Sourdough Bread

I have made sourdough starter many times. I have had varied amounts of success with it. I first made it using a little yeast to get it going because I just could not believe that you could create a starter that would raise bread without yeast. That worked fine, and I made a few different recipes with it before I forgot about it and it died.

Then I read Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions and tried her recipe. It used rye flour and a daily maintenance of pouring the starter into a bowl, feeding it and pouring into a clean jar. I did have success with my starter and my bread, no yeast added. But eventually my starter turned a yucky color and smelled bad.. and I tossed it and I guess I tossed my enthusiasm for sourdough with it. Plus it seemed like a big hassle to change out the jar every day.. life is too busy for stuff like that.. at least for me.. :)

Well, last week I was doing some bread baking and thought.. I want to try a sourdough starter again. This time I started very basic. I mixed a ½ cup whole wheat flour, and a ½ cup white flour with one cup warm water.

I put it in a 2qt. canning jar and put some cheesecloth on the top secured with a rubber band and said.. lets just see what happens… I also did not bother with changing it out to a new jar each day. I just added the flour and water every day to the jar.

I was actually shocked to see that in 24 hours my starter was bubbly and smelled somewhat fermented.. I was encouraged to say the least. Each day for the next 5 days I fed it a ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ¼ cup white flour and a ½ cup warm water. I kept it in a warm spot and it bubbled away and continued to do its thing. 

Five days after I began I decided it was time to make bread. I began by pouring my starter into a bowl and feeding it with ½ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup white flour and 1 cup warm water. I let that sit and get all bubbly for a few hours (this step is called, ‘proofing’).

After it was done proofing (I could tell because the starter got bubbly and a slight fermented smell).  This took about 3 hours.  The longer it sets the more "sour" your sourdough bread will taste.  Then it was time to make bread.  I used the following recipe....

Sourdough Bread
2 cups sourdough starter
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2T olive oil
4t sugar
2t salt

I put the sourdough starter in my Bosch and added the whole wheat flour, oil, sugar and salt. I mixed this around and started to add my white flour, a little at a time.. this is VERY important to only add a small amount of flour at a time because the amount needed can vary a lot! It will depend on how thick or thin your starter is and the aborbancy of your flour. I found I only needed to add about ¾ cup white flour.. but you may need to add the full cup or even a little more. Judge this by the bread dough. When it is no longer sticky, you have added enough.

Knead the dough… in my Bosch I did this for about 4 to 5 minutes. In a Kitchen Aid you will want to do this about 7 or 8 minutes and if you are doing this by hand then it will be 12 to 15 minutes of kneading.

Put the dough in a warm place and let it rise until it has doubled in bulk. This may take awhile. Mine took about 2 to 3 hours.

Punch it down and shape it into a loaf. Put it on a cookie sheet (I sprayed mine with non-stick spray), cover it and let rise again. By the time I got to this step it was getting late so I left it in my cool kitchen and covered it with a towel and went to bed. In the morning (about 7 hours later) it had risen very nicely…

If my kitchen had been warm, it might have risen faster so doing it overnight would not have worked. In the future I will start my bread making process earlier. The best choice would be to proof the starter before I go to bed and then proceed to make the dough in the morning.

To bake the bread I put the dough in a cold oven, shut the door, turned the oven to 350 and let it bake for about 40 minutes. You will want to check it as it could take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. To know if the bread it done it should be golden brown in color and when you tap the bottom of the loaf it should sound hollow.

Leftover Starter
After making the bread dough you will have leftover starter. You need to give it another feeding of ½ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup white flour and 1 cup of warm water. Then pour the starter into a clean glass jar and cover it with the cheese cloth and rubber band. I again used a 2 quart canning jar. While my starter was proofing I washed my jar and then rinsed it out with some boiling water to make sure there were no stray germs hanging around.. :)

If you don’t plan to use the starter again for awhile put it in the fridge and remember to feed it ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ¼ cup white flour and a ½ cup warm water about once a week.

I plan and doing some more sourdough baking so I left it out after feeding. I will keep feeding it daily as long as it sits out. I will also share my new recipes as I play around with this starter. I would like to try some sourdough dinner rolls, sourdough pancakes and sourdough biscuits.. at least for starters! :) I'll keep you posted!


  1. I Will be watching for your bread posts,you didn't say anything about the flavor,I love sourdough bread,and am starting my own starter today. Blessings jane

  2. Thanks. I have wanted to try a starter again. Now that the weather is warmer I think I will give this a try. Look forward to future recipes. Thanks Crystal.

  3. Yes, what was the taste like? I've experimented with sourdough before and never really found anything to lift whole grains. This sounds exciting. With all our rain, chilly weather, and wet wood (to get the stove going!) I will wait to try this when it warms up a bit-Thank you- your ideas and recipes are always really good!

  4. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I have never made sourdough bread. It just always seemed too complicated to me. I think I will give this a try when the weather warms up more here. We are at that stage where I don't always have a fire and the house gets pretty cool. Enjoy your day and God bless.

  5. Jane and Jessica, on the taste.. I thought it was quite good.. It had that pleasant sour taste to it. As I have been researching sourdough I am finding that the longer you let it proof the more sourdough taste you will get.

  6. Thank you for sharing, I'm sure I'll be trying this soon. I've been wanting to make some sourdough bread just hadn't taken the plunge yet. Thank you for the encouragement.

  7. Thanks - I have been wanting to start one again.
    Love Leanne

  8. Can you add yeast to the bread to make it rise faster? And if so how much yeast would you add to it?

  9. Anon.. yes you can add yeast to speed up the process. I wanted to do it more traditionally but may at some point try it with adding yeast. I would have to do some research on how much yeast to add as I have not done it this way. I will keep you posted as I try new things.

  10. If you feed it after it is in the fridge how long do you let it sit out before putting it back into the fridge again?

    Thanks so much!

  11. Hi Kris, if you take it out of the fridge and feed it, you let it sit until it is done proofing. Then you feed it again and put it back in the fridge.. remember to feed it weekly after that..

  12. You have inspired me to try sourdough yet again!!

  13. How much starter did you have when you put it in the bowl to prrof it?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I put all the starter that I had made in the bowl and then proofed it..

    3. I would like to use my refreshed sourdough starter with your recipe. How much starter did you have when you were ready to proof with it?


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