How to make sourdough bread in a few easy steps



This guest post by Oldguy52 and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

Some of the Wolfpack have expressed an interest in learning my sourdough bread recipe. Since it is a little long to just put in a thread reply, I thought I would ask M.D. If it would be OK to post it as an article on his blog. He has graciously consented, so here is a short story about how an old truck driver ends up a sourdough bread baker and some hopefully easy to follow instructions so anybody that wants to can do it too.

In the summer of ’06 my bride had a very serious stroke that led to both of our retirements. Her’s because she is now pretty severely physically disabled and has mostly lost the ability to communicate normally. Mine because she needed someone to be around to look after her most of the time. I pretty much instantly became the chief cook and bottle washer around our house. Nobody who knows me would have ever predicted this, but here we are.

After selling our business, suddenly after years of working usually more than one job and sometimes more than two, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. This led to finding places like this blog and a few others that got me interested in prepping for what many of us see coming…. Darker days ahead.

With that in the back of my mind I got to thinking it might be good to be able to make my own bread. So, knowing nothing at all about bread making except it looked like a lot of work, I started with a book titled Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which you can get on Amazon if you want, and started making their basic bread recipe. After making this very simple bread for a while I got to thinking some more and realized that if things got bad, I’d not be able to go to the store and get things like yeast, so I began to look into how to make my bread without needing active dry, or instant yeast from the grocery store. This led me to thinking about sourdough, the original ancient way of leavening bread.

About that time, about March of ’09 if I remember correctly, we went to visit a good friend of ours in another town and she offered us a batch of starter for something called Amish Friendship Bread. Having read a bit about sourdough starters already, but not having actually made one yet, I realized that this was pretty much the same thing I had been seeing in the sourdough articles I’d been reading. I wasn’t particularly interested in making the Amish Friendship Bread which is more like a dessert bread, but I thought I might be able to make this work in place of the store bought yeast I had been using up until then in my bread.

The rest as they say is history. The Amish Friendship Bread starter combined with the rest of the recipe I had been using makes a quite heavy, crusty loaf with a moist custardy crumb. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I have been very pleased with how this has worked out.

So, enough about me. On to the bread-making….

Oldguy 52′s, Easy Sourdough Bread

Let me first say, I came up with this recipe by combining parts of two other recipes almost three years ago. I haven’t bought any store-bought bread in all that time since, unless we have been away from home for more than a few days. Sourdough bread is not only good tasting and very satisfying, it is good for you. Here’s a link to an article that explains.

www.danreid.org/health-alerts-sour-dough-health.asp

With that said, we’ll start with, the Starter…..

It is important that you use no metal utensils or mixing bowls to make this mixture as the reaction with metal will kill the bacteria that make the fermentation process work.

The starter makes that nice sourdough flavor, but most importantly, in this recipe, it replaces the store bought yeast in your bread.

Day 1

In a 1 gallon zip-lock freezer bag put 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour, one cup sugar, one cup milk. Goosh it around in the bag ’til it’s mostly mixed. I stirred mine up in a big measuring cup and dumped it in the bag. Some small lumps won’t matter. Zip it up and leave it on the counter.

Day 2

Look for bubbling. Goosh the mixture around in the bag. It probably won’t be bubbling much yet. Leave it out on the counter.

Day 3

Look for bubbling. It’s probably starting pretty good by now. If so, let the gas out and goosh the bag. Leave it out on the counter.

Day 4

It should be bubbling pretty well. Let the gas out and goosh the bag

Day 5

Let the gas out, goosh the bag.

Day 6

Time to feed the starter again. Just like before, add one cup unbleached all purpose flour, one cup sugar and one cup milk. Close the bag up and goosh it around.

Day 7

Let the gas out, goosh the bag. It should be making lots of gas now.

Day 8

Your starter should be ready to use in a batch of bread dough now.

What you have basically done is start a fermentation process, similar to, for example, wine making. Now, when you make a batch of bread dough, the gas created by the fermentation can replace the gas normally created by the yeast in your bread recipe to raise your bread dough.

Once I got to this point, I bought a 32 oz. ceramic crock with a loose fitting cover for my sour dough stater to make it’s home in. I got my crock from King Arthur Flour Company on line for about 22 bucks, but you can use any ceramic, glass or plastic container with a loose fitting lid that will hold at least twice the starter you need for a batch. Once you have the process going well, you can begin storing the starter in your refrigerator. This slows the fermentation process and means the starter will not need to be fed as often. After my starter got going good and I transferred it to it’s home in the crock, I cut the sugar for the starter’s food in half. I feed the starter every time I make a loaf, so since my dough batches are two loaves, my starter gets 1/3 C flour, 1/3 C milk and 1/6 C (half of 1/3 C) sugar, every time I bake. With this amount of food the starter is always about twice as much as I will need to make a batch of dough. If you need a little more just kick it up to ½ C, ½ C and ¼ C when you need to.

On to the bread…..

You want to feed the starter enough so that you will always have about twice as much starter as you will use to make the batch of dough you are going to make on baking day. The part of the starter that you don’t use will go back in the refrigerator to rest after you feed it, until you are ready to make your next batch of dough. The starter should have been all foamy and bubbly looking in the crock before you added and stirred in the new ingredients. If it’s bubbling well, you know it’s working OK. If it’s going to be more than a week between making batches of dough, you may want to feed your starter in between baking days, maybe every fifth day or so, to keep it going strong.

The recipe for the actual bread dough is:

  • 12 oz. warm (not hot) water.
  • 1 cup of sour dough starter
  • 1 Tbsp kosher (course) salt

23 oz flour – My flour mixture is 1 part Dakota Maid, whole wheat flour and 2 parts Dakota Maid, unbleached all purpose flour which is premixed in a big stainless steel stock pot. I like some whole wheat in my bread, but you can use all white (unbleached, all purpose) flour if you like. I use Dakota Maid brand flour, but any other brand should work fine. I use a scale to measure my flour, but if you don’t have one, using the scoop and sweep method 23 ounces will be about 4 cups of flour.

I have a plastic mixing bowl that holds about 5 quarts to mix and store my bread dough.

Pour the warm water in the bowl. Add one cup of your sourdough starter and the Tbsp of salt. Stir it a bit to blend. Now add your flour in all at once and begin to mix. I have a bamboo spoon/spatula sort of thing I like to use. Remember, no metal bowls or mixing utensils. The dough will seem very dry at first and you might question whether it will whet out, but be patient. In a couple minutes it will begin to look like a ball of fairly stiff dough. Once you have mixed it until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and it looks uniformly wet, you are done. It should be stiff enough to stand in a ball in the bottom of your bowl. If it spreads out, it’s too wet, work in a bit more flour. You now have enough dough for 2, approximately 1 pound + loaves of bread. Mine weigh in about 1 lb. 5 oz.

Set the bowl of dough somewhere warm, cover it loosely (I just use a sandwich plate on top of my bowl) and leave it sit for 4 to 8 hours to raise. Mine usually takes at least 6. Normally, using ordinary active dry or instant yeast, your dough would raise in a couple hours. The sour dough is slower, but will eventually raise your dough to about twice or a little more the size it was when you started. Once your dough has doubled, you can place your covered bowl of dough in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours. Over night is better. The next morning, you are ready to bake if you want.

Baking Day – Things you will need:

A pizza peel, a baking (pizza) stone, a large flat pan like a broiler pan or a pie pan, a cooling rack, a serrated knife to cut off your hunk of dough, flour and, if you like, cornmeal. If you are using all white flour, the cornmeal is nice on your peel. It is much courser than the flour so your loaf will slide off easier without sticking. If you are using some whole wheat in your flour mixture, the whole wheat is more course than the white flour, so the loaf sticking to the peel is rarely a problem.

Set your pizza peel on the counter. Take a small handful of flour or cornmeal and sprinkle it liberally on the pizza peel near the tapered end. Get your bowl of dough from the refrigerator, take your serrated knife and cut the dough in the bowl in half. Dust a little flour on the half you are going to remove and pull it out of the bowl. Sprinkle more flour on your loaf as you form it into a ball shape, it’ll end up about the size of a grapefruit.

Holding the dough in one hand you will pull the dough to the bottom of the ball, turn the ball 90 degrees and pull the dough down under the ball again and again sprinkling a little more flour as you go until the ball starts to get kind of a smooth “skin” on the top side. This is called cloaking the loaf and shouldn’t take more than a minute or so.

Once the ball is fairly smooth and firm enough to hold it’s shape you can set the ball of dough down on the flour or cornmeal you placed on the pizza peel right near the front edge. I like to set my oven to 150 and then set the pizza peel and dough on the stove top to rest for 40 minutes. Longer is OK, but more than an hour or so and the skin will begin to toughen making slashing more difficult. Put your cover back on your bowl and remaining dough and put it back in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake your next loaf.

Once the dough has been resting for 30 minutes, turn your oven up to 400 to preheat for ten minutes or so. By the time it’s hot, your dough will have rested for 40 minutes. Take a large flat pan, I use a pie pan, and put 8 ounces (1 C) of water in it. Place the pan and water on a rack high enough in the oven so it will not interfere with your loaf as it raises while it bakes. Now take a sharp (!) knife and slash your loaf about ¼ inch deep.

You will learn to control the shape of your finished loaf by how you slash it before putting it in to bake. I like to make five slashes, one on each end and three in the middle, all going the same direction. Once you have slashed the loaf, grab the handle of the pizza peel and with a flick of your wrist, slide the loaf onto the baking stone which should be on one of the lower racks (mine is second from the bottom) in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes at 400. When done take a large spatula, remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. It will take about an hour for the bread to cool enough to firm up and cut nicely.

At our house there are only two of us, so we don’t eat a lot of bread. I usually bake a loaf every two or three days and make a batch of dough every other time. If you are feeding more folks you should be able to easily double the recipe. If you need less, cut it in half and only make enough for one loaf at a time. You may need to adjust your flour a bit to get the right consistency, but this is not difficult. The dough will keep in your refrigerator. I have stored mine for as long as seven days and used it without any problem.

When I make up my second loaf of a two loaf batch, while it is resting prior to baking I add my 12 oz of warm water right back into the bowl, scrape any dough that may have stuck to the sides from the last batch back down into the water, add in my other ingredients, stir it up, cover the bowl and set it out to start raising while my other loaf is resting and then baking. No need to worry about cleaning the bowl. Whatever little bits of dough you scrape down will incorporate easily right back into the new dough and won’t be noticeable at all.

This all sounds complicated when you first read it, but after you get the routine down you’ll find it’s all very simple and doesn’t take much time at all. Have fun and eat hearty my friends.

This contest will end on April 22 2013  – prizes include:

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Comments

  1. I noticed in my refrigerator that my sour dough starter has a line of dark stuff in it. Is this bad & needs to be thrown out? It was a Christmas gift from a friend & I haven’t done anything with it.

    • If the dark layer is on top and liquid it’s alcohol that formed from sitting so long and can be poured off and the starter stirred and fed to reactivate it. I’ve read tales of prospectors and such drinking the alcohol layer off their sourdough starters.

      If the dark layer is under the surface it might be mold though the bacterial molds on sourdough I’ve seen over the years tend to be pink. A really bad smell is an indicator of mold. But the best rule of thumb is if in doubt toss it out.

      • Encourager says:

        Yes, it turns pinkish or orangey when it has gone bad. The dark gray or black is okay. Just stir it up good and if it has been sitting since Christmas, feed it!

        But yes, if in doubt toss it out is a good rule.

        • I guess I’m a little dense. Do I feed it 1/3 c flour, 1/3 c milk, 1/6 sugar? How often do I feed?

          • Kate,

            Yes, you will need to feed your starter on an ongoing basis something close to those amounts. Understand that In this recipe I make enough dough for two loaves of bread. I don’t bake them both at the same time. the second half of the dough sits in the refrigerator until the first loaf I baked is almost gone So, I feed the starter once when I make a batch of dough and again 3 or 4 days later when I bake the second loaf of that batch.

            If you feed your starter those amounts you will always have enough starter to use when you need to make dough. Don’t worry it will make sense after you get to doing it.

            If you’d rather you can start out by only making enough dough for one loaf at a time.

            That works out to:
            3/4 cup warm water
            1/2 cup sourdough starter
            1/2 TBSP kosher salt
            11.5 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) of your flour mixture.

            Then you can feed your starter every time you make your dough. This is what I have been doing lately. The thing to pay attention to is if you keep your starter going in a 1 quart container you always want to have fed it enough so it’s about half full or a little better when it’s time to make dough.

      • thanks!

  2. Mystery Guest says:

    I am glad you sent this in. I have wanted what seemed to be an easy way to have a bread starter. This seems like it will do the trick. I am not that handy in the kitchen any more.

  3. I haven’t done a lot of baking, gooshing sounds like a technical term. lol. My son has gluten sensitivity. Do you know or does anyone else know if we could substitute gluten free flour in this sourdough recipe? We use Ezekial bread, but it’s a little pricey. I’d like to find something else before the boys get much older and eat me out of house and home.lol.
    I’d appreciate hearing any gluten free ideas, although that may be getting off topic.

    • Oscar, My brother is sensitive to gluten and he can eat this bread without any allergic affects, he says. I can’t say it would be OK for everybody though. As with most things, different people react differently.

  4. Thanks for the info. These articles are the reason I came to this site, and the reason I stay.

  5. Hunker-Down says:

    OldGuy52,

    Knowing that we may not be able to buy yeast in the future, I have been searching for this information for over 2 years. THANK YOU!
    Your instructions are detailed and clear; I could see myself following them as I read your article.

    Just so you know what a kitchen expert I am; what is a pizza peel?

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Oh, HD, don’t you know ANYTHING? A pizza peel is what grows on the outside of a pizza, but you “peel” it off when you pick it from the pizza tree!

      or…not?!

      Maybe it’s a wooden paddle-like thingy with a long wooden handle that you use to place the pizza in an oven and also to remove it?

      I’m goin’ with # 1.

    • Here’s an Amazon page that shows a variety of styles and materials of pizza peels. Basically it’s a big spatula.

      http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=383851011

    • Pizza Peel = Great Big wooden spatula.

      However, I have a small, fairly thin maple cutting board (8″ x 7″ not counting the handle) that I use fairly regularly without problems. Getting the raw loaf from your prep surface onto the hot baking stone is tricky without something light that you can move quickly. This part of the operation is sorta like the trick where the magician pulls the table cloth out from under the table full of dishes without moving the dishes. You just ease the peel in until the loaf is over the spot you want it to end up on, on the hot stone. Then, you very quickly (suddenly) pull the peel out from under the loaf and it lands on the stone right where it was. After you do it a couple times, you’ll get the hang of it.

  6. I used to make sourdough starter and have bread baked and done in a total of 8 hours with lots of starter left in the fridge when I had a desperate food shortage. It was a Navaho recipie from a friend who baked the bread in a clay oven. It turned out great–hard crust and moist interior and I often served it with boiled chicken stew. I still make it that way, for a quick and easy way to have the bread and starter dough before I went hungry. The Navaho also taught me to make my own burrito bread (flat bread) and how to weave a rug on a saguaro stick loom. I adopted the recipe because in emergency situation, I needed something quick and easy.

    Some may say I don’t know what good sourdough tastes like, but I have bought some from the bakery and threw them out because they tasted bad.

    I wonder why you have to have so many steps and 8 days to wait to make it? Have you tried other methods? And if you have, what did you find in the difference? Taste, texture?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Donna, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your starter that would allow it to begin fermenting in 8 hours. Truly to get the healthy benefits of sourdough bread, you want a long fermentation time. This is what helps neutralize the proteins in the wheat that are bad for your digestion.

      I have read many different recipes for sourdough starter and they all take days for the fermentation process to establish itself. I could make a loaf of bread in 8 hours IF I already had starter going. However, I don’t know how to speed up the process of growing the starter without adding in some store bought yeast. That’s what I was trying to get away from.

      Honestly, I have not yet tried any other recipes. I like this bread well enough that I haven’t felt the need. Most importantly for me, it’s simple and given that I have wheat stored and a wheat grinder I can make my own flour too, if need be.

      • Oldguy52, I don’t know what part of the country you’re in, but one summer, I began a starter that doubled in the first eight hours.

        It was my first starter, and it overflowed the mason jar each time I fed it. Got worried that keeping the outside of the jar clean might be contaminating the starter, so I tossed it before I ever used it.

        Next time, I kept it on the counter instead of on top of the fridge (as my Pacific NW friend had advised). It was bubbling away in eight hours too, but this time it stayed in the jar.

        Guess we have extra-vigorous wild yeast in our Texas air. . . .

        • Hmmm…. probably a lot warmer down there too. I don’t know how to explain that. My starter did nothing for the first couple days when I was trying to get it started. Yes, now that it’s established it’ll raise right up to the top of the crock in 3 or for hours, I’ll shake it down some and it’ll probably do it again in another couple hours before it stops.

          But yeah, I misjudge and overflow my starter crock every now and then. It hasn’t been a problem other than wiping up the mess.

    • The bread tastes bad because the starter is fermented. The Navajo use a different method, did you learn how to make fry bread? I was wondering if that was the burrito bread you mentioned. Could you share the recipe for the Navajo sourdough bread?

      • Donna, I agree with JL–your Navaho bread sounds wonderful, and I to would love to see the recipe, if you don’t mind sharing.

      • Navaho Fry Bread (Flat bread that has been deep fried)

        2 cups white flour
        1 ½ tsps baking powder
        1 tbs salt
        ¾ lukewarm cup milk

        2 cups frying oil in heavy cast iron pan or skillet

        Mix dry ingredients together first and gradually add the milk. Mix well. Take out the dough and knead for 2 minutes on a floured work area.Let the dough rest covered with a damp cloth back in the bowl. Then pull dough and make large balls on a floured surface. Cover and let them rest again for 15 minutes. Then flatten the dough balls by hand.

        When oil is hot- about 365 degrees, place flatbread in fry pan oil, and add 2 or 3 at a time. Cook until it bubbles and flip them to other side to cook until golden. Set on paper towels to drain excess oil. Add what ever topping you want.

        Fry Bread Mary, an Apache lady who I knew during my primitive camping days made her fry bread differently- she took frozen sweetbread dough, thawed it out, kneeded it and rested it 15 minutes, then made balls and rested the mixure for another 15 minutes, and flattened them for her fry bread to put in the hot oil. She would fry them until golden in a deep kettle, several at a time. She took them out to drain, then put powdered sugar on top. I have never used sourdough with this recipe, but I am sure this can be worked with Fry Bread Mary’s recipe.

        Navaho Burrito flatbread (tortilla)

        2 cups white or wheat flour
        1 ½ tsps baking powder
        1 tbs salt
        ¾ lukewarm cup milk
        2 tbs vegetable oil

        This is almost like the Navaho fry bread but the oil is added to the dough instead of the skillet and these are rolled flat.

        Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetable oil and the lukewarm milk and work it into a dough just to make it all stick together..

        Dust the workspace with flour and put the sticky dough to knead it well for about 2 minutes. It will become firm kneading it. Put it back in the bowl, with a damp cloth cover it, and rest it for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 7-8 balls and let it rest for 15 more minutes. Then flour your workplace and roll the dough with a rolling pin out to 7-8 inches wide and thin. Place burrito dough in a hot cast iron skillet (no oil) and cook for 30 seconds and flip it, cooking it 30 more seconds. Place them on a paper towel to cool and wrap them in foil or airtight baggie. These should stay flexible if no air gets to it.

        Makes a great fried Chorizo and egg burrito as Andrew, this Arizona Navaho taught me how good this combo is with tears running down from my eyes.

  7. Sourdough, it’s not just bread, it can be used for anything that rises. Biscuits, pancakes, sweet rolls, pizza crust, tortillas…well you get the idea. Also sourdough loves potato water, try making sourdough bread with the water from boiled potatoes. And sourdough starter doesn’t have to made from flour. I’ve used this recipe for many years.

    Sourdough – Potato Based

    For each cup of starter desired:

    3/4 cups sugar
    3 Tblspns intant mashed potato flakes (no additives works best) or use your own dehydrated potatoes
    1 cup very warm water

    Mix all of the above in a non reactive container, preferably glass or stoneware crock….no metal. Stir daily or as often as you like with wooden or plastic spoon. Keep on counter or in a warm place till it bubbles.

    for 2 loaves mix;

    1 cup starter
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 stick margarine or butter (equals 1/2 cup) See note*
    3 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cups warm water
    6 cups flour

    Mix starter, sugar, margarine, salt and water together in large bowl. Add flour one cup at a time incorporating well until dough is not sticky. Scrape bowl clean and oil bread, cover bowl with towel and let rise in warm place for 8 to 12 hours. Punch down and knead lightly, divide into two loaves. Pan up as desired or make free form loaves, rolls or whatever. Repeat rising for 8 to 12 hours. (Bread needs to double in size). Brush with water, milk or spray top with vinegar as desired for crust. Bake on bottom rack at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before unpanning, then continue to cool on rack before slicing.

    • Indeed Tommy2rs, If you google “sourdough starter recipes” you will find many of them that suggest using potato water or potatoes in their recipes.

      There’s LOTS of sourdough starters out there. If you find you don’t like one, there’s plenty more variations to try.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      Thanks Tommy for this version…the lactose intolerant and all those that live with them, Thank You!..
      .I have been told the milk in the starter would not matter, but labeled the coffee mate products as lactose free…with an “insignificant” amount of lactose. To those who don’t tolerate a food there is no amount that is insignificant… Keep these two versions in your file, WE never know when they will make a difference in our life or the life of someone special to us…
      Question?? What temp is considered warm enough for the fermentation to begin?..maybe 70?..74?

      • Sw’t Tater,

        70 or so should be fine. I didn’t do anything special to keep mine warm and it’s usually around 68 in our house in the winter. I would expect that if it was kept a little warmer the process would tend to go faster. Maybe put it by the refrigerator and it can pick up a little extra heat from that.

        As I said earlier; Mine is certainly not the only sourdough starter recipe out there. It’s just the one I use and happen to like. I can sure understand your wanting to avoid any milk if you’re lactose intolerant. I’m allergic to nuts myself, not peanuts or almonds though. You’re right, it may not take much. I handled an interesting looking nut cracker once and then made the mistake of rubbing my eye. 10 minutes later my eye was almost swollen shut. You don’t always have to even ingest the stuff.

        • HomeINsteader says:

          Wow, oldguy! You’re allergic to nuts, but NOT peanuts? That’s where most people start.

          My poor ol’ Mom is in the hospital right now. She wanted a grilled Chik-Fil-A sandwich; a family member went to get one, ordered grilled, and they inadvertently dropped a fried one in. Without looking closely, Mom took a bite, and puffed up like a puffer fish within minutes! Yep, Chik-Fil-A fries in peanut oil. I love CFA, but I’m gonna have to let them know – they need to post some sort of warning.

          And, no, those extremely allergic do not have to swallow it to react to it.

          • Ooooh, sorry to hear about your Mom.

            Yeah. I luvs me some peanut butter. But, a sliver of a pecan will have me flopping on the floor like a fish out of water. Anaphylactic shock ain’t a lot of fun, eh.

            Truth be told I never knew peanut allergies were a problem until a few years ago when they had that hubub in the schools over it.

          • HomeINSteader, our CFA says it’s now frying the waffle fries in canola oil, which was a disappointment to me.

            One of the real foods blogs made a whole food version of the CFA sandwich–let me see if I can put my hands on that.

            Hope your mom recovers quickly, bless her heart.

  8. HomeINsteader says:

    Wow! Been waitin’ on this, Oldguy52! Thank you! But, “goosh”??? I’m sure it will be included in future editions of “Websters”!!

    • Ha ha…. Yeah I know, but I don’t know what you call it when you mash the stuff around in the zip lock bag. It makes a gooshing sound, so it just seemed natural.

      Somehow, I don’t think Webster’s is gonna’ be all that impressed.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        If they can include “ain’t”, and whole lot of other linguistic corruptions, who can tell?!

  9. Suburban Housewife says:

    Excellent article! I’ve been making all of my own bread for the past year or so and just recently have been thinking about trying sour dough. Thanks for a simple easy to follow step by step approach. Now I just have to adapt it to be gluten free…

  10. Encourager says:

    Thanks, OldGuy52! Great reminder on using sourdough. Have you ever made/had sourdough English muffins? You cook them on a griddle so you could actually cook these over a fire…carefully.

    I like your recipe because you let the dough sit in the frig overnight before baking. All grains contain phytic acid (especially whole grains) that is found in the outer layer of the bran (even whole wheat flour). This acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal track and block their absorption. It can actually lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. This is very important after the SHTF and you may be down to using whole grains. Allowing whatever you are making to sit overnight (at least 7 hours) soaking in warm acidulated water (add yogurt, whey, kefir or buttermilk) will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. I learned all this from a book called “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.

    The fact that you are letting your dough sit overnight and that it is sourdough takes care of the adding of an acid. But it is better for you to grind your wheat berries yourself and use the whole wheat flour rather than white flour. A bit of white flour will not hurt but all white is pretty dead flour. Even whole wheat flour looses most of its nutrition in 12 hours. Freezing helps.

    • English muffins….. Nummmy

      Actually my SIL called me up the other night talking about an English muffin recipe she was making. I thought I might try to adapt it to use my sourdough starter, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I better get off my butt, I’m missing out on some good eatin’.

      Actually I make my dough at the same time I empty the bowl to bake the last loaf of a dough batch, so the dough usually sits for at least a couple days in the refrigerator until that loaf is gone.

  11. I think you can get gluten free oat flour and I have read that you can use something called spelt. I haven’t tried that though.

  12. Southern Blonde says:

    Oldguy52:

    Thanks for a very enjoyable article to read. As I read it, I could actually see myself trying this. I’m printing your article for my “To Do” list of things I want to learn and try. Thanks for the helpful info.

    • Thanks Southern Blonde, for the kind words. I hope you’ll give it a try. Remember I’m just an old truck driver, if I can do it it probably ain’t that tough. :-)

  13. Tom Arnold says:

    This might be a silly question, but for the water you say 12 ounces. Do you mean fluid ounces (1.5 cups) or by weight? I wasn’t sure since you specified weighing the flour. I know some cooks weigh everything for consistency and didn’t know which side you were on. Thanks

    • Tom, In water, 12 ounces and a cup and a half are the same thing.

      But yes, I fill my measuring cup up to the 1 1/2 cup mark.

  14. Great article, Oldguy52! Love the gooshing tip. . . .

    For those looking for gluten free sourdough–or folks who’ve been inspired by OldGuy52 and want to try sourdough tortillas, English muffins, cakes, gingerbread, crackers, waffles, pancakes & more–take a look at Sourdough A to Z, a 150-page eBook from Gnowfglins (a whole foods/traditional cooking website).

    Coincidentally, I just got an e-mail this morning that through March 3, it is being offered as part of a 5 eBook bundle for a grand total of $7.40 (which is 90% off the bundled eBooks’ regular price). Here’s the link, if you’re interested:

    http://bundleoftheweek.com/real-food-bundle-week-9/?ap_id=gnowfglins

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Sweeet! Thanks, Lantana!

    • Lantana, Thanks for the links. I think these are where I’ll learn enough about whole grains to finally gain the confidence to complete this project by putting my grain mill to work and getting away from store bought flour.

  15. breadmomma says:

    I am a professional baker and love to see all of my fellow wolfpack play with their bread…If you are a beer maker or a mead maker, just take some of that nice home brew, stir it into unbleached bread flour and put into it a spoonful of honey…and just feed it once a day, equal parts flour (always unbleached) and water…I do not use whole wheat as the fat in it can get rancid, and if you use freshly ground flour, (green flour) the flour has to rest a few weeks as the enzymes can cause problems with the elasticity of your dough…you will get some very nice starter (innoculator)…I make sourdough every week…I use unbleached bread flour, kosher salt, starter, water and love…100 % flour, 63% water, 25 to 50% starter, 2% salt,…
    if your starter is a little wet, add more flour…if it is dryer, add more water…
    Also….if you are the type that struggles with the whole concept of starters…you can successfully make a quick starter by adding a tablespoon of yeast to 1 lb. of flour and 1 pint of water…feed it daily with equal part flour and water, daily and you will never have to buy yeast again…..a good site for some info is Bread Bakers Guild of America…lots of amazing stuff for both the home baker as well as the professional..

    • HomeINsteader says:

      I is so excited about all these new tips! Tanks!

    • Thanks Breadmomma, I knew there had to be some people out there that knew more about this stuff than I do and would speak up if we got a conversation started.

      I think a concept that many people don’t quite get is that sourdough stater is kinda like having a pet. You have to feed it and take care of it and if you do, it will live a long, happy life and do good things for you.

      I call my starter Fred and he lives in my refrigerator. He has been helping me make bread now for pretty close to three years.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        “Fred”, the little guy who lives in the refrigerator and turns on the light when you open the door!

      • I want to expand on this point a bit.

        The sourdough starter and sourdough bread dough are not the same thing.

        You only make your sourdough starter (the first part of the directions in my article) once. After you have a starter going, if you take care of it and keep it fed, you never need to do that part of the process again. Your starter is like your own little yeast factory and you use it instead of store bought yeast. It’s just another ingredient in your bread recipe.

        The dough is what you must make every time you want to bake. I have seen a lot of explanations on sourdough bread making where I couldn’t tell if the writer was talking about the starter or the dough as if they were the same thing. They are not. The starter is a natural yeast and merely an ingredient in the dough that you make the actual loaf of bread out of.

    • “Green flour”????
      What?? I have never heard that phrase before! If you let the so-called green whole wheat flour sit for a few weeks, it WILL get rancid! And will have barely any nutrition left. If you mix the liquid with the flour and let it set for at least 7-8 hours (in an acid such as buttermilk, sourdough or yogurt as listed above) it neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and neutralizes a large portion of phytic acid.

      I would rather do that than use dead flour. What is the point? Don’t we want nutritious bread, the best we can make?

      So my question to the Pack is…what are you going to do when you run out of white flour after SHTF? If you have wheat berries and a grain mill, don’t you think you should be practicing NOW to learn how to use whole wheat flour instead of white? I know, who doesn’t prefer white if they have a choice – it was what we all have been raised on and are used to. But isn’t the point here learning how to do stuff BEFORE SHTF?

      • HomeINsteader says:

        I don’t prefer white to whole wheat, given the choice, E! When you become accustomed to eating earthy, grainy, flavorful bread and grain foods, white tends to become bland and boring, IMHO.

        • Encourager says:

          I think honey brings out the nuttiness of whole wheat. I have a fav recipe that calls for whole wheat flour, buttermilk, honey and butter. It is soooooooo good! Will convert anyone to WW.

  16. HomeINsteader says:
  17. Frank J. Heller says:

    A couple of points, from the founder of Maine’s pioneering BAKERY PROJECT, whole grain bakery:
    >>if you’re creating your own starter from airborne yeast, I’d suggest using raw milk, not pasturized.
    >>I’d suggest using home ground whole wheat organic flour…..a SAMAP mill is fairly inexpensive.
    >>There is no ‘quick way’ to good sourdough. We built our sourdough by doubling the first batch every 12 hours over 3 days, last rise took a while, but the final product was well worth it…superb taste and texture.
    >>I’d leave out the white sugar; let the yeast feed on the complex carbonates in the flour.
    >>Use sea salt instead of mined salt, nutritionally more complex.

    • Encourager says:

      Good points, Frank J. Heller. I prefer honey to sugar in a bread recipe. But I never add sugar to feed sourdough. I have used milk before which has its own sugar in it. It may take longer to develop the sourdough “yeast” or base, but I have found the longer it takes, the better the flavor. My son took three weeks to develop his sourdough and it is superb.

      BTW, haven’t seen you post before. Welcome to the Wolf Pack!

  18. Frank J. Heller says:

    A couple of points, from the founder of Maine’s pioneering BAKERY PROJECT, whole grain bakery:
    >>if you’re creating your own starter from airborne yeast, I’d suggest using raw milk, not pasturized.
    >>I’d suggest using home ground whole wheat organic flour…..a SAMAP mill is fairly inexpensive. We used our flour straight from a SMAP 2000 mill that fractured the kernel, instead of grinding it. Flour was warm,fragrant and gave me a quality to the bread that was nutritionally superior to ‘dead’ flour.
    >>There is no ‘quick way’ to good sourdough. We built our sourdough by doubling the first batch every 12 hours over 3 days, last rise took a while, but the final product was well worth it…superb taste and texture.
    >>I’d leave out the white sugar; let the yeast feed on the complex carbonates in the flour.
    >>Use sea salt instead of mined salt, nutritionally more complex.

  19. I have a family of 6, so when i make this artisan bread i use the 6-3-3-13 rule. That’s six cups warm water, 3 tablespoons yeast, 3 tablespoons salt, and 13 cups flour. I use 10 cups white flour and 3 cups wheat flour. This stays good in the frig for 2 weeks and makes us about 6 loafs. The longer it sits in the frig, the more of a sourdough taste is has. One night I used it to make buns for pulled pork. Those were the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! I made my starter yesterday after reading this article, so next week I will use it to make my bread. I have read where whey could be used in place of water when making bread. I wonder if that would work in this recipe. I’ve been making my own cheese and have quite a bit of whey, and i’ve read it’s very healthy, so I would like to try it in my bread, but don’t want to ruin an entire recipe. If anyone has tried this, i’d be interested in hearing how it turned out.

    • Encourager says:

      Patty, using whey in bread is wonderful! You could sub the whey for the water in your recipe easily. You will like the subtle flavor change, I am sure.

  20. One more thing, if you go to Mother Earth News and type “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” in the search box, you can get a shortened version of that book for free. That’s where I got mine. And just a tip, if anyone’s memory is as bad as mine, ya might want to write the date that you started your starter on the bag. That way, you know what days to “goosh” and what days to “gas” it. :o)

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Hey, great ideas, Patty! Thanks! I sure wouldn’t want to get my goosh days confused with my gas days!

      I think we have a new prepper term here – need to add it to my prepper terminology: “goosh”. Synonym: “squish”?

      • Encourager says:

        Well, goosh is not as loose as squish…

        • HomeINsteader says:

          Hmm…good point, Encourager. They are NOT synonyms. Goosh is what you do when you want a drier mix, then, and squish is what you do with more wet? Got it!

          OMG! Oh, my goosh!

    • Just a note on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. That is where I started, back about 4 years ago. It is where I got the basic recipe for my bread. At that time, they had no sourdough starter or bread recipes, all their recipes used store bought yeast. That may have changed since. I adapted my recipe using the Amish Friendship Bread starter to replace the yeast in their original recipe. There is a big difference in both taste and texture between the taste of my (now) sourdough bread and the yeast bread I originally started making using their basic recipe. Some may like the yeast bread better, and admittedly it is easier since you don’t have to maintain the starter, but they may not get as many of the health benefits of the sourdough’s fermentation. Then of course there is the issue of more store bought ingredients.

      But, as they say your YMMV

  21. Oh my!!!!! GOOSH! I absolutely adore this post. I have been making bread for years, but I am printing this off for my sons notebooks. I love the story. I love the instructions. I love the bread. Fabulous.
    Please write more!

  22. HomeINsteader says:

    Mama J – does this give new meaning to “OMG!”? Oh, MY GOOSH!

    ; )

  23. I’m doing a little experiment today. After all the talk about making bread with honey instead of sugar, I thought I’d try taking some of the starter from my existing batch and put it in a different container and feed it with flour, HONEY (instead of sugar) and milk. It’s sitting on top of the warm oven now and shortly I’ll know if the honey inhibits the growth or not.

    Honey was used in ancient times as a preservative, so I don’t know what it’ll do to the bacterial growth when it’s introduced into the starter. I hope it works. I’m kinda excited to see what it does to the flavor of the finished bread. I’ll know in a couple days.

    • Encourager says:

      I do not think you should use so much sugar in your recipe and subbing honey equivalent is going to be pretty strong tasting. It will also adversely affect the liquid factor in your bread, seeing as honey is a liquid.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        Encourager makes a good point: honey and sugar are not a 1:1 ratio substitution; it takes much less honey than sugar to sweeten – probably more like half the honey to the sugar ratio, and yes, you must adjust your grain ratio for the liquid honey, or you will have a goopey mess.

      • Encourager,

        The sugar in my recipe does not make this bread sweet. Far from it. Since the sugar dissolves, I’d say it’s really a liquid too. But if it takes a little more flour to get the dough firm enough, that’s OK.

        Honestly, just like everything else I’ve done with this bread making project, I’ll play it by ear and if something doesn’t work quite right, I’ll change it ’til it does.

        • HomeINsteader says:

          Especially if you are using whole grains, if you add flour AFTER the gluten strands start to bind (elasticity), you break those gluten strands and get “bricks” for bread. It’s best to know how much grain you will need and not add more after it becomes “elastic”.

          This is the reason I do not use flour to work my bread on my marble-top bread “board”. I use solid shortening, instead; solid coconut oil would work, for organic types, although it is very expensive.

          • If my dough is too wet, I’ll know it before I’m done mixing it up in the bowl. Stirring in a little more flour at that point shouldn’t be a problem, just a matter of mixing for 30 seconds longer or so.

            Honestly, it isn’t like I haven’t changed every ingredient type or amount or any other parameter (baking time, temp, etc.) it’s possible to change at one time or another during this whole process.

            I broke out my wheat grinder yesterday and got it bolted to a tabletop, so I’m sure there will be some adjusting required once I’m putting in fresh ground wheat instead of bagged flour. It’s just one long ongoing experiment. But that’s OK, I enjoy playing with it.

          • HI, try using just water next time. I find that works well. And you don’t end up adding too much fat to the bread.

            LOL…I have a book called “No More Bricks”. Has lots of good ideas but is basically promoting a type of mixer she uses.

      • Frank j. Heller says:

        I used about 4,000 lbs. of honey a year, and we used it as the ‘sugar’ in yeast-ed breads along with maple syrup(amber), molasses(Crosby 4 star), and honey(wildflower).

        As a sub. Honey is less sweeter so use more and adjust Salt accordingly; Honey is also a liquid so reduce your liquids by 1/4- 1/2 cp.

        Honey is also very acidic, and it may have an impact on acid loving sourdough ferments. Adding alkaline fruit juice can lower it. Juice ranges from 3.35-4.00 while honey ranges from 3.70 to 4.20. Yeast is 5.65.
        (http://www.foodscience.caes.uga.edu/extension/documents/fdaapproximatephoffoodslacf-phs.pdf)

        If you measure oil first there will be a residue in the measuring cup; that will enable you to empty it of honey or molasses.

    • So how’s your other starter Fred doing today?

      I’m guessing that the honey’s anti-microbial qualities will really knock down the starter. Did you substitute it in for the sugar 1:1?

      • Lantana,

        Well, it’s bubbling along nicely. I’ll feed it again in a little bit. By tomorrow I should have enough to try making a loaf.

        Yes, 1:1, but you guys might be right about the strength of the taste. I’ll probably end up cutting it back to a tablespoon or so instead of a 1/4 cup.

        • Go Fred, go!

          So, what time tomorrow do we all show up at your place with butter and jam for the taste test?

  24. Oldguy52, meant to ask you, when you’re away for longer periods of time, how do you keep Fred going in the fridge?

    Have the dog sitter feed him every 5th day? Just leave him to fend for himself?

    • Lantana,

      I actually do have this problem. We have a sailboat that stays in a slip in another state and we go stay on it in the spring and fall sometimes for up to a month. When we go, I take Fred over to my brother, who lives in the same town and he feeds him once a week or so.

      When he goes away, I look after his cat every couple days.

  25. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Oldguy,
    I have been incommunicado for a few days. But I do appreciate your article. Thank you.

    • My pleasure Tactical G-Ma. I hope you find it useful.

      Nothing serious I hope…. being gone I mean.

  26. HomeINsteader says:

    I was thinking this yesterday, TGMa. Trust you are well?

  27. Tactical G-Ma says:

    HI,
    Had old friends visit a few days and didn’t get near the computer. It was a great visit and now I am just trying to catch up on my reading without too much comment. Thanks for caring!

  28. HomeINsteader says:

    Congrats on your vacation from the computer! ; ) And I’m sure you enjoyed your friends, as well!

  29. Question for anyone who has tried it:

    Is there anyone in the Pack that’s baking or has baked bread in a solar oven of any sort?

    If you have, could you tell us how well it worked…. or didn’t?

    I’ve been looking at solar ovens (box type) and also the parabolic reflectors, but I can’t find any reviews or anything that gives detail about how to bake using them.