Sour Dough Bread Questions/Tips

(Joy) Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

I had a great starter for over 15 years and lost it several years ago when we moved to the new farm. Just recently I have gotten another one going and have been using it off and on to make some no knead breads. I seem to have forgotten how to make a loaf fluffy rather than dense, and would welcome a discussion on sourdough baking from this group of experienced bakers. I made a cranberry walnut cinnamon bread and a garlic cheese bread in my last two sets. Both are great but heavy loaves.
My starter is a basic one, rye, whole wheat and white flour, yeast and water. I am keeping it in the fridge right now since I don't have time and don't need to bake every day. I read the bread topic y'all had going through the summer, but not much was said about anyone baking with sourdough. I did the whole Herman thing years ago and still have those recipes, but lets talk real sourdough.
Anyone make their own starter with wild yeast?

Thumbnail by rouxcrew
(Joy) Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

This is the starter I made 20 years ago, there are many variations from strictly flour, water, yeast, to sugar, potato water etc. My new starter is the below without sugar or salt. I have since added a little bit of sugar to the starter. I do keep mine in the refrigerator since I don't bake every day. If you leave it out at room temperature, you will need to feed it more often and will soon have way too much.


2 c. plain flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 env. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 c. warm water, 105-115 degrees

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Gradually
stir in the water. Beat or whisk until smooth. Cover with a
towel. Set in warm, 80 to 85 degree, draft free place. Stir
2 or 3 times daily for about 3 days, or until starter is
bubbly and produces a yeasty aroma. Transfer to a large
bowl, large jar or plastic container. Cover partially. Tilt
the lid or punch holes in the top. Refrigerate. Makes about
1 1/2 to 2 cups of starter. Starter should be taken out of
refrigerator and fed again after 3 to 5 days. After
feeding, keep warm for 8 to 12 hours, then use 1 or 2 cups
of starter to make bread or other recipe. Cover and feed
again in 3 to 5 days. Feed starter 2 or 3 times before
giving starts to others.

(Joy) Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)


3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. plain flour
3 tbsp. instant dry potatoes
1 c. warm water

Mix well and add to starter. Leave out of refrigerator, covered 8 to 12 hours. This will not rise, only bubble.

When you use starter to bake, always replace with equal amounts of a flour and water mixture with a pinch of sugar. So, if you remove 1 cup starter, replace with 1 cup water and 1 cup flour. Mix well and leave out on the counter until bubbly again, then refrigerate. If a clear to light brown liquid has accumulated on top, don't worry, this is an alcohol base liquid that occurs with fermentation. Just stir this back into the starter, the alcohol bakes off and that wonderful sourdough flavor remains! Sourdough starters improve with age, they used to be passed down generation to generation!

This message was edited Feb 11, 2012 5:04 PM

(Joy) Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

Basic sourdough bread uses 1 cup starter, 1 cup liquid, 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt for a loaf. You can get real inventive using garlic, cheese, herbs, onions, olives, etc. to enhance your bread. Here is the recipe from 20 years ago, note the corn oil. How times have changed


In a large bowl, make a stiff batter of the following:

1/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. warm water
1 c. starter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. corn oil
3 c. plain flour

Grease bowl, put in dough and turn over. Let rise 8 to 12
hours. Cover lightly with foil, not in refrigerator. Divide
dough into 2 parts and knead each part on a floured board a
few times. Put into individual greased pans and brush tops
with corn oil. Cover lightly and let rise 4 to 5 hours or
even all day. It rises slowly. Bake on bottom rack at 350
degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with
melted butter and cool on rack.

Here is my recent recipe

Produces one 1 pound loaf
1 cup fully active culture of your choice from the culture proof
3 cups (440 grams) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 cup water
1 teaspoons salt

The Culture Proof

Mix 1 cup of the fully active culture with 1 cup of flour and sufficient water to from a thick pancake batter consistency and proof it for 6 to 8 hours at 65-70oF if you prefer a mild flavor or at 75-85oF if you want it more sour.

The Dough Proof

In a large bowl briefly mix the flour, culture, water and salt. The consistency should be firm and shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and proof over night ( 10-12 hours) at room temperature (65-70oF) for a mild flavor or at 75-80oF in a proofing box for a more sour flavor.
After fermenting this is a very sticky dough. Use a plastic spatula to ease it to a lightly floured board and sprinkle the surface with additional flour. Let it rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
With minimal handling and slightly more flour form a ball and transfer it to the baking container: any small covered pot works but avoid willow baskets since the sticky dough may be difficult to remove. It is a good idea to lightly grease the container to prevent sticking.

The Loaf Proof

The dough can be proofed at either room temperature or at 75-80oF until it has about doubled in volume or risen above the container wall.


Place in a cool oven, set the control for 375oF, turn the oven on and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Thanks for this; we 'might' use it. :)

New Haven, CT

Looks like awesome, we can try for it...

This message was edited Mar 14, 2012 6:28 AM

New York, NY(Zone 6b)

Will be trying sourdough bread recipe for the first time in the fall when the oven is in use again. Have you ever made sourdough cinnamon buns with your starter?. Thanks.

(Joy) Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes I have, they were a little heavy for my liking although everyone else thought they were grand. I am still working on the trick that gets me a really "fluffy" loaf. I do find that the wheat and rye flours tend to make the bread a little dense compared to a white bread. I am sure there are some here who can tell me the secret. I will look up my sourdough cinnamon bun recipe and post it for you. Right now I need to get back out and finish the farm chores.


New York, NY(Zone 6b)

Thank you So much.

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