Monday, February 15, 2010

Homemade Sourdough: Starter and Bread

DD have been buying "When Pigs Fly" sourdough bread lately -- When Pigs Fly bakery is regionally located in the northeast, and they make some of the yummiest and most healthful bread there is. You CAN order it online if you're interested.

In any case, while their bread is fantastic, it doesn't come cheap (what truly good thing does?) So DD and I decided to try to make our own.

First... you need starter. And IT needs about 5 days or so to get really good and ready. There are many options for making sourdough starter, but I chose the simplest:

1 cup milk
1 cup flour (I used oat -- whole grain but white)

Mix together in a container that isn't metal and let sit out for about 5 days, until it's got a good "sour" smell... you can't put a lid on this or it will explode as it ferments. I put mine in a glass jar with a cloth over the top, stirring it once a day.

Edited to add: After your starter is "sour", you can cap it and store in your fridge. If you don't use it after a couple of weeks, scoop a little out and add new flour and milk, and leave out to ferment again.

Once you have your starter, you're ready to make bread.

Here's the recipe I used:


Combine and set aside until bubbly (do not stir):
1 1/2 c warm water (about 105 degrees)
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast

Mix and stir for 3 minutes with the above mixture - let set until double in bulk:
1 c sourdough starter
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt


1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix until satiny

Shape into 2 oblong loaves and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Just before baking, brush with water or egg whites.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 - 40 mins

I made a few changes -- the biggest being that I substituted unbleached white flour for half the whole wheat flour so I'd have a little more "fluff" to my bread.

Gather your ingredients and tools:

Proof your yeast (yeast in warm water):

Mix your starter into the yeast and add other ingredients (sugar, flour, etc):

Next, knead your bread a bit until all the flour is mixed in. I don't have a pictures, because DH came by to chat while I was working, and I plumb forgot!

Then shape into loaves and put on the cookie sheet:

Cover and let rise (about an hour, if your house is warm):

When they're HUGE, brush with water:

Put in the oven:

With a pan of water for a crunchier "french bread" crust:


When they're done, brush the tops with a bit of butter:

Then immediately cut into them

and eat because nothing tastes quite as good as fresh baked bread...

DD ate three pieces... it was lunch for her that day.

In conclusion: The bread *tasted* fabulous. It was still a little heavy, but the flavor was perfect. Next time, though, I'll probably use bread pans so they'll rise UP instead of OUT -- these loaves got fatter, not taller.

But this is a definitely make recipe. We'll be having this quite often, I suspect. It's my favorite homemade bread yet.



  1. Do you know if it matters whether it's whole milk or reconstituted milk? I normally only keep dry milk in the house, but I would dearly love to try sour dough bread.

    Thanks for posting this! I can smell it from here. :o)

  2. Maria, I don't imagine it would make a difference... I've already remade my starter, or I'd give it a try. I say go for it.

  3. PS. It also makes really yummy sourdough pancakes. :-)