print but he and Donna German have written "Worldwide
 Sourdoughs From Your Bread Machine".  He is the person who collected
 the starters and started Sourdough International. The book can be
 obtained from Sourdough International or from your local bookstore (It
 is one of those little "Nitty Gritty Cookbooks"). His information
 about starters and sourdough in this book is excellent and there are a
 lot of recipes which can be adapted for "old fashion" bread making
 including some for the ancient grains kamut and spelt. The newsgroup
 rec.food.sourdough has discussions about the making of sourdough bread
 and people who are willing to give you help, advice, and support
 should you need it.
 Hopes this info helps. We are Californians raised on extra sourdough
 French bread.  Each trip back we used to return to Canada loaded with
 bread.  I must be doing something right because the last time we went
 to California my family complained about the bread in California and
 we had to bring nothing back 8).
 Wow is there interest in sourdough!! I tried to respond to most of the
 questions but I think I sent two messages to some and none to others,
 I apologize. We were having some machine problems and I kept getting 
 Anyway.. some common questions.  What size container and how much
 starter in the jug left out of the refrigerator.  I use some of those
 Rubbermaid freezer containers.  The containers are between 8 and 16
 cups.  I have a variety of sizes.  I like to get the container no more
 than half full.  There is usually between 1 and 6 cups of starter in
 the pot (when I bake I usually use 4 cups of starter).  The starter
 usually gets fed 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of unbleached flour each
 day except the day before baking when it gets two feedings.  If the 
 starter pot starts to get more that 6 cups I tend to feed a little more.
 It also gets extra food if I know I am going to need extra starter for
 a big batch of baking.. ie my boys coming over for a bread raid.
 If you want to make your own starter check out the sourdough FAQ.  It
 and other sourdough information can be obtained from:
 Questions about bread machines are best posted to rec.food.sourdough.
 I use the biggest Kitchenaid mixer (the one with the 5 l bowel).  I have
 no experience with other methods of kneading dough.  Again your best 
 source of information about this is rec.food.sourdough.  I chose to 
 buy the big mixer rather than a bread machine after discussions in that
 news group. The favorite methods appeared to be the big Kitchenaid and
 the Braun Kitchen Machine.  The smaller Kitchenaids have a little trouble
 apparently handeling a 2 loaf batch of sourdough.  Bread machines seemed
 to be a lot of work and it seems that most with bread machines do not
 use them to bake the bread only to knead it. 
 Sourdough International shipped my order to Canada so I think they
 should ship to other places outside the US.  Carl Griffith accepted
 some US cash to cover the postage (and stamp licking) from me and sent
 my self addressed envelope promptly back with his starter and
 recipes. I am sure he would do that for the rest of you who live out
 of the country.
 The following is a review of the starters I have used.  It was posted
 in rec.food.sourdough.  Was going to tack it onto the post with the
 beginners guide and forgot. Sorry this repeats some things said earlier.
 REVIEW Sourdough Starters (Previously Posted to rec.food.sourdough) 
 I have collected a refrigerator full of sourdough starters, made lots
 of bread and enjoyed lots of bread. Most are from Sourdough
 International, One is Goldrush (definately not recommended) and the
 other is the 1847 Oregon Trail started generously provided by Carl
 I would highly recommend that anyone starting into sourdough baking
 invest in a good starter.  You can collect your own and it is fun to
 try but chances are slim that you will end up with what you want and
 that it will be stable.  There is a good reason that good starters
 were protected and shared and that ones like the Oregon Trail starter
 have survived, they are not easily developed.  Fortunately Carl shares
 his with the rest of the sourdough newsgroup and Ed Wood has made his
 marvelous collection available through Sourdough International.
 What follows are my own opinions and refelct the tastes of my family.
 I am a Californian who was raised on extra sour SF french bread.
 Started making sourdough bread to try to recreate the really sour
 stuff.I have listed the starters I have in three catagories....  MY
 FAVORITES, VERY VERY GOOD, and OK but Not Recommended. I enjoy and
 often make bread from refrigerated cultures activated the day before
 use.  I highly recommend that anyone starting out master this method
 first. For whole grain bread (which I do not like very sour) I always
 use the method with the refrigerated starter. The bread we enjoy the
 most, however, is the full flavored sourdough from sourdough cultures
 that have been at room temperature(fed daily) for a week, preferably
 more.  Much like aged cheese the marvelous sourdough flavor develops
 with aging.  All of these starters live on unbleached flour and
 bottled water. (I drink the tap water but the yeasties and beasties
 get the bottled stuff)
 ************  MY FAVORITES - THE BEST 
 RUSSIAN Starter from Sourdough International: Best all round except
 only mildly sour.  This thing is a monster.  Rises well.  It could
 probably do a fine job with mud pies.  Easy starter to work with.
 Great with whole grain breads because of its mild characterists and
 its great ability to rise bread makes it fantastic for rye.  Left out
 and fed each day it develops a truly outstanding flavor, not extremely
 sour, but a great tasting bread.  The Russian bread is so popular
 around here that a pot of this starter stays out all the time and is
 used approximatesl twice a week. The is a very stable starter. 
 BAHRANIAN Starter from Sourdough International: Best for extra sour
 sourdough breat.  Rises very well.  When left out develops a marvelous
 taste and is quite sour.  Keep it well fed when left out or it tends
 to produce bread which is too sour for my tastes after a couple
 weeks. This is a very stable starter
 1847 OREGON TRAIL Starter from Carl Griffith: This one rised well has
 a nice flavor and is moderately sour.  I have not had this starter
 long enough to be completely familiar with it but so far has been very
 stable and makes excellent bread.
 SAN FRANCISCO Starter from Sourdough International: This is the
 starter I have had the longest.  Great flavor but must really be
 pushed to give extra sour bread.  Does not rise quite as well as
 RUSSIAN or BAHRANIAN.  To make extra sour frenchbread I have started
 using two cultures.  One in a pot which is out for weeks on end and
 the other which is activated the night before baking from a
 refrigerated culture.  Very stable.
 AUSTRIAN Starter from Sourdough International: Great bread, nice
 flavor, very stable.
 FRENCH Starter from Sourdough International: Real French French Bread
 taste.  Nice starter, rises well, very stable.
 SAUDI ARABIAN Starter from Sourdough International:  Excellent bread.  Nice 
 flavor, very stable.
 **************************  OK BUT NOT RECOMMENDED
 GOLDRUSH Starter.. Rises well, flavor is acceptable. Quite unstable.
 Makes bread better than what you get in Safeway, but with so many
 other truely fine starters available I would not wast my time with
 this one.  This is the only culture that does not take to being mildly
 neglected when left out.  Molds quickly invade and it has happened
 several times.  I would blame the conditions I used when activating
 the culture except I got a second packet and it behaves the same as
 the first.  The second packet was activated the same time I got Carl
 Griffiths culture and his is going great guns.  It is fragil and must
 be constantly checked for contamination.  When not in use I would not
 store this one more than a couple weeks without refeeding.  Those from
 SDI take all sorts of abuse.  I frequently go months without paying
 attention to my refrigerator cultures.  If it had a truly unique great
 taste I would overlook the instability of the culture, however it does
 not.  This is one which I do not think will be in my collection much
 Sourdough International Phone (800)888-9567 or write to P.O. Box 670,
 Cascade, Idaho 83611.  They are 10.50 Each including shipping and well
 worth every penny.  Add up what you would be spending on yeast and
 these things make fantastic bread and are cheap at the price. I only
 have 6 of their nine cultures so far.  Will probably forget my stuffed
 frig and order the others one of these days in a moment of weakness.
 Carl Griffith: Carl makes his family heirloom available for the price of
 a self addressed stamped envelope. Send him a SASE (0.32 and a
 business size envelope) Carl Griffith, 322 Ravens : Ridge Road,
 Sequim, WA 98382. 
 Goldrush:  Sorry I do not have the address of this one.  I bought both of
 mine on trips to California.
 Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Sourdough International.  I
 am just a very happy customer who is very happy that Ed Wood has seen
 fit to share with us these cultures he collected as a hobby while
 traveling the world.  
 Thanks to these great starters my sourdough breadmaking has become
 very successful.  When family was in California this summer they
 COMPLAINED about the bread. 8) First time we have not had to travel
 back loaded with bread.
 If I had to go through life with just one starter it would be the 
 RUSSIAN and BAHRANIAN starters... Yes I know I said one but don't 
 think I could choose between these two.  The one thing that is very
 bad about this pair is that some truely fine starters are getting
 ignored because we like this pair so much.
 I would enjoy hearing from others who have starters to compare.
 kwvegan vegan