October 28, 2016

Sourdough Bread Project

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Bread making is good skill to have; I’d already made an artisan bread, and regularly make sandwich bread in the bread machine so I wanted to branch out.

An established sourdough starter can last for years and years, and can be passed from generation to generation.  In the old days, people even packed sourdough starter with them when they traveled, to avoid having to buy yeast.  However, since I don’t know anyone nearby who has tried this, I purchased my San Francisco sourdough bread starter from Amazon.

San Francisco Sourdough starter
San Francisco Sourdough starter

The packet contained dehydrated sourdough starter.  The instructions stated it needed to be activated by adding the the contents to a one quart wide mouth jar –  I used a large recycled glass jar.

Still following directions, I then added 1/4 cup water, plus 1/4 cup flour and stirred, making sure to add a lot of air into the mixture.  Then, I used a coffee filter with a rubber band around it as a cover.

Jar of sourdough starter on counter (1)
Jar of sourdough starter, covered with a coffee filter

Directions said to leave it alone in a warm area for 12-18 hours.  I left it inside the oven with the light turned on.

After 12 hours I repeated the process by adding 1/2 water and 1/2 cup of flour, mixing well and allowing air into the mixture.  Once again, I left it inside the oven with the light turned on.  This time, I placed a paper towel underneath, in case it bubbled over.

After another 12 hours, the directions said to discard all but 1/2 cup of the mixture, but add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour all over again.  The discarded mixture can be used to make pancakes.

Growing Sourdough starter
Growing Sourdough starter

The goal is to keep the process going until the sourdough mixture keep growing until it looks light and bubbly.  It took about three days of repeating this process before it looked “light and bubbly” to me.

Jar of sourdough starter on counter (2)
Sourdough starter is getting bubbly

More and more bubbles appeared as the days passed.  The mixture also kept increasing.  It had a pleasant, faintly yeasty smell.   Extra starter can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for use later.  I had plenty.  But once refrigerated, before you can use it, it has to be left at room temperature and mixed with water and flour to get bubbly all over again.

When I made the bread, I followed the instructions by adding fresh sourdough starter to flour, water and salt.  Then you had to leave the dough to rise for 4-24 hours.  At this time I was starting get impatient.  This sure takes a lot of time!  I did exactly that but there was a problem.  The dough did not rise to bread size.  I baked it anyway and it came out flat and hard.  But I was not ready to give up.

I checked online for an easier recipe that can be used in a bread machine.  I found one in the King Arthur flour website.  The difference is, you had to add yeast, while “real” sourdough breads should not require yeast.

I just wanted to see if I can make a loaf with a sourdough taste so I tried the King Arthur flour sourdough bread recipe

It worked and the resulting bread was very tasty, with a mild sourdough taste.  I admit I “cheated” a bit, but I was pretty pleased with the result.   It had the right amount of crust, and a fluffy texture on the inside.

Sourdough breadmachine breadUnfortunately for my sourdough starter, after a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, the mixture started to looking brackish and had a metallic odor.  I ended up throwing it away, but at least I got one good bread loaf out of it.  I’ll have to order another starter soon so I can try it again.

© Apartment Prepper 2013


June Sales

10 Comments on Sourdough Bread Project

  1. I always love reading your blog. It makes me think. However, this one about sourdough made me fondly remember Herman. Herman was a sourdough that was really popular when I was in my twenties. We all had Herman in our fridges, we all fed Herman, we all traded Herman recipes. Herman was darn good and could be used in almost anything. You can still find recipes for it on the internet, and Amazon does have a book about it called Best Of Herman Sourdough Herald. It’s not the book I had back then, but Herman is awesome. You should give it a try.

    • Hey Linda, I need to meet this “Herman!” He sounds awesome 🙂 I am going to find the recipe and give it a shot. Thanks for telling me about Herman sourdough!

  2. We make quick “sour-dough” by adding a little vinegar and a little sugar to the dough. When we want real sour-dough we make the dough really moist and leave it on the counter for several days. Each day we add some flour and water and knead it for a bit, then stick it back into the bowl. After a few days it gets sour. Even then, we will usually add a touch of vinegar.

    • Hi Whatifitstoday, Never heard of this before – Will have to try the vinegar trick. I like a good shortcut! I’ve picked up some good ones from you– Thanks!

  3. I keep starter in my fridge and I have had it for a couple of years now. I bake bread every week. I stir the starter every day and once a week I stir in a little honey to feed it. When I use the starter to make bread I add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour to replace what was used. If I don’t stir for a day or two it will get a dark watery substance on top. I just stir it back in and it is fine. If I don’t stir it for a long period of time it gets pretty nasty. I did throw it away once because of ignoring it for too long. I have never tried making bread with just the starter alone. I always add dried yeast. I always set the starter out the night before I bake bread. All the best too you in your bread adventures.

    • Hi Brenda, That’s what happened, I ignored it in the fridge for a while, and it got all gross. Thanks for telling me about leaving it out the night before. I appreciate the comment.

  4. I’ve had my sourdough started for about 7 years now. I purchased it from King Arthur Flour. I will neglect it horribly and I will stir it to combine everything, some times I will pour off the black watery alcohol. I’ve given several friends the starter. I’m glad I did. I had to throw out it out once due to contamination. It had started turning lovely colors such as pink & blue. THis is a bacterial contamination and will get you sick if you bake with it. I was able to get a batch of the starter back from a friend I had given it to.

    I make cake (chocolate & carrot), bread (with and without extra yeast), pancakes, waffles, muffins with this starter. My DH who hates San Fransisco Sourdough will devour the bread I make as it has a light more delicate sourdough flavor.

    • Hi Jen, I did not know you can make cakes from sourdough starter-clearly I have a lot to learn on this subject! I will check out King Arthur flour starter. Thanks for the tips!

  5. The starter was supposed to get natural yeast from the air. I have made starter by leaving flour and water by an open window. Last time I used a pack of yeast and it took about 2 weeks to get the really good sour flavor.

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