Monday, October 31, 2016

Sourdough, Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I shared about my newest baby - sourdough starter from scratch!

If you missed that post, go here to read all about it, then come back for part 2.

My starter is still going strong. I feed it every day - 1 Tablespoon flour and 1 Tablespoon water.  About every four or five days, I sterilize a new jar and transfer half of my starter to the new jar, along with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.

The other half? It's time to make bread!

I've tried two recipes so far. The sandwich loaf is still in the experimental stage.

The flavor is wonderful! But the texture, rising and appearance? Well, we're still working on it.

The other recipe I tried was an artisan type bread, similar to the one Mary Jane made a few weeks ago. You can read that post here.

My recipe is a little different, and so is my method.

The lesson behind that? Baking bread is a personal thing. Very right brain. Try both of our methods and see which one you like better!

Artisan-Style Sourdough Bread

First of all, early in the morning or even the night before, feed about 2 cups of starter with an additional 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Set the jar in a warm place and let it work for at least six hours. You can see that my 2 cups increased to about 3 1/2 cups. The amount the starter increases depends on so many factors - temperature, humidity, how active your wild yeast beasties are... So don't sweat it if you have more or less starter than what the picture shows.

Next, get out a big mixing bowl. Put in three cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir until blended.

Add the starter and 1 Tablespoon honey (yes, the wild yeast loves sweets!) and mix it together. Add additional water as need  - up to 1/2 cup or so - until all of the flour is worked in and the dough is the consistency of biscuit dough.

Cover the bowl (I use the plastic lid that came with the bowl), and leave it on your counter.

OR, if the house is chilly, heat your oven slightly - just enough to take the chill off - then turn your oven off and set the bowl inside with the door ajar.

Let the dough rise 30 minutes, then knead gently and envelope.

What does that mean?

First of all, you have to treat your wild yeast dough very gently. It won't stand for a lot of punching, pommeling, pulling, or anything else you might do to another kind of bread dough. Gently pat and coax it into a rectangle shape on your bread board.

The dough will be sticky, so go ahead and use extra flour to keep it from sticking. I also use a spatula to lift and fold it.

Next, fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter, and then fold it in half.

Spray your mixing bowl with cooking spray, lay your dough in the bowl, and spray the top of the dough (to keep it from drying out).

Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, then repeat the envelope procedure.

Let the dough rise for another hour, and turn it out onto your bread board again.

By this time, you should notice a change in the texture of the dough.

Now is the fun part. Line a colander with a floured towel. Shape the dough into a boule (turn the dough in on itself to form a ball with a bit of a belly-button) and place it gently into the colander.

Let it rise for two hours.

Doesn't it look sweet?

And now it's finally time to bake the bread!!!! Preheat your oven to 400°.

But wait - we don't want to cause the beautifully risen loaf to flatten!

Here's how I transferred the loaf to my baking sheet.

First, I covered the colander with a piece of baking parchment.

Then I put a baking sheet upside down over the parchment.

Turned the whole thing over...

...then removed the colander and towel.

Ready for the oven! Put the pan in the oven with some moisture. You can put a pan with water in it on the lowest rack of your oven, or you can spray the loaf with water.

If you have a baking stone, preheat the stone in the oven, and slide the baking parchment and bread off the baking sheet and onto the stone when the oven reaches the right temperature.

Bake the loaf for about 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches between 200° and 210°.

Of course, the hardest part is waiting for the bread to cool enough to slice it! But wait at least 10 minutes. The longer, the better. If you can stand it, wait until the bread is completely cool.

I couldn't wait until it was cool, but that's okay. It was fabulous. And without that chemical "tang" of commercial sourdough breads. Yes, you can taste the sour part, but it isn't unpleasant or overwhelming. Just what I was hoping for!

And this recipe came together just in time for cold winter evenings. Even the buffalo know our sunny days are numbered. This guy has on his winter coat!

Once I get the sandwich loaf recipe the way I like it, I'll share that one here at the Cafe, too!

What about it? Do you think you'll try making sourdough from scratch?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:


  1. OH, that is a beautiful hunk o' bread! I'm so happy to be home, and happy to see this, because it is definitely bread-baking weather up here! Hallelujah! I love the cool down, love the wood stove, and soon we'll be raking leaves which is my version of a gym membership.... and free, which is a wonderful thing!

    Jan, this is delightful, and now that my wandering days are done for a while... I'm baking some bread!!!

    1. I enjoy the whole bread making process, and a recipe like this is perfect for a day of writing and doing home chores. Each step isn't very time consuming, but you do need to give it regular attention.

      Enjoy your leaf raking! Our trees are sparse here at the edge of the prairie, so no raking for us. I do miss the gigantic piles of leaves had back in Indiana. We had five big maple trees on our 1/2 city lot, plus a half-dozen others...and the neighbors were all similarly blessed. Our leaf piles were ginormous!

      And the children (of all ages) had so much fun. :)

    2. We love leaf piles! We've gotten some really cute baby and kid pics in those huge piles of fresh maple leaves!

      I'm working on a synopsis right now... my eyes might be crossing, but I think it will be a wonderful story!

      Have I mentioned how much I love, love, love telling stories???? :)

    3. Hmm. Yes, I think I remember you mentioning that once or twice. :)

  2. There's something about mastering bread making that's so satisfying. I feel downright pioneerish when I start kneading the dough. I'm back to striving for perfection in yeast bread and came pretty close last batch. It actually filled two loaf pans and came out looking like...well...bread! So, if I can make it successfully again, I'll be ready to try something trickier like sourdough bread. though, I have to admit, the coaxing of the starter does intimidate me a bit. :-)

    1. Kav, I can totally understand what you mean by the bread looking like bread! :)

    2. I've had more bread fails than I can count! But when it works...and you can tell it's going to work during the kneading process - it's beautiful. So satisfying!

      And the perfect thing to do during our coming snow storms!

  3. Boy, this is a lot of work! I may just order some online. LOL Boudin is a place we used to order from.

    I'm envious of you having homemade bread, Jan! We do have a bakery about 30 minutes from here that makes amazing bread. So that's always an option for me. :)

    1. It is a lot of work, but each step doesn't take long at all.

      But if you have a good bakery near by...yum! We have a Great Harvest store in town, but I try not to go too often!

  4. LOL, Missy, I had the same reaction. My real problem would be that if I baked it, I would eat it. #nowillpower

    But I'm very impressed, Jan.