Instructables

Sourdough Bread

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Picture of Sourdough Bread
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The. Best. Sourdough Bread. Ever. (or The Key to the Bread Universe)

The first time I ever had this great bread was in my sister-in-law's kitchen. I thought I was eating some artisan bakery bread when she casually mentioned that she had made it herself. I've made a lot of bread over the years but I've NEVER made bread like what I was eating. The world of bread changed at that moment for me. Two years ago I wrote a lot about sourdough on my blog, My Sister's Kitchen. Since then, with a lot of practice almost daily, my recipe and technique has been perfected--at least for MY kitchen! (If you want to read more about my sourdough journey, please feel free to check out My Sister's Kitchen.)

I had resigned myself to simply buying good, crusty sourdough since I never even came close to replicating the famous San Francisco sourdough loaves I ate as a child. But no longer~! For over two years now my kitchen counter has been lined with many bowls of starter, batter, dough, etc. (Dr. Seuss aficionados should think, Bartholomew and the Ooblek.) My entire kitchen has been taken over by this wonderful project. So far, the results have been overwhelmingly excellent!

A very important detail to note is that this method makes extra large loaves that are approximately 4.5 pounds each. Each loaf costs only $0.68 to make. That is sixty-eight cents. I buy flour and yeast in bulk, so it's possible that if you buy your ingredients at a regular grocery store, your loaf might cost twice that....a whopping $1.36! As you'll see, that's for a loaf that's about 3 times the size of a loaf of grocery store bread.

(And don't be intimidated by all the steps. I've broken things down into as simple increments as possible because this is really EASY!)

In some ways, sourdough starter is the ultimate renewable resource because it's ALIVE! I was coaching a friend through her first bread-making experience and explaining how to care for her starter. She turned to me and said, "You're talking about this starter like it's a live creature!" And she's right. It IS a live critter. As long as I keep it comfortable and well-fed, it will go on growing, replicating, and replenishing itself.

The art of making sourdough bread is a delightful exercise in returning to the "olden days" of some of the original DIYers--the gold miners and the pioneers. Sourdough isn't a new, green technology; it's an old, even ancient, technology that has sustained people for milennia. Making our own sourdough returns us to an age of LESS technology and LESS speed. Don't forget: LESS money too!

Sourdough bread, made properly, ambles slowly in a world that frantically runs. It might even ask for a tall glass of sweet tea and a rocking chair on the porch.

 
 
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KanwarSingh4 hours ago

just one word-impressive :)!!!!!!

HarryLaine7 days ago

impressive stuff :)!!!!!!!

love it sour

mgalgoci made it!12 days ago

I followed the recipe for the most part. I used a medium sized turkey pan with lid for baking, which worked out pretty well. I did NOT preheat the pan. I did however spear the pan with nonstick cooking spray (should contain dimethyll-silicone - release agent) and coated the sprayed area with uncooked grits.

The starter I made from wild yeasts. Absolutely NO commercial yeast was used. I basically took a flour/water mix as described in most how-to-make-sourdough-starter articles you will find on the internet. I did however leave it outside on the back porch on a warm night for a few hours, which is my own improvisation. Three days later of feed and care and the starter had attained self awareness. Note that you do not feed the starter sugar except maybe a teaspoon on the first day to get it going. You want your wild yeast culture to be adapted to consuming the starch and gluten present in the flour you will be using - thus, skip the sugar except on the initial start. Given how fast yeast produces you basically have controlled evolution happening in your wild yeast culture. Keep the culture covered and warm. I put a paper towel over my culture container and tied it with a string, keeping it in the garage.

Another tip I have for first time bread makers is to use bread flour. This is a hard lesson learned. All purpose flour is ironically not all purpose and will yield a bread loaf suitable for use as a doorstop. It doesn't matter how much yeast you add or how much sugar - you will end up with a doorstop.

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jorr7 made it!1 month ago

This is a fabulous recipe! My first time making sourdough bread was as huge success! I baked it in a cast iron skillet lined with oats as suggested. I didn't preheat the skillet or put a lid on it. I put a small pot of water into the oven while baking. The bake time is pretty much spot on! Everyone loved it and it was a special treat with Father's Day dinner! Thanks for the great instruction!

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Cynthia B2 months ago

best recipe I've ever tried for Sourdough. made it many times and it consistently turns out delicious!

Stmcgarret2 months ago

I followed the instructions and bread came out very good. I have made with different types of flour but bread flour worked best. Using mostly rye or wheat was too dense but still good none the less. Going to try a different ratio for my next batch.

jbloom22 months ago

My bread turned out better than I expected. It looked and smelled delicious out of the oven. It is really dense and very moist the second day. Nevermorefarm said they added 2.5 cups of flour before the second rise. I must have missed that part. Maybe I needed to add more flour. Should there be that much flour added? Thanks!

robinjohnson4 months ago

Not sure what I did wrong but mine turned out flat and dense and tough. Flavor is good, but the texture and density is all wrong. It never rose into a pretty round loaf while cooking. Question: It was soooo thin when making it that I thought I must have forgotten a cup or two of flour - it was almost pourable! It rose well on the first rise and seemed to rise okay on the 2nd rist (about 4 hours). What did I do wrong?

Fancygrl685 months ago

I just made BOTH starters (the one with yeast and the one w/o) as an experiment. I'm REALLY excited about this! I Also have an order of grain to ill coming in in the next couple weeks. I guess I'm super into this baking thing. =-D

tkmom645 months ago

First - let me say that I worship this recipe...have made it several times!

HELP: I started my dough yesterday morning and after digging out from lots of snow I made my husband take me to dinner and completely forgot about my dough until this morning! So...needless to say it was a little flat and thinned out but I don't think it is dead. I added more flour to feed it and thicken it up and had to put it in the refrigerator and head out to work. Anyone think there is a chance of survival and sourdough for dinner? Thoughts on the what to do when I get home....looking at the second rise I guess!

afitzgerald56 months ago
Love this recipe. Would love a version of this with just the recipe now that I've got this down and don't need the details.
kayo397 months ago
Thank you so much! I was having such a hard time getting sourdough bread that worked. I even purchased some starter from Nichol's Gardens in Oregon thinking it must be my starter. But still, using other recipes my bread was coming out doughy and heavy. Its the 15 hour rise. Really makes a difference. Our house is cool in the winter too, but it rose just fine. I split the dough in two though after the first rise because I don't have a pot that big. But I have two old Magnalite Dutch ovens with lids and those worked fine. I would like to try this on my pizza stone though as a batarde, maybe putting my long roasting pan lid over it will work. Does it work to have a cake pan of boiling water on the bottom rack and skip the lid idea?
Does the recipe have to be this big? Can make halve the recipe?
amickelson7 months ago
This has been my favorite recipe - amazing sourdough flavor. I've proofed it warm/fast, as well as the recommended 15 hours... Way better flavor as mentioned before to proof cooler and slow. In the previous attempts, mine didn't do well when I transferred to the preheated pan (deflated) so this time I just did the second rise in a greased Calphalon pan with cornmeal on the bottom. After the rise, I preheated the oven and covered it, stuck the whole pan in.... The bread and crust came out crunchy and perfect! One day I'll perfect the turn...Maybe once I get a pan that's the right size!
Jezirabid8 months ago
Just came across this recipe the other day, as I was making my first batch of sourdough starter... the oven's heating, and I'll let ya know what I think when it's done!
nevermorefarm8 months ago
One more thing....this is a lot of bread to eat in one day. Around 24 hours out of the oven, I slice the remainder of the loaf and place the slices into a ziploc bag, then into the refrigerator or freezer. This preserves the bread, and I make toast out of the slices before eating....zero waste for those times you don't give half of it away!
nevermorefarm8 months ago
I've made this recipe at least a dozen times now, and am completely in love with it...but I've worked a few tweaks that (for me) save time and hassle. A cast iron dutch oven works great but is very heavy for me to manipulate. A clay lidded oven (vintage Oven Brique)I found in a thrift store gives 95% as good results and is a fraction of the weight...just soak it as directed in water, then place it in a cold oven to preheat. I own a Kitchen Aid. This mixer can be used to make the initial dough with the beater blade and the pour shield (keeps the flour from launching out). For the first rising, I use a ceramic bowl covered with saran wrap. If you oil the saran wrap, no dough will stick to it, saving hassle. After the first rising, I transfer the dough back into the Kitchen Aid bowl, again fitted with the beater blade. It basically takes almost exactly three cups more of flour to get the dough to the proper consistency before the second rising...by adding a quarter cup at a time, the Kitchen Aid does all the work (Yes it's not purist, but I have bad wrists and this is a lifesaver for me). Obviously you have to use "feel" to determine how much flour to add based on ambient humidity, but 2.5 cups is going to be an almost guaranteed minimum. Don't use a credit card to scrape the dough from the ceramic bowl; just clean it up immediately with hot water. An ordinary silicone spatula will scrape all the dough out of the bowl. Once clean, oil it lightly with olive oil for the second rising. The before the second rising, regarding the last three cups of flour, substitutions can be made...I add in one cup of stone milled spelt flour and one cup of rye flour in place of bread flour at this point, which gives the loaf great flavor complexity while still retaining incredible texture. I don't have a proofing setting on my oven. On warm days I place the bowl covered with saran wrap and clean towels in a sunny location outside. On cold days I place a heating pad in my oven set on "high" which lets the oven be a great location for rising the dough.
I am a farmer who raises heritage grains. Today I'll be trying to make this recipe with 100% Sonora wheat flour that I milled yesterday....can't wait to taste that loaf!
sealtrain8 months ago
Great recipe well worth the wait!!!
cquintana210 months ago
By "t" is teaspoon or tablespoon meant?
Poincy2 years ago
Thank you so much. I just finished my first loaves of bread and they really are amazing. I am assuming that the flavor will become stronger as the starter "matures". I have a proofing setting on my oven. What is you opinion on using it with this bread?
I've never encountered an oven with a proofing setting. If it creates a warm (not hot!) environment, your bread will rise faster.

If you do a colder proof, you get a very slow rise with more flavor (bacterial growth is favored at lower temperatures).

If you do a warmer proof, you get a faster rise (yeast growth is favored over bacterial in warmer temperatures).
efish211 months ago
How big of a bowl do you use? The biggest glass or crockery bowls I have are 4-qt, and I wasn't sure it would fit properly. I used an 8-qt tupperware instead, and didn't think it ever looked like it got half-way full.

Great recipe and instructions, by the way. I've always been too intimidated to try making fresh, yeasted bread without using a bread machine. I have my first batch finishing off in the oven right now, and it's been very easy to follow your steps. Thank you!
Fishermom11 months ago
Thank you for your awesome instructions! I had success making two loaves of sourdough bread using the starter my hubby and I started last week. I had a bit of fear and trepidation but alas, for naught because the bread turned out beautifully and quite yummy. Thanks again!
BradOL1 year ago
If I preheat my glass/corning pan & cover at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, won't it crack when the dough goes into it?
My bread came out strange... the batter was very "wet"... it never quite got to that fully stretchy stage. The bottom crust is rock hard... but if I cut it off the bread tastes pretty good. I used less salt -- forgot that I always use unsalted butter so it needs a sprinkle of salt before eating. It is very moist even though the bottom crust is rock hard. It never did rise much, but my starter would never rise much either, even though it bubbled good and tasted sour. What do you think I did wrong? PS. The bottom hard crust is on the verge of being burned.. maybe a lower oven temp??
DaveineL1 year ago

California “bread” and born, my three favorite things about my home state is the citrus, avocado and San Francisco Sourdough Bread! . . . *Earned spending money when my children where small by making and selling bread and pasta. . . Always, always, always looking for and never finding a sourdough recipe that even resembled the chewy, rounded wharf staple wafting over the bay area ... that is until now AND I think it's even better! (Confirmed by my family who consumed that 4 ½ lb loaf in half the time it took to make it - LoL) I am still struggling with the turning part of the bread though ... I am used to kneading in enough flour to get the look and the feel (the shine and the bounce) but you seem to have something else in mind here ... wish I could see it on video or drop by someone’s house at bread turning hour to observe someone who actually knows what they are doing :) Any clarification on the subject would be appreciated. Thank you so very much for sharing this wonderful recipe ... Can't wait to get the "feel" so I too can perfect it for my friends and family.

Kelemvor, how much is 'not a lot'? I usually give away about a cup, but you can get by with just a few ounces. If you do have about a cup, use the standard directions without discarding any (one cup of flour and half a cup + of H2O...). If you have a small amount I'd start by cutting the feed amount half and building it up to a larger quantity by feeding it a few times. King Arthur sells theirs in 1oz jars, which is pretty small...here's how they tell you to get it going... http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/sourdough-starter.html
kelemvor1 year ago
So we got some sourdough starter from a friend. What do we need to do with it to start? There isn't a whole lot so I'm assuming we have to get it bigger before we start making any bread. Do I want to do what's written in that Care and Feeding link?

Any other tips for a first timer? :)
Amyldawson I can get the page to let me do a direct reply...so it's going up here... the covered baking works best, but there are some other options. Bouchon suggests having a pan filled with stones and chains preheated and splashing or spraying water on them before baking . You can also use a spray bottle and spritz the top of the dough before it goes in. I've also learned that I add some crushed ice between the sides of the dutch oven and the parchment paper and it works perfectly to generate some initial steam while baking, giving the crust a nice shiny appearance. I don't think just a pan with water underneath works that well.
amyldawson1 year ago
This is an excellent recipe! I'm making my 2nd batch. I am using a wild yeast starter so I didn't add any extra yeast (the weather is really warm right now). Can someone tell me how I could use this recipe to make sourdough loaves? I have the sourdough loaf pans (holds 2 loaves of bread) but the dough seems a bit loose for me to use them (they have vent holds). Also, I would have no way to cover them up, but thought a pan of water in the bottom of my oven would work. Any recommendations?
***And a quick follow up to my earlier post:
Also, I have gotten less afraid to add a bit of salt...The recipe calls for 2 tsp, and I usually use about 2.5. Seems to make the bread taste better (it was a little flat tasting with only 2). It doesn't seem to impact the overall rise or quality of the fermentation. What else...I use a bit more water than the recipe calls for, probably less than a quarter cup more added to the last step to adjust the wetness of the finished dough. In the first step of mixing, I use a whisk and VIGOROUSLY whisk the water and starter until its light and very foamy/bubbly. Don't be afraid, the yeast/starter LOVES air and you'll have better rises from it.
I've been using this recipe weekly for the past month. I've also gone through a number of others, including the King Arthur Flour recipe, and the Bouchon recipe. This one is by far the least fussy to produce and the most successful. I've done it both with and without added yeast with success. I use a 4 quart Le Creuset dutch oven (oval) and a 3 quart round Le Creuset for 'half loaves'. They both are plenty big, and can produce a loaf that's TALL enough to use for sandwich bread. I've also tried both all purpose flour and bread flour. All purpose works well but you don't get the same 'crust action' on top with it. I let mine rise for 12-14 hours @ 55* and 12hrs @ 65. It comes out very light and fluffy with big air pockets that home bakers seem to want. My REAL secret is after you 'turn out' after your first rise, LINE YOUR BOWL WITH PARCHMENT PAPER and return the dough. Then once it proofs, you can just lift it out and into your baking vessel very gently. It won't deflate and will stay fluffy and light.
Msalle1 year ago
After the long rise, which I ended up putting it in the fridge for several hours overnight so I didn't have to wake up and make bread in the middle of the night, there was a dry crust over the top. It seemed really dy. it was nice and moist underneath but those little dry pieces are now mixed in, hopefully it won't be a problem. Last rise happening now. Didn't see tons of bubbles or liquids though so concerned it won't turn out. Thoughts?
xrhodie1 year ago
Hallellujah!!! My quest for a rockin' sourdough bread recipe is over! Thank you sooo very much... made my first loaf, today... it is awesome!!! ...and to the mean spirited poster - magicentral - go get yourself a life... this recipe was posted with love... and must have taken quite some time.. sure allowed me to make AWESOME bread... and if you disagree with the author... on such a stoooopid point... eat a nice pill... politely point it out... and move on... if I can find out how to vote... I'll vote this recipe as FIVE stars!!! Thanks, once again!
dinosb1 year ago
I didn't notice anyone else respond to your comment but I do not suggest that you continue to use the fina "cake" flour...different types of flours have different gluten content and higher gluten makes chewier bread ....cake flour/pastry flour is lower gluten..all purpose would be medium and bread flour would be higher so technically all purpose would be a better choice for you than cake flour (and probably cheaper) which is taking your gluten content in the opposite direction ...sometimes if I lack bread flour i will use all purpose flour with about a 1/4 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten per cup of flour used to increase the gluten content...I have made this recipe with bread flour and it comes out fantastic...the gluten forms very well if you follow the instructions and I assume it would come out pretty close with all purpose as well. Hope that helps some and I plan on posting some pics of the next loaves i make if i remember.
tcr1 year ago
Wonderful, clear instructions; thank you! I am new to this and have just revived my first dry starter and am ready to bake my first batch of sourdough! I'm in Portugal and everything is just a bit different, including finding baking products. Strangely, I can only find fresh yeast (refrigerated, foil-wrapped cubes). Do you think this would be a problem and, if not, what would be the conversion? Also, I cannot find anything labeled "bread flour" so have purchased simple, "fina" (fine) flour "para bolas" (for cakes). Will this be a problem? Thank you again for this wonderful site. Excited to start baking!
Ok. Loaves are out and I will tell you that this is a great recipe. It was necessary that I adjust a few things. My starter must be a bit more loose than yours as I used 3 cups each of wholegrain and bread flour. I ended up adding one more cup after the overnight rise.
I do not have access to a pan like yours. Therefore, I used a flat baking sheet lined with baking paper and polenta (we do not have cornmeal here) I then put a broiler pan filled with water on the bottom of the oven while it was pre-heating. I put the loaves in (at 200°C Fan Forced oven) leaving that pan of water in to produce the steam. It worked well and the loaves are sour and have a perfect chewy crust and colour. Thanks so much.
Am using your recipe now. It is night here in AU (and Summer) I already have my own starter. I shall check back tomorrow and let you know how this great recipe turned out. Thanks.
m2crabby1 year ago
So, I'm on my 4th loaf.... And this is the BEST recipe EVER!!! My starter was already pretty top-notch, and I have made other loaves of sourdough using other recipes, but this is by far, the whole family's favorite. I let it rise 13 hours overnight, 2nd rise is 3 hours. I add 1/4 tsp of citric salt. I use my grandmothers old 4qt cast iron dutch oven. I bake at 350 instead of 400, maybe my oven runs hot? Anyway, so perfect! Thanks for the wonderful, easy recipe!
cwiens11 year ago
Oh my goodness! Thank you SO much for finally providing a step by step instuctable for my most favorite bread! I live at high altitude and have thus far been terribly disappointed in all my previous bread baking attempts. My first try following your instructions made wonderful bread (2 smaller loaves) which I baked in a cast iron dutch oven. My kids came home from school asking what smelled so good! Thank you! I will be making many more in the months to come.
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My 1st attempt at this turned out GREAT! Two things I did different: During second rise, I separated into two 9.25 x 5.25 loaf pans, preheated to 435 with pan of water in bottom of oven (humidity raises the overall oven temp), covered for 30 mins, uncovered for 15 min - VOILA! Getting ready to start the second batch today for tomorrow!
dmaui1 year ago
I think I may have jumped the gun on this one. My starter is onky 2.5wks old but is alive and kicking & smells wonderfully sour. I thought I would get started on a loaf but I don't have a dutch oven or cast iron skillet. I have a couple Pyrex dishes but no lids..was gunna attempt foil but after reading some comments that idea no longer sounds promising. & I'm afraid my Pyrex might explode :/ Was thinking I could use a few loaf pans -- again with foil? or mayb my loaf pans and put them inside my heaviest pot that has a lid? Or mayb just the stock pot by itself? I'm on my first rise and was hoping to bake tomorrow but I might be a little too optimistic and might have to start over another day :( Anyone tried other methods with this recipe? I didn't realize it was too wet a batter to put straight onto a pan and free form it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated--tnx! This recipe looks and sounds awesome!
eyesee1 year ago
good
kjepson1 year ago
If my sour dough didn't produce a nice brown crust, could my coven temp be off?
stivo85411 year ago
What kind of yeast did you use? Instant or Active dry yeast? If active dry yeast then why did you omit the proofing step? Your bread looks amazing! Hope to hear from you soon.
magicentral5 years ago
I love this instructible and hope to eventually try it, but I hesitate in voting because I still don't see how it saves energy. Unless you are using local wheat, locally ground etc. it is still, aside from being cheaper, not that green. Maybe you will get one of my votes if you can better explain...
Truth is reading your comment you are difficult ! Nothing could please you even if she walked 100 Miles to the Store and sat on the dough to make it rise , some people are impossible to please because they just want to be negative you are one of them. Ease up and stop being ridiculous not like you had your arm twisted to come here . Keep your vote you need it!
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  magicentral5 years ago
Well, I buy wheatberries approximately once every two years. I grind them myself. I buy my white bread flour (pictured in the ible) 100 pounds at a time. That alone means that the cost (energy-wise) of getting ingredients into my kitchen is lower. There are no energy-consuming appliances used to assemble or mix the bread. Human-power constructs it. If I use my woodstove, which is already hot from heating my home and my domestic hot water, then I don't even use the electricity to heat my oven. That's just a start, but I hope that helps you understand what I'm thinking. Thanks for asking. msk
I understand, but if these people are doing it, I don't think that many buy in that large quantities. So for us it would not be so efficient. We use normal stoves and, often, electric mixers. So a high rating, but no-go on the vote from me so far.
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  magicentral5 years ago
Well, you definitely need to "vote your conscience." I'll just say that I am convinced that the more we can make/bake/cook/sew/build/create ourselves, the better off we are. This ible reflects a lifetstyle of returning to the basics and doing for ourselves that my family has chosen. We find that overall, we are consuming far fewer resources, be it energy or materials, when we do for ourselves. A huge, added benefit is that we live better this way too.
peace,
msk
Cookinmama1 year ago
I love this recipe! I made it the first time exactly as directed and now I'm trying it with half einkorn whole wheat flour. We will see how it turns out! I have a couple of questions:

1) It is 1:00pm and I just covered it for the first 12-15 hour rise, but I realized that would be 1-4am! Whoops! It's in a cool basement, so should I just leave it until the morning or put it in the fridge before I go to bed tonight (or now?). If so, should I leave it on the counter for a couple of hours before I turn it out for the second rise?

2) how would you make rolls our of this recipe? Is it too wet to attempt making smaller dollops for dinner rolls?

Thank you so much for finally giving me a sourdough bread I can make!

BTW, I out my first batch in a covered clay pot and it turned out great.
I made a rule for myself because of the long time of the rise. It has to be started in the evening.

I put it together as late in the day as I can stand - and then put it in the frig overnight. In the morning I take it out and let it come to room temp (at my house I put it in the oven with the light on for 2-3 hours - sometimes longer).

Then I go to the next steps and usually can bake it in the early afternoon.

What a great bread....and what a joy to make and serve!
madison21 year ago
i've read somewhere else, that one is to put the dough in towels for 2 hrs. (with it being so sticky I don't want to ruin my towels). I understand from you that it's just pour dough (sticky like oatmeal) into previously warmed/HOT ceramic pot? Bake 45 min cover. OK, maybe I'm slow, or just careful. Last time I did this, the bread was VERY dense. Too dense.
I'm no sourdough expert - but I have been making this wonderful recipe every couple of weeks for months (ever since my starter was ready and I found this great instructable). I still have questions of my own, but I think I can answer this one.

No towels!

In my experience, the dough is a bit sticky but not nearly as wet as oatmeal. Bake for 30 minutes covered at 450 - and then lower the heat to 350 - remove the cover and bake for 15 more minutes (or a bit less for a softer crust) for a total of 45 mins.

The denseness may be due to how active your starter is, or how long your dough has been rested.

My starter has continued to improve (it's from scratch and is about 9 months old) both in the texture of loaf it produces and in the sourness. My first few loaves were pretty dense but they still tasted great.

Cookinmama1 year ago
Could this be ready to turn out after only 4 hours, instead if 12-14 listed in the directions?my dough is much bigger and has bubbles on top. Some are popping.

Should I wait or move on to turning out the dough?
Tarkanos1 year ago
How would you alter this recipe when dealing with a firm sourdough starter?
mike 20122 years ago
I followed the recipe to the tee......loaves turned out brown beautiful loaves.....crust was harder than a brick bat.......what can I Do?
it means that the dough was dry during baking, so the crust formed too soon. this is why the recipe calls for a covered pan, most likely your dough was a bit too dry (too much flour) or your pan didn't have a good cover and too much steam escaped. the crust started developing early and became far too developed.

you can spritz the top of the dough with a bit of water before putting it into the oven to help prevent this or get a pot with a tighter seal.
Drac02 years ago
I've been making starters for a while, finding the time to make the bread for me has been the difficult part. I finally broke down and made the time to make my first sourdough bread and chose to use your recipe.

I can't wait to taste it, I'm serving it up with dinner tonight.
Drac0 Drac02 years ago
Here's the photo I thought I posted..
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dfrederick22 years ago
Barb, Thanks so much for this instructable, it was entertaining as well as informative. I had just finished up drying a batch of fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt pepper and garlic powder. I chopped them mixed them into two tablespoons of olive oil and added them to this recipe right before the resting period. I let it rest in the refrigerator over night because of this heatwave we are having and I baked it first thing this morning. Totally awesome bread!!!! I have had my starter going since February, but this is the first time it has turned out tasting like real sourdough bread and the tomatoes really added some zest. Half the loaf is gone already and it's just me and hubby here :) I'd give you 5 stars!
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Shadeburst2 years ago
I liked this recipe because I have arthritis and my hands don't enjoy kneading dough. I made a smaller loaf and it came out perfectly. Thanks!
eubean2 years ago
I understand Bobett's concern here. It's as if the reader needs, at least, a verbal instruction to keep from doing anything to the dough at this point. With the statement "the dough starts feeling elastic and practically alive," it implies that you must handle it. So I incorporated more flour and needed the wet dough. It became more of a workable dough by doing so. It may not hurt it but, if you don't look at the next step/photos, you wouldn't know whether to Knead it or leave it alone.
I made just one loaf, HUGE MISTAKE , my family did not wait to cool off in less the 5 minutes was all gone, and I had to make more 6 loafs because every one want to take home half loaf(Memorial Day every body came to see our Grandfather he is a war vet WW II. He is 96 years old) so this was a double success . Thanks for the memories.
debbiecarol2 years ago
I posted this to the questions when I signed up, but there are no peramiters for the second rise, double?
Just made the bread for the first time this weekend. I did not even add any extra yeast (but was generous on the starter) and it turned out great. We too it to a picknick and it was gone pretty quickly. Thanks for the recipe!
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rwilliams312 years ago
You can also get some Oregon sourdough starter from 1847, for only the price of one envelope and a stamp from http://carlsfriends.net/
e-spiv2 years ago
An excellent recipe, I just turned out my first loaf and it was phenomenal. My starter is a little mild, so I used 50% more than this recipe called for to get a good, sour flavor. I also added a tablespoon of sugar to balance out the sourness (I halved this recipe, so it would be 2 tablespoons for the whole thing), and it worked very nicely. I realize that doesn't help the sustainability/cost effectiveness of the whole endeavor, but it does taste quite good.
Bobett2 years ago
How many scoops are we talking about? Just enough to get the dough out or are we kneading it a bit? 5-10? 20-30? I made this once before and it took a long time for my second rise. I wondered if it had something to do with this step since my kitchen was pretty warm. BTW..... I love this bread. A big thanks to my neighbor who introduced me to this site and gave me a starter.
JoeWirth2 years ago
This was my first ever sourdough bread and it turned out great, if a little wet, but really flavorful and jummy!

Can't wait to make more. The loaf is really big, I will try to get smaller cast iron dutch ovens.

Thumbs up!!!
Just wanted to update after having done this recipe a couple of times. If you have a nice and active sourdough starter, than you won't need the extra yeast.
drmike-s2 years ago
I forgot to mention, - your recipe uses double the quantity that Jim Lahey uses in his loaf. This will make 1 huge loaf or 2 normal sized loaves. Adjust the size of the Dutch oven accordingly.

Mike
drmike-s2 years ago
Thanks for a lovely recipe! This is basically the same artisan loaf that Jim Lahey popularized in his book "My Bread". The secret is in the long (18 hour) rise and baking the loaf in a cast iron pan in a hot (450º-475º) oven. I've been looking for a sourdough variation of his bread and you have provided it. Thanks again.

Mike
bbowen52 years ago
I was so skeptical about this recipe because the proportions seemed off, the rising time was so long, the second rising time was too long, and how could you cook bread in a Dutch oven? I am so glad to be wrong because my two loaves came out perfectly, tasting just like the "Staff of Life" my Nana talked about years ago. Thank you so very much! I did knead the dough for about 10 minutes after the first rise , but next time I'll follow it exactly. You are a genius baker!
Thank you so much for this. I've been working with a starter for several months and only succeeding in making bread bricks. Thank you for permission to use a tiny bit of yeast because my kitchen is cold. I live in Finland! Now, I know that our rye bread is made with a sour starter, but Finnish rye bread doesn't rise much. I am using a starter that I bought in San Francisco. I think it's considerably warmer there than here. I used 1/4 tsp of yeast and had great results. I tried cutting it back to 1/8 so I am sure that I'm using the least amount necessary. The result wasn't a brick, but it was extremely chewy. I'm going back to using 1/4 teaspoon of yeast through the winter/spring and will try again with no yeast in the summer.

Thanks from one very happy transplanted Texan.
Question about keeping active starter happy. When keeping it out at warmer temperatures, how can you tell you still have a pure product or other yeast or bacteria have not entered and take up residence? I had some starter from friendship cake and I cut it (for making cake and dividing up to give to other persons) and then added more flour and water and punched it down but was not sure how long you could keep doing this, and how much time do you normally have in between restorations. So with sour dough, must you be a daily baker or is there a way to efficiently store it for say next week.
Hey N.C....here's the scoop. No matter what you do, eventually the airbourne yeast WILL infiltrate your starter. This is okay as that it just gives your bread it's own "local" personality. As that you posted your note 5 months ago, hopefully you have learned that it can be refrigerated, and that refrigerated starter has to be used at least once a month to be healthy.
Also, some hardcore individuals keep a batch at room temperature at all times, but this means endless daily feeding and multiplying stocks unless you have a bakery. There are many online sites for care of your starter.
muhu222 years ago
This recipe rocks! I made a beautiful (huge) round the 1st time out...with a VERY finicky starter. So few recipes fulfill their promises, this baby exceeded all expectations. Thanks a mil!
dross92 years ago
I created a PDF containing just the condensed recipe, for easy reference. In case anyone else would like to use it:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15572309/Crusty%20Sourdough%20Bread.pdf
dross92 years ago
This work really well- it's a huuuuuuuge recipe though. I halve it and the resulting loaf is still pretty generious.
Mine is in the oven right now (followed this recipe).. I hope it turns out well! :) It sure is a huge loaf!
how'd it turn out?
rpierce22 years ago
I have to admit, at first I was a bit skeptical that my bread would not come out using these instructions but the fourth batch is now in the oven. My partner devoured most of a half loaf to himself. I took a double batch loaf to work and everyone loved it. The most exciting part is my second rise for this loaf ended up being longer than the first (because I fell asleep) but it seems to be doing just fine in the dutch oven. I love it. I don't think I will use another method.

My starter was a week old when I made this bread and the first loafs were so tangy and sour and ridiculously spongy; it was amazing. The second batch had been retarded in the fridge because the kitchen was too warm for my timing and the bread turned out fine, just not as sour/spongy.

Looking for the results i got on my first bake so I've got my fingers crossed for 15 more minutes. If it isn't the same as the first time, then in the future I will leave the amount of starter needed out instead of in the fridge, as that use of the starter had never been refrigerated.

I want to start another batch but am now out of flour. I've gone through 15 lbs of flour this week.
Made my starter. Made this recipe and the huge loaf and multiple ungiven bits of my starter have consumed my kitchen! : [[ Oh mann. What do you do with it all?
bowow08073 years ago
i have made my own sourdough starter, here is what i did-
using equal parts flour to water mix well both at room temperature mix well then cover and leave for 2 days, after that add half of equal parts flour and water to your original mix then wait another 2 days, after that remove about half don't be precise just eyeball it and replenish, repeat the last step twice more and you have a starter. just add equal parts water and flour to replenish it after you use it

notes*
first-use whole wheat or preferably rye flour because the processed stuff will have the yeasts in it killed when packed so use those kinds of flour.

second-you will know that it is a healthy starter when it is bubbly and slightly runnier than when you mixed it and smell a bit sour then it is healthy, but to be sure that it is producing CO2 to let the bread rise cover your container with plastic wrap and if the plastic cover rises then it is healthy.

third-in the first or second replenish don't be scared of the unusual smell coming from it it is normal it will pass.

fourth- if you find that the starter has a gray/blackish fluid sitting on the top, that is normal just pour out he liquid and replenish as normal before using.

fifth- and finally if you wont be planning to bake for a while place you starter in the fridge to slow down the buggers and to allow moderate feeding.

Have Fun!

Reference-
sourdough 101 thefreshloaf.com
rhdaviso3 years ago
hey, i was wondering how you get the shape of your bread in the last picture. It doesn't have the ridged edges of the rectangular one. What pan are you using?
Your instructions were great and who can not want to start making bread right away. This got the family involved and making bread together. Now my helpers ask.. How is the starter doing?
bonfire8173 years ago
Just wanted to drop a note to say thank you so much for this great instructable. I tried it when I was green to breadmaking and it turned out ok, but really burnt. Several months later and with a trusty oven thermometer (my oven runs 50 degrees hotter than the setting!!) I have been experimenting with various recipes, but came back to your instructible. I just made a loaf and it is WONDERFUL! The whole house smells lovely! Thank YOU!!
5533022219_b502831835.jpg
lthomsen4 years ago
 Thank you for this instructible! I have been using it for a couple weeks and while my first batches turned out too 'doughy' and wet, my most recent batch worked best. I added a bit more flour so it was a dryer dough.  Then I baked it longer than instructed.  Thank you again for the detailed instructions with pictures! I love it!
The relative humidity in your area will make the dough moister or drier. I lived in Alaska, where the air is dry, but not as dry as Arizona!, then moved to Kentucky with more humidity, and now, Southern Alabama, which is even more humid. I found that my dough will be different in each of those places because of the difference in humidity. But I also found here in Alabama, that if I add enough flour to make my dough feel like it did in Alaska, that my final product turned out too dry. So be careful about adding too much extra flour.

Another note about where you live: elevation... or how close or far from sea level you are will make the dough, and maybe the sourdough rise faster or more slowly. So length of time for raising or proofing could be different.
alpine1114 years ago
I just found this discussion. The info is pretty good (except for the Baker's yeast addition). I own a sourdough bakery and currently make over 13,000 lbs. of sourdough bread monthly.

I wrote a paper on sourdough for new employees; I found people who don't understand sourdough can't make good sourdough. I'll post it here if it fits:

 

What is Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is a working culture of yeast and lactobacillus that flourish together. The lactobacillus produces the sour flavor; the yeast causes the bread to rise. The microorganism community in a good starter is pretty special. Not only must the strains of yeast and bacteria thrive on flour and water only, but they should also not compete for the same nutrients in the flour. The strain of lactobacillus must also be tolerant of the anti-bacterial effect of the alcohol the yeast produces; and the strain of yeast must be tolerant of the acidity the lactobacillus produces. Since the lactobacillus works slowly, the yeast in the culture must also be slow acting. For this reason, some of the best, most perfectly balanced sourdough cultures have been handed down for generations, are closely guarded, and are very old.

NOTE: Do you want a good sourdough starter? Go to www.sourdo.com. They inventory and preserve many excellent (and some very old) starters for everyone to enjoy. I tried several over the years while a hobbiest, I personally recommend the Ischia Island starter in the Italian package.


 

Want way too much information? Read On.

The sourdough lactobacillus is a bacteria similar to (but not the same as) the dairy lactobacillus strains used to produce the sour flavor in sour cream and yogurt, and the lactobacillus strains used to make vinegar. The dairy fermentation process produces mostly lactic acid; the vinegar fermentation process produces mostly acidic acid. The fermenting sourdough lactobacillus produces both lactic and acidic acids, giving sourdough it’s unique sour taste. The lactic acid provides the mellow, good aftertaste sour; the acidic acid gives you the sharp, in your face sour.

 

The lactobacillus also produces a bonus: It actually predigests the flour to a certain degree while producing enzymes that help human digestive systems digest not only the bread, but many foods eaten with the bread as well. Some people with gluten and wheat digestive issues claim they can eat sourdough with little or no problem.

 

The slow fermenting yeast (yeast is a fungi in the mushroom family), produces not only some flavor, but most importantly, the carbon dioxide gas necessary to make the bread rise.

 

Currently, about 1,500 Yeast species have been described; it is estimated that this number represents 1% of all yeast species. The genus Lactobacillus currently consists of over 125 species and encompasses a wide variety of organisms. (i.e. Huskies and Chihuahuas are members of the same species, but are not particularly interchangeable.) Capturing the best wild yeast and wild lactobacillus to create an excellent starter is purely a matter of luck. Again; this is why some of the best commercial starters are closely guarded and very old. (Some people believe starter "acclimates" to an area and the various DNA somehow magically mutate to become the same as all the other starters in the same geographical area........Completely incorrect.)

 

Commercial baker’s yeast is a strain developed to feed on all the food elements in flour and produce a fast consistent rise. The down side is that baker’s yeast produces very little flavor (and no enzymes). Almost all of the flavor in regular bread comes from additives such as sugar, milk, oils, eggs, etc., etc.

NOTE: If a "sourdough" bread label lists vinegar as an additive and does not list starter, it’s artificially soured standard bread dough with zero of the above health benefits. (I’ve seen both vinegar and starter listed, I can’t imagine why, except to prop-up a really inadequate or incorrectly used starter.)

 

Sourdough needs no additives; although combining the sourdough flavor with: nuts, dried fruits, honey, onion, herbs, spices, etc., while not required, is certainly not a bad idea!

 

In short: Sourdough is simply the best bread in the World...And the best bread for you...Period!

The long explanation of sourdough was wonderful! thanks for sharing that.

I have made sourdough bread off & on for years, but have used store bought yeast to start it.

One more comment, We DO knead; the first rise is two hours @ 90f; the dough is then rolled-out into loaves; the second rise is five or six hours @ 90f.

But, that's using our 95 yo+ starter. Every starter has its own set of rules: Slow lactobacillus / fast yeast = retard yeast a lot, long proof will kill yeast. Slow lactobacillus and yeast = do not retard yeast very much, can proof much longer.

If you don't start with a good starter, no rule will work.
str8jacket3 years ago
How come my starter looks so different than yours? Hmmmmmmm. Mine is more like Playdough mixed with a bottle of Elmers glue.....really thick and sticky. I have to cut it with a knife to get out 1 cup to make the sourdough bread. Yours looks more liquid. Am I doing something wrong? I bought the starter from King Arthur and followed the directions to a "T". It is obviously alive....bubbling and all, it's just super thick. Should I add some more water? I am just about to make my very first bread! I read your instructable at least six months ago and have thought about it every single day since! I am baking breads for Christmas presents this year. Maybe you would be willing to teach us how to make those fancy sourdough tops like you have pictured on your starter page??????

Thanks for this amazing instructable!!

~Leesa B
Taos, NM
Hello every one my name is David and I make sourdough and I made this movie. I was wondering if anyone was interested in watching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNNwzt8eoTQ
pcline23 years ago
I have a quick question for anyone out there. I know you should not use metal utensils with the starter, but i was wondering about using them with the bread. i have a small kitchen and using my stand mixer would make the whole process a lot easier. thanks
Absoulutley, you could use a metal bowl for just mixing. The key is not to let it sit in the metal bowl. Although I still don't recomend this because it seems to feel more personal when you use ceramics and wood. In closing go ahead use metal as long as the dough is not going to be setting in the metal bowl for a long time. Now, here's a movie how I make sourdough.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNNwzt8eoTQ
Kairah5 years ago
Note for the bake temperature, that in Europe we don't use Fahrenheit but Celcius.

450F = 232 C
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  Kairah5 years ago
Kairah, Thanks for the conversion. It never occurred to me to note that the 450 degrees is Fahrenheit. Sorry for the oversight! MSK
A simple thumb rule at baking temperatures level is simply to half the F temp. to get C temp. 500F = 250C (actual is 260C), 450F = 225C (actual is 232C),
400F = 200C (actual is 204C), 350F = 175C (actual is 177C), 300F = 150C (actual is 149F).

Gamya
lol you put urs on 450 celcius
 hahahahahaha, that would put all that bread on fire, literally!  :D
450 C would give you charcoal!
Purple Guy3 years ago
whats wrong with funky un-natural ingredients?.....they make me feel all woopy-di-doop!
Great Instructable, and your final product looks phenomenal! The oven is preheating for my first loaf- I've been drooling over it for the past week while getting my starter going. Now it's business time.
bonfire8173 years ago
Can you put it in the fridge after it rests and before you bake it? I am having some work hour related issues... =)
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  bonfire8173 years ago
YES!!! In fact, during warm weather, the bread will "pop" much better if you refrigerate it before baking. One of the trickiest things about baking a long-rise bread during the summer is that it tends to turn out flat. Refrigerating it will give you a nice tall loaf. bk
Wonderful =) Thanks much. So excited to try this. My starter is officially ready tonight =)
ekearns4 years ago
Doesn't that main photo look like crazy blue pillow lava?
yeah!
Asbestos gloves???!!! this frightens me...
:O
Just use a rod with a hook, your dutch oven should have a handle.
You can also build your own brick oven in your back yard, using cob construction... Great for flatbreads and pizza.
I see you are afraid of cancer, right? Asbestos gloves do not come in contact with you. it has fabric inside
t.rohner5 years ago
I love making bread, and my first sourdough was a "Hermann" i got for christmas from my sisters 5 year old son. It was in a glass jar with instructions on how to make a banana pie with it. I followed the instructions for a couple of days, then i neglected it a little bit. It started to smell like nail polish...
I then discarded most of it and started to feed it properly. (after some reading from a hobby baker, who is actually a biologist. She should know it and her results speaks it's own language... it's in german but look at the pictureshttp://www.petras-brotkasten.de/)
In the end, i didn't make a pie but a wonderful bread with "Herman".
By the way, thank you for showing my oven...
I'm more of the yeasted bread type, but i always do it with a preferment. This way i get a somewhat similar flavour from the flour with a long rest. I dont like the traditional sourdough rye breads made in our region, but i liked the SF sourdoughs very much. It's not that sour, since it's made from wheat and with the fermenting temp you can adjust the sourness. In rye breads you need the acidity to get a gas keeping capability, like you get from gluten of the wheat.

In a good sourdough culture, there should be acid tolerant yeast. The dough should rise without additional yeast. But then, there are many was to reach your wonderful results. They look really tasty. You get the stars from me...
boocat t.rohner4 years ago
That's funny. I named mine "Bob". Bob lives in a crock low in the fridge. :P
not eating it eh?
t.rohner boocat4 years ago
Well then, Bob has a "hard" time in the fridge... The optimal temp for a sourdough is closer to Florida outdoors temp. But if you have to keep it happy for a long time, it makes sense to let it go slower... After this "nail polish" smell thing, i read about sourdough in books and on the net. (What a wonderful thing the net can be...so innocent, if used by the right people, but that's another story) So every critter in a sourdough has its own temperature optimum. Mainly, these are lacto and acetic bazilli and a acid tolerant yeast. That's why it doesn't make much sense to add store-bought yeast to a sourdough.(regular baking or brewing yeast is not exactly known for it's acid tolerance) The mixture of bacterial and fungal leaveners go their own way to use as much of the given food in a dough. I left it unattended for too long. (That's where the nail polish smell came from. Actually digestion byproducts...strange smelling farts...) Sourdough has been done for millenia, and i think it will be done for some more, even if we think we don't have the time to let it work. But even in the time of multi-GHz phone chips, there are things that can't be "rushed". The bullshit, that is sold to us as bread, speaks it's own language.(Packed in plastic bags with mold retarders and keeping for weeks...yikes) Talk to your "Bob" and keep him happy by feeding him(not it, it's a living entity...) properly. Baking bread is not just loving to eat bread, it's about seeing it develop as a dough and seeing it rise in the oven. Of course, finally eating it tops it... Keep doing it.
WOW! I have not heard anyone talk about "Hermann" in over 20 years. My grandmother used to make her bread using "Hermann" as her starter. It was the sweetest bread that would within 2 or 3 days become cake-ish with sweetest smell. I would have to cut slices one to two inches thick or it would fall apart. Black forest ham and cheddar would make for the most amazing sandwich I have ever had. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, but just the mention of "Hermann" brings the smell of her kitchen flooding to my senses. Thank you for an unexpected walk down memory lane... In memory of my grandmother, I'm going to try to find some Hermann and make my own bread!
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  t.rohner5 years ago
Your hobby baker friend has gorgeous bread photos. I wish I could read German! When starters smell like the acetone of nail polish remover, I've always found that a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt puts things to right very quickly. There is a long-term feud between the acetobacter family and the lacto-bugs in yogurt.
Under links, you can find english content as well. There is some picture and video content in english as well.
Thanks so much for this instructable. I have been making sourdough bread for awhile and while it tastes good, I just couldn't seem to get the top to brown nicely without burning. Easy to follow steps. The added presentation really makes it stand out as well.
benjgvps4 years ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaTO8_KNcuo
90mp114 years ago
could you not dissolve the salt in the 3rd cup of water to ensure there are no lumps left?
nolte9194 years ago
Two questions:
Can I use my bread machine to make your sour dough bread?  I know it's not ideal, but would it work?

Would this roaster we have pictured work if I put the bread in a regular bread pan inside the roaster inside the oven?  It's pretty thin walled.

SANY2090 (Small).JPG
nolte919:  From my experience with similar recipes (not sourdough, but still), the goal is something with a lot of thermal mass (heavy, dense) so that during the brief time that you've opened the oven, your pot doesn't cool off.  Added to that, you want to do your best to ensure that the pan heats evenly, and that the lid keeps the moisture in.  All of these are things that cast iron does extremely well.

But, I still say it's worth a shot!  I like the idea of using a regular bread pan inside the roaster, but if you can do anything to keep the roaster/pan combo from cooling off too quickly that'd be good.  Sand should work pretty well - put about maybe 1/2" layer inside the roaster, place the baking pan on top, and then fill the rest of the roaster up to about 1/2 or 1" from the top of the baking pan (obviously, keeping sand out of the baking pan).  Broken pizza stones or unglazed, untreated terracotta from the hardware store could also work.  Sand is likely cheaper though.
darus674 years ago
Wow that bread looks great but it sure isn't for the impatient.
I'd forget i had something bubbling away until it started oozing across my cupboard.
zoniguana4 years ago
I have a Romertopf clay bread loaf pan, not covered.  I just tried this recipe in that and, so far, it came out just beautiful.  Puffed up nicely, and looking forward to pulling it out and sampling!
Yep!  Good bread; great crust; great crumb...  FLAVOR!!!!
Lady JayDee4 years ago
TIP:  Somebody sugested that I use the 40Watt light bulb in my closed oven (turned on without turning the oven itself on) to get a good temperature to rise dough in, without having it be too warm.  This way, they said, you don't have to watch it constantly (as in the off/on temp. controller method) and it takes as long as it takes to double in size. 

I tried it on the "starter" first.  Boy! what a big mess...all over the cookie sheet that I put my bean pot on, that I use for my starter,  I wound up throwing a lot of it out and feeding it again with fresh ingredients to get enough for bread.  It's on the countertop this time and I now have enough to make bread - finally!

My kitchen is the "open floor plan" type and quite cool.  If anybody knows another way/method to get the right temp to "rise" the dough (without a bread oven) , please share it, OK?
Lady JayDee
I found the top of my upright freezer to be an ideal place.  I just but the bread on top with a cloth cover.
For some reason, this is mildly sensuous...
meolepierce4 years ago
Hello Two Sisters!  I have fallen in love with making bread, and have been working on the sourdough thing.  I've had a starter going for about three months now, but somehow until I found your recipe, all my sourdough loaves came out without much of a sourdough flavor.  The first time I tried yours, it was great!  But I've just tried it again, and decided to bake it in small loaves, in the 'bake and give' cardboard type pans, to give away as holiday gifts - and somehow this time, not much sourdough flavor.  Not sure about the first time (when it was great) but this time, I fed my starter about 4 days before I used it - could that be it, or is there something else you - or anyone else, can think of here?  Many thanks - I think in my retirement I may just bake bread all day long and give it away!   Thanks much for this recipe!

Jimmy in Wilmington NC
Sorry, It's My Sister's, not Two Sisters!  Great Blog!

Jimmy
kasssa4 years ago
THANK YOU My Sisters Kitchen for this great post!

I've made this bread 3 times now (using half bread flour and half whole wheat flour), and it has turned out pretty good. But, after the initial 12 hour rising, the dough on top seems to be rather dry, and I never see any liquid around the edges or anywhere on the top as shown in the photos. I followed all measurements correctly. My guess is that my kitchen is much warmer than "normal" so the initial rising is done after, maybe 10 hours, or maybe more liquid needs to be added when using whole wheat flour.

Can somebody with more experience provide insight into this? As I said, the bread is pretty good, but maybe if I change something so that there is more moisture (or not wait as long) it will be even better! :-)

Thanks!
stickmop kasssa4 years ago
One thing to check is how you are measuring your flour.

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Measure-Flour/

And the addition of the whole wheat may just be making your loaves too "heavy." Whole wheat won't rise like white flour.

The bakery director at King Arthur wrote a great bread book - Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes Cookbook (Jeffrey Hamelman). He is especially good with sours.

One thing I learned from him is not to bother with buying "Alaskan" or "San Francisco" starter - your local bread will take on the flavor of your local yeast and probably won't taste much like the stuff you remember eating elsewhere.
kasssa stickmop4 years ago
Thanks, stickmop for your reply!

I think I may have been guilty of measuring the flour incorrectly. I appreciate the link to the Instructable about that! I suspect my 3 cups may have actually been closer to 4 or 4-1/2 cups, since I was scooping it from inside the bag, inadvertantly packing it.

I'll look for a copy of that book - sounds interesting! And thanks for the tip about buying 'fancy' starters. I can use the money saved to buy the book! :-)

Thanks!
stickmop kasssa4 years ago
I confess I threw out my latest batch of sourdough starter just this morning. I have better luck with the Cooks Illustrated version of the no-knead bread that was in the NY Times a while back, using some beer and vinegar for flavor. Here's a link.

The book is terrific and will really make you appreciate a good loaf of bread - there are so many variables it's a wonder anyone gets it right.
kasssa stickmop4 years ago
Thanks for the link - will look into it! :-)
stickmop kasssa4 years ago
Here's another [http://discovermagazine.com/2003/sep/featscienceof link] to a Discover Magazine article on the dispute over whether you can make "San Francisco" sourdough in Vermont. The article doesn't go into the grain, and some say that's where all the good bugs that give sourdough its flavor comes from (discounting wild yeast almost entirely).
Light-Zone4 years ago
Thanks for a great instructable! I've been making no knead sourdough for about a month now, and my second rise was not nearly as long as you indicate. I'll give your method a try!
I put mine in a 8 qt. stock pot the first time and it was goowy inside, then did it again with the lid on for 45 min and 20 with lid off and it turned out great.
this recipe failed epically for me. 450 is way too hot and all that pre-heating the pans does is ensure the bottom crust will be hard as a rock to the point that i nearly broke a good kitchen knife AND a tooth getting through it. despite the hard as a rock crust my bread is still completely raw even though i added 45 min to the cooking time. it also is not rising in the slightest despite my kitchen being 25 degrees c in the hight of summer right now. If i ever try this again it will be adding 1/2 tsp of yeast as well as lowering the temp by 100 degrees f and cooking for at least an hour and a half uncovered.
greatpanda5 years ago
Elegant solution to "oven spring" problem (aka trapping the steam so the crust doesn't get all hard and keep the bread from getting as big as it should) with the dutch oven- Peter Reinhart of Johnson & Wales (and several bread books) uses a cup of water in a preheated pan to get steam into the oven without having to cover the pan, and then uses a sprayer to mist the walls of the oven. It works really well, especially if you want to make baguettes or decorative loaves. I agree that warm bread tastes really good, but it should be mentioned that it's not actually finished baking until about 1/2 hour after it's out, so if you can stand to wait that long, it'll taste better in the long run :)
1nstru5 years ago
heating your stove takes a lot of energy - right. but:u noone keeps you from putting more than one bread into your oven, or a bread and something else. or you could only bake in winter, when the heat will not be wasted. or you use a spcial small oven. or you get your power to heat your oven with from a renewable source - water, wind, sun. there are power companies that specialise in this field. or you bake with wood. and i doubt that there are bakeries around who bake with solar power exclusively. flour has to be shipped to stores: that is right indeed. but: it does NOT have to be shipped to stores each day or even twice or three times a day. and it can be stored without cooling. bakery goods are either transported to the shop from the actual bakery daily, or even more than once a day. or the pre-made dough is delivered to and stored in the shop in an air-conditioned space (humidity, temperature) and then baked in an electric oven, which also often is not filled to the brim when turned on. and because such in-store ovens do radiate a lot of heat into the store room, some bakery-shops are even airconditioned. double and tripple energy waste!
I think you're missing Abby498's point. You said, "noone keeps you from putting more than one bread into your oven." On the other hand, what if you want to bake a really large amount of bread - dozens and dozens of loaves? Then you might want a commercial bakery oven capable of handling that kind of load. Since you're making them all at once, there's a good chance that you're expending less energy per loaf than you would be otherwise.

And once you start thinking that way, you start to think, "Well gee, maybe I could go even bigger. If I made hundreds of loaves, I could distribute them to my friends, stop them from having to turn on their ovens at all (for this purpose), and save them the trouble of having to go get the flour, butter, yeast...

There are plenty of good reasons to bake bread at home - it's delicious, it's fun, it's healthy (you can identify all the ingredients!), it's a great family activity, and it is spiritually satisfying to make food from scratch and give it to your friends and family. I'm just not sure I buy the argument that it's much better for the earth.
My Mom has an old cast iron pot and I need to find out if there is a lid with it. I started dabbling with sourdough for the last six weeks or so and am ready to "graduate" to this method. I'm a big fan of my sisters kitchen website and use many of your recipes there and have posted a few times. Thanks for being an inspiration in the kitchen!
elduderino5 years ago
Hi - I'm in New Zealand and have different (ish) spoon sizes etc - can you fill me in on the abbreviations you used for the ingrdiants. Many thanks - fingers crossed I can make this ! Thanks for posting it.
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  elduderino5 years ago
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 cup = 237 ml
3/4 cup = approx 100 grams

One handy thing about this recipe is that you can actually simply CHOOSE a unit of measurement and use that. For instance, you could choose a small container that contains ROUGHLY a cup. Use that to measure out 3 portions of water, one portion of sourdough starter and six portions of flour. Add a pinch of yeast if you want to use yeast and salt to taste. You'll probably use about 2 spoonfuls (and yes, the spoon you stir your coffee with will work.).

Sovereignty5 years ago
By far, hands-down, my favorite type of bread. I sent this link to my wife's aunt--who's an awesome baker--for our Memorial weekend cookout yesterday. Her skill combined with this recipe was out of this world. She made a second loaf following the 1:1 with whole wheat, which was also impressive.
Thanks for sharing this.
egoods5 years ago
I made my own sourdough starter, and then followed this recipe. My bread turned out awesome! What a rewarding feeling.
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My Sisters Kitchen (author)  egoods5 years ago
What a beautiful loaf of bread! Way to go! msk
leepinlarr5 years ago
my bread never turns out, yours looks great, I will give it a shot !!
mistytsim5 years ago
I just made my first loaves last night, and they turned out perfectly! This was my first time making sourdough, and I must say it was quite easy. I made one round loaf and one conventional sandwich bread shaped loaf. I noticed that the bottom crust on the round loaf turned out to be thicker than the sandwich shaped loaf. Any suggestions as to why this is? I'm in Utah, and it is still pretty cold in the house. Thank you so much for including the tip about the yeast. I would recommend maybe having a tip about how to add the yeast. Being a complete novice, I had to look this up. I don't know if others would have that same concern or not. Another recommendation I would make is adding to Steps 4-8 what the consistency "should" look like. When I was adding the first part of the water and flour, I was a little concerned that it was too watery. To the experienced bread maker, this might seem silly, but for a novice, it would be helpful. I had always been so intimidated when it came to bread making, and this recipe was very easy. I will definitely be sharing this with my friends!
ludovic5 years ago
Very nice instructable, well done!

Just a point on cooking: your Dutch oven method seems good (I've tried similar in a cast iron pan with a lid) but not everyone has one.

For myself, I prefer "freeform breads", with a thick crust: I preheat my oven to the max temperature and use a tray with ice cubes: check the receipe on my blog http://richmondtransits.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-no-knead-sourdough-bread.html
highwaykind5 years ago
Could you (or someone else) maybe add a few notes on what the consistency of the dough should be like? I'm at step 7 and 8 now, and I'm not sure if I put in too much flour. I had it too the point where I could form a solid ball of dough and it would stay in shape. I now added more water and I can "pull peaks" when I stick a spoon in and pull the spoon out - the peaks will very slowly disappear. Kinda like when you shampoo baby hair and make it look goofy. Do I need to add more water to make it more like thick pudding where the surface will be level and I can't make peaks? (at least I'm guessing pancake batter is way too thin a consistency so it should be somewhere in between pancake and 'pie bottom solid'?)
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  highwaykind5 years ago
The flour to water ratio that you end up with will affect the texture of the bread when it's baked. If you want large, loose holes with clear gluten development, make the dough a little wetter. If you want a finer, denser texture, add a little more flour. I personally prefer a slacker (wetter) dough. If I ended up with a ball of dough that help its shape as a solid ball, I would think to myself that I should add a little less flour next time. I like your description of "pulling peaks." That would be the texture I'd shoot for. Remember, though, that this is a personal taste sort of thing. Experiment to figure out which texture YOU like better. Good luck!
#1 - great taste, but FAIL. One soggy non-cooked flat mess. On to attempt #2 where I'll let the dough rise IN the pan before I shove it in the oven, and I'll put a lid on it as instructed (don't have a lid, but do have another pan to put upside down on top).
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  highwaykind5 years ago
One thing that my sister-in-law does is put a sheet of baking parchment in the bowl. After the second rise is completed, she just lifts the parchment with the dough on it and sets it into the preheated pan. You could try that for the transferring issue.
Thank you very much! For this first one I'm going for anything "not rock solid" texture-wise. I've got it to a 'pulling peaks' texture now, and it's already slightly bubbly so I think it's still going good. Since I like slightly denser bread more than a fluffy one (I've been eating spelt sourdough for years, just never made a bread myself) I won't add anymore water now. One more day till baking time! I split my starter in half in stead of throwing half away, so if all goes south I can easily start again.
cornboy35 years ago
Geez. Don't you know it is the Breadverse, not the Bread Universe
I just made a great loaf of sourdough!
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huskerbabe5 years ago
I made this bread and it's wonderful! I make approximately 6-7 loaves of bread a week. This is one of our faves!
YChai5 years ago
I have been the recipient of one of your delicious and super-sized loaves. I can verify that it is quite as awesome as your photos. I had no hope, until reading this step-by-step tutorial, that I could also bake an impressive (and delicious) loaf. I just might get started today!
skyegod5 years ago
Hi - THANK YOU!!!! I have been trying to make nice light and fluffy Sourdough for the last 2 years. Super instructable - plenty of pictures, and very clear explanation. I now know that part of my problems where having a too stiff dough. This recipe really made a very pleasant loaf that we will absolutely enjoy. My starter is super active, and so I may try without the yeast next time.
5-10-09-Sourdough 002.jpg5-10-09-Sourdough 004.jpg
lotusduck5 years ago
You're using distilled water, right? Tap water has fluoride, and when I've accidentally used it instead of distilled it has had a really negative impact on my sourdough, although I don't use packaged yeast, instead I feed my starter some honey to boost it.
My Sisters Kitchen (author)  lotusduck5 years ago
Some tap water has naturally-occurring fluoride in it. I haven't found that to be a problem. Tap water that's too heavily chlorinated is a REAL problem. Fortunately, the places that I make sourdough have well-water that seems to really agree with my starter. If the starter isn't working out, it's definitely worth paying attention to the water you use.
Not everyone has fluoride in their tap water. Be careful of water that's heavily chlorinated 2
highwaykind5 years ago
I've got my first starter going for 4 days now, so far so good. Bubbly, sour smelling, no mold or pink/orange stuff. Will start on my first bread this afternoon and let it rise overnight, bake tomorrow or the day after (if I put it in the fridge). Great Instructable, thanks!
dalecarlile5 years ago
I have purchased starters from www.sourdo.com. I really like their South African one for whole wheat. I have the process down to 10 minutes prep in the morning to mix a batch and then about 10 minutes in the evening to work it into loaves to be baked the next morning. Try adding starter to things like oatmeal cookies . . . YUM
bobba5 years ago
Don't bother with the shop bought yeast, it tends to dominate the sourdough flavour. Just use the starter and wait a little longer for the proofs. Some starters have been around for hundreds of years!
brainmedley5 years ago
Another good source for a starter is to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Friends of Carlhttp://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/, it worked well for me and makes unbelievably good bread.
For 'Step 10', rather than using non-stick spray you could fill a spray bottle with olive oil and get the same results.
My Sisters Kitchen (author) 5 years ago
Very good point, Gandlof5. I added information on replenishing your starter to step 4. There IS a lot of information in the links I provided in Step 3. In particular, my blog posts at:

http://mysisterskitchen.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/the-care-and-feeding-of-sourdough/
http://mysisterskitchen.wordpress.com/2007/04/19/what-not-to-do-with-sourdough/

both contain a lot of information about starter.

And I WILL admit that when I'm making sourdough daily, I really don't need any commercial yeast at all. When people are first starting out, however, their kitchens are often TOO clean and need a little extra oomph to kick things off.

Barb

If you have live sourdough starter, then you already have yeast whether your kitchen is "TOO clean" or not. If the sourdough starter doesn't have yeast then it's not yet sourdough starter and you shouldn't yet be using it to make bread. If it doesn't bubble and grow it's not ready for making bread. I started my starter with 1c milk, 2Tbsp yogurt. Let that sit out for 24h then added 1/2c milk, 1/2c flour. I've heard that rye flour for the initial feeding will assist in the bacteria/yeast boost, but additional feedings you can use regular unbleached flour. The milk is warmed to around 90 degrees (F) for each feeding. Initially you'll be feeding every 8 hours. If you have too much starter, through some out and add the milk and flour. Once you notice your starter bubbles and rises your starter is ready to cook with. If you'd like to store your starter, seal it and put it in the fridge. When you're ready to bake more loaves, pull the starter out of the fridge, let it warm up to room temp (about 8 hours), add milk and flour, wait another 8 hours (till it starts bubbling and rising) then use as normal.
Actually, another thought on the yeast... With just sourdough starter (no added yeast) the initial rise is between 5 and 9 hours. Second rise is around 4-6 hours. I guess if you added yeast the rise would be faster, but I wonder how it would affect the taste.
Paulla5 years ago
I've used this recipe many times and it is ALWAYS delicious and ALWAYS a hit. Good job!
ala Laurie5 years ago
Thanx 4 referring me here from ur blog. This is a gr8 how-to and i think i can make this bread! I like the rest of the sight 2. U explain things very clearly.
BeulahK5 years ago
Just made my second loaf - even better than the first which was pretty impressive. Thank you very much for your clear and entertaining directions.
I came here from your blog. This is a great set of instructions with beautiful photos. Thanks for introducing me to Instructables too. I didn't even know that this place existed. I'll spend a lot of time here!
you will love this book. you can get it for around 5 bucks at borders. it is adobe oven for old world breads by charel scheele. this book gives you step by step directions on how to make a bread oven outdoors!! I cant wait until we have one!!!!!!!!! there are recipes as well.
Myrdydd5 years ago
Ooooh.. drat, now I'm hungry! ;) Fav'd! :D Bravo for the clear 'ible and yummy pictures!
1nstru5 years ago
oh, and about the "employment" thing: the money you save, is money you can use to support jobs you deem worthy supporting. you could use that money to buy trousers from american appearal instead of the gap, or buy the slightly more expensive flour that your friendly bio-farmer neighbour produces instead of the supermarket flour. or you could use that money to buy green power and probably have something left over. "not buying from a bakery destroys jobs" is correct ONLY if you save that money by putting it in your mattress. but since you are likely to spend the money, and probably spend it wise on non-mass-produced, green, bio products, you are not only NOT killing jobs, you are supporting high-quality jobs. and help the environment and help yourself to better quality products.
piperjon5 years ago
Incredible Instructible, and Barb, you are AWESOME. If I lived near you, I would help make that outdoor bread oven dream come true, and you can bet I would be on the list of people using it, too. Now I'm all hungry!
Abby4985 years ago
I suspect people already drive to the store to buy the flour, etc.. Heating our stove takes a lot of energy. Making more bread per stove space saves energy per loaf of bread - commercial manufacturing. Some ppl even believe it helps the economy by employing more ppl. Flour, etc. has to be shipped to stores. *We know exactly what's IN our bread because we've made it by hand. There are no additives or funky unnatural ingredients. - agreed! *Every step of the breadmaking process is done by hand. We don't use mixers or blenders or any power-consuming appliances. - agreed.
Berkin5 years ago
Awesome work. My mouth is starting to water...
kelleyboys45 years ago
Great job on this instructable! I need to start doing this.
Then who would make the chili?! :P
matthewabel5 years ago
I just wrecked my starter - don't want to speak about it (sniff). The best thing for me with sourdough is how the flavor of the starter improves with age. I like to do a super slow rise in the fridge if I'm not busy for a few days.
gandlof55 years ago
Good job. I never use Yeast. Sour dough starter is a wild yeast culture. Also you did not mention how to keep your starter going. I add 2c water 2.5c flour and let that go a couple of hours. Them save a cup out for starter before you go on. I also put a couple of cups( in separate freezer bags) in the freezer in case my starter goes bad, or I forget to save some back. It will last at least a year in the freezer, though it might take a little longer to start bubbling.
KentsOkay5 years ago
I am a HUGE sourdough fan. I simply must make this :D Excellent Ible, great pics!
bustedit5 years ago
very nice, but eating all that bread will go right to your hips
gmjhowe5 years ago
haha! great work!
rachel5 years ago
That looks DELICIOUS! I used to make bread (but not sourdough). You may just have inspired me to start up again.
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