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How to Make Sourdough Bread & Starter

Updated on July 30, 2013

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Potato Flake Sourdough Starter Recipe

Sourdough Bread Recipe

Bread is food that feeds both body and soul. Sourdough is a special kind of bread, which gives home a satisfying smell and feel. Bread is a very important staple in the diet and making your own gives you a sense of nurturing your family. There are many different types of sourdough recipes, but this is the one that has worked for me for the last 19 years. It 's easy to keep the starter alive, and making a batch of bread becomes a quick and easy task. Best of all, it 's cheap!

Items needed to make sourdough starter and bread:

  • non-metal bowl
  • plastic or wooden spoon
  • glass jar
  • several clean kitchen towels
  • three (3) bread pans or cookie sheets
  • Corn oil
  • sugar
  • all-purpose or bread flour
  • yeast
  • potato flakes
  • warm water
  • paper towels
  • cooking thermometer for liquid
  • oven thermometer

When making this sourdough starter for the first time you will mix the ingredients and allow the mixture to rest on the counter, covered with a clean cloth such as a dish towel for 2 days.It should stay at room temperature.

Initial Mix:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (1 pkg is equal to 2 ¼ tsp)
  • 3 TBSP potato flakes

After the starter has rested on the counter for two days, feed the starter using the recipe below:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP potato flakes

During this time fermenting which makes the bread so tasty is taking place. Using the starter in for the first time or two will be slightly different in timing than it will be after your starter is established.

Set the starter on the counter all day. It should not get hot, but it should maintain room temperature. Place the starter in refrigerator for three to five days. When you are ready to make the bread after the third day but before the fifth:

Bring starter out and allow it to warm to room temperature. Take out one cup starter to make bread following the recipe below.

While bread is baking, follow directions below titled Feed the starter.

Bread Recipe

  • 1 cup starter
  • 5 ½- 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼-cup sugar
  • 1-tablespoon salt
  • 1 2/3-cups warm water
  • 1/3-cup oil (Corn oil works best)

1. Add one cup starter, ¼ cup sugar, 1 2/3 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees) and 1/3 cup oil. Stir in 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl. Mix the dough using a large wooden or plastic spoon. (Metal reacts with the starter and will ruin the dough.)

2. Flour your very clean counter and knead in the rest of the flour, about 1 to 1 ¼ cups. Work until the dough is smooth and elastic. This should take about five minutes. Do not work the dough too long because dough that is kneaded more than necessary becomes tough.

3. Dampen a paper towel with corn oil. Grease the inside of a large bowl with the corn oil. Preheat the oven to 250 for about 3 minutes, just warm enough to give a nice warm place for dough to rise. Turn off after 3 minutes. It should not have preheated fully. Place dough in bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the oven cool down to about 120 degrees; add the covered bowl to the oven. Let dough rise for 8 – 12 hours.

4. Take an oiled paper towel and grease 3 bread pans.

5. Take the dough out of the oven and uncover. Beat dough down for a minute or two. Shape into three bread-pan-size loaves. Place the dough back in the oven or other warm, draft free place. Cover each pan with a clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise for 2-3 hours or until it doubles in size.

6. Remove dough from oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. After the oven reaches 400 degrees, place loaves in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until loaves are golden brown. Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave in a coffee cup. Take a baking brush and brush bread with melted butter. You can brush it on both before and after baking if you prefer. Remove from bread pans and place on wire racks to cool.

7. Enjoy the taste and scent of freshly baked bread.

When you are ready to make bread again, bring the starter out.

Feed starter

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP potato flakes

Stir well. Let the starter sit on the counter for 8 to 12 hours.(Overnight is a great time) After 8 – 12 hours take one cup of starter and begin making another loaf of bread following the recipe above. Return remaining cup to the refrigerator to wait for three to five days.

After three to five days, follow the instructions above beginning with Feed starter. If you will not be baking a loaf of bread, throw out one cup of the starter. When you do not feed and remove one cup of the starter every three to five days, the starter goes flat.

Tips on bread baking: It is worth investing in a thermometer for water temperature and one for the oven temperature. The water must be the right temperature because after 115 degrees the yeast will die and your bread will be flat. If your water temperature is less than 100 degrees, it will not be hot enough and your dough will not rise. You have a narrow temperature range to make sure your bread does well.

Also, when using your oven to let your dough rise, you do not want it to be too warm. It needs to be less than 120 degrees. This allows the dough to rise without stopping the action of the yeast by starting the cooking action.

Salt and sugar will affect your recipe if you aren’t careful. Never over salt your recipe because salt inhibits yeast action. Sugar helps yeast to multiply, but too much sugar will cause it to fail.

You can use large cookie sheets if you don’t want to invest in bread pans. You can also use Pam or other cooking spray. I use a small amount of oil because I think it is less expensive but I have not done a cost comparison, so use your own judgment.

Italics are my personal experiences so take them as you will.


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    • DRidge profile image

      DRidge 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, MS

      Yes, I've heard it called friendship bread but my friends had more complicated recipes with raisins and stuff in it when they used the starter. If you get some from a friend you don't have to go through the initial mixing stage. I started to mention that in the article but it was getting long.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Oh Goody! I book marked this! We call it "friendship bread" when we divide the starter before you start to feed it. We give away 2/3 and then wait for our friends to give it back:)