Homemade Sourdough Bread

Susan Feliciano Recipe

By Susan Feliciano frenchtutor

1 loaf
4 Hr
40 Min

I have been studying yeasts and bacteria in Microbiology class, and researched the history and microbiology of Sourdough Bread. It has a very interesting story, and the concept actually goes back to ancient Egypt, when flour and water were allowed to ferment before baking, as it made the wheat more tender and imparted a flavor to it.
This recipe I put together after reading literally dozens of recipes on the subject, most of which use packaged yeast in the starter, the bread, or both. But the science says it can be done without adding yeast, and this recipe bears that out.

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1 1/2 c
distilled water, warmed to 100°
1 1/2 c
all purpose flour (not self-rising)
clean ceramic crock or non-metal container with loose-fitting lid
a mayonnaise jar works well; punch small holes in lid for air.
2 c
active sourdough starter
3 c
(approximate) unbleached flour
2 Tbsp
oil or melted butter
4 tsp
1 1/2 tsp

Directions Step-By-Step

Blend the warm water and flour in the clean crock; don't worry about a few lumps. Cover loosely and store at room temperature (70-75°). Some people keep theirs on top of the refrigerator.
Feed the starter every 24 hours like this:
Discard 1 cup of the mixture and stir in 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Cover loosely and store at room temperature as described above. Feed the starter every 24 hours, this is very important!
In about 3-4 days, the starter will begin to bubble and ferment. It will smell like a brewery, or just like strong sourdough bread. This means that yeast from the air has begun feeding on the flour. This could take up to a week. Mine took exactly 7 days to reach this stage. Once it reaches this stage, it is ready to use.
If not baking bread immediately, place crock in the refrigerator and continue to feed as above once or twice a week. As long as you discard 1 cup and feed again at least once a week, it will continue to live and be active.
Place 2 cups of the starter into a large mixing bowl (stand mixer with dough hook works best - do not try this in a bread machine). Feed the remaining starter with 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour and replace in refrigerator.
Stir in the sugar, salt, and oil or softened butter. Mix well with paddle attachment of mixer or by hand. Incorporate in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, switching to dough hook once it gets a bit thick. Or, incorporate flour in by hand. Knead as much of the remaining flour in as necessary to get a smooth, soft, elastic dough. The amount of flour depends on how wet the starter is to begin with. Do not add too much flour - less is better.
Turn your dough into a large greased mixing bowl, cover loosely, and set in a warm place (80°) to rise, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Dough may not completely double in size, but if you poke the dough, it won't spring back to fill in the hole once it's done.
Punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes. Turn it onto a floured board or pastry cloth and knead a few times, shaping it into a long loaf. Place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover it with a thin towel, and allow to rise again in a warm place, until it doubles in size. This may take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Place bread in oven and then turn oven to 350°. You do not have to preheat the oven to bake sourdough bread; it benefits from the time it takes to reach the temperature. Set timer for 35-40 minutes.
Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Larger loaves may take longer to cook. Remove bread to a rack to cool, and wait to slice until fairly cool.
I use distilled water for my starter and for feeding it, because it is pure water and has nothing in it that might affect the action of the yeast and bacteria.
You don't have to discard the starter you remove each time you feed it; instead, use it as a base for pancakes, muffins, biscuits, or other breads or even cakes.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Breads
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: American
Other Tag: Healthy

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Aurora McBee aurora
Apr 18, 2012
It look fabulous Susan!!
Deb Crane songchef
Apr 18, 2012
You read my mind! I have been wanting to make sour dough bread for a while now! I came close to ordering a starter, but also read you can make your own. I will for sure be trying this! Thanks for posting the recipe! :) Interestingly, sour dough bread has beneficial bacteria like the Greek yogurt. I LOVE sour dough bread!!!
Natalie Loop KitchenLooper
Apr 18, 2012
One of my fav breads thanks for sharing! Can't wait to try that. Gotten away from breads this makes me want to start making them again!
Keep them coming!
Thea Pappalardo Sassy01
Apr 18, 2012
Thanks, Susan. I had no idea this was possible.
Karla Everett Karla59
Apr 18, 2012
Thanks Susan , the pic looks great ..already printed this off. :D
Didi Dalaba didicoffeegirl
Apr 18, 2012
Great recipe Susan, thank you, and thank you for the background explanation!!!

Is this like the Amish bread dough starter that women were passing onto each other a few years back?
Dee Stillwell LILLYDEE
Apr 18, 2012
I love sour dough bread and anything else made with SD starter. When I lived back east I couldn't find good sourdough bread. I resorted to making it and It was pretty good..I have never made it without yeast tho. It would be interesting to try. I quit making such things as they are dangerous to my diet. The Boudin's Bakery in San francisco has awesome SD bread..(They have 2 in Sacramento also)has been using the same mother starter since 1850. They were even able to save a bucket of it during the gret fire and earthquake of 1906. It is an interesting article about the history.


One trick to use when baking, that makes the crust the traditional crispy chewy texture...is to place a pan of water in the oven on the rack below the bread or use a spray bottle & spray the loaf lightly with water while baking.
Dee Stillwell LILLYDEE
Apr 18, 2012
BTW Susan ur bread looks soo good..great texture and and leaves me wanting some with butter right now! haha..or Italian Dipping Sauce for Bread (We call it Italian Butter) Yummm!
Carol Junkins CarolAJ
Apr 18, 2012
ohhh love a piece right now, with some of that Italian dipping sauce, whoa hoo
Straw's Kitchen CinCooks
Apr 19, 2012
Susan, when I was growing up my Mom and Grandmothers used to keep this recipe going in the frig all the time. They used it when making biscuits, pancakes, waffles, breads... etc.

You have done a beautiful job writing the whole process up for everyone. Makes it easy to follow...and your photos are great.

Thanks for sharing, it brought back tons of memories.
Deb Crane songchef
Apr 20, 2012
I am on day 3 today. :) Question.....how do you use the discarded batter? I am saving it so that I can use it. I assume you add it to your batters along with flour and water and whatever else depending on what you are making?
Susan Feliciano frenchtutor
Apr 20, 2012
I actually threw out the first 3-4 days of my batters, because it wasn't the proper dominant culture yet. But you can use it in lots of baked goods - pancakes or waffles, muffins, other breads like cornbread or banana bread, and biscuits, even cakes. I used some this morning in W D's Sourdough Biscuits.
Most sourcough bakers do use their "throw-away" batter for something, if they are not baking bread that day.
Thea Pappalardo Sassy01
Apr 22, 2012
Ok...I have a question. Actually, it's my husband's question. How do you keep dust from settling in it? Or is that what gives it it's unique flavor...lol