Sourdough bread..letting nature do the work

Sourdough bread..letting nature do the work

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

Can You believe I forgot the reveal date? That is how crazy things have been around here lately. We shifted from me being sick to the kids being sick to a crazy week at work and I lost track of time! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the calender this morning..Oh my GOD! I totally forgot about the reveal!

I made 3 loaves, two french country bread using the challenge recipe and one no knead bread using a recipe I found through foodgawker. The french country bread was dense and flavorful but it was really demanding to make. I found the no knead bread easier and it provided better crumb.

The second part of our challenge was to use up the sourdough we have made.I cut the french country loaf into slices and served it with olive oil and zaatar when it was hot out of the oven and it was really good. Dense and rustic and really full of flavor.The no knead bread I cut into slices and served with banana chocolate cardamom jam and some strawberry and kiwi slices.

Jessica thank you so so much for one of the most interesting and challenging months on the daring bakers

Sourdough to put it simply is bread made the way people used to make it before the age of pakaged yeast. It is basically a process of mixing water and flour to form a starter that you then feed to culture the natural yeast that is in the flour, that yeast once active and alive provides the rise for your bread or a variety of baked goods.The more your read about sourdough the more you see the science behind it all. The recipe Jessica provided and many others ask for starting with whole grain rye or wheat flour and the reason behind that  is the fact that when you use whole grain rye or wheat flour, the flour is covered with a LOT of microorganisms. We’re interested in two of them, yeast and lactobacillus bacteria. When we mix flour and water, and keep adding more flour and water we are encouraging the critters that we want to take over the starter. By creating a hospitable environment, the critters we want will inevitably take over the culture. However,there will still be unwanted microorganisms. As long as you keep the conditions in your starter favorable, the unwanted critters will be kept under control. But, if you stop treating the starter right the unwanted critters can take over. So starting a starter is something that requires dedication and patience.

I was surprised to find out that there are bakeries that have starters that are hundreds of years old. Many of my fellow daring bakers have starters that are years old, starters they have fed and taken care of for years and they even give them names. A fact that may seem crazy at first but when you made a starter and watch it “come to life” you kind of understand. Strange as it may seem, taking care of a starter is kind of like taking care of a child, you have to feed it and watch over it and you keep questioning yourself if you are doing the right thing for it!


  • Jessica thank you so so much for one of the most interesting and challenging months on the daring bakers
  • Maintaining your starter
  • Feeding
  • Each feeding should be equal amounts of water and flour, by weight. You can use about 2 parts of water to 3 parts of flour by volume as an approximation.
  • Each feeding of the starter should be enough to double its size but if you keep doubling the size of your starter, in 10 days you’ll have enough to fill a swimming pool. And 12 hours later, you’ll have enough to fill two swimming pools. So, before you feed the starter, take half of your starter and set it aside. You may discard it, or you may save it for other projects like making biscuits, pancakes, cakes, pizza shells. But even throwing it away is less wasteful than continuing to double the size of your starter
  • Temperature
  • Remember, people have been making sourdough since long before temperature control was as easy as it is today. So, it might be important, but it’s not the end of the world. In broad terms, you want to stay within the 65 to 85F range (18 to 30C). If you get much below that range, things will take far too long to happen. Above that range, you get into off tastes and organisms dying off.
  • Storing your starter
  • when can you optimally refrigerate a starter? The starter should be at least 30 days old, having been fed twice a day the entire time. It should be able to make bread you like – why store a starter that isn’t working for you? A starter you get from a vendor, friend or other source is already more than 30 days old, the 30 days just refers to starters you have started. Next, the starter should be able to double it’s size between feedings. If it’s not healthy, it’s not a good idea to refrigerate it. And finally, the best time to refrigerate the starter is when it is freshly fed. So, feed your starter until it will double in size between feedings, feed it one more time and then refrigerate it.
  • French Country Bread
  • Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking
  • Wheat Starter – Day 1:
  • Ingredients
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  • Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
Read the whole recipe on Chef in disguise