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How to Make Sourdough Bread- with Sourdough Starter Recipe

Updated on September 30, 2015
My starter after proofing
My starter after proofing


One of the most fun ways to bake bread at home is to make your own sourdough. My mother-in-law is a great cook and likes to can and make most of her food at home, she's my inspiration. Unlike commercial sourdough, the homemade stuff is not particularly sour. What you're trying to do is to capture the wild yeast in the air and flour, and use this to make your bread rise.

Your Starter

The most important part of your sourdough bread is your starter. All you need is flour and water, honest! Mix a cup of flour and a cup of water in a non-metal container (metal will kill the bacteria). I keep my starter in a tupperware with holes punched in the lid for air. Leave the mix in a warm place (above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, below 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Every day you must scoop out half of the mixture and replace it with half a cup of water and half a cup of water. Use a non-metal stirrer, like a wooden spoon or plastic spatuala. In about 3-7 days you will notice the mixture is bubbly and has a beery smell. Once you have bubbles and a nice beery smell you have a little yeast colony thriving, congratulations! Some people like a more doughy starter, but I like my goopy swamp. (If the mixture smells just plain old bad, throw it out and start again).

Feeding the Beast

Once you have an established starter put it in the fridge. You now only have to feed it about once a week. Your new friend may produce some "hooch", which is waste alcohol created by the bacteria. Either pour it off or stir it in if your starter is dry, it won't hurt a thing. Remember, only use non-metal utensils to stir your starter.

Proofing Your Sponge

Before you can start your bread you have to proof your sponge. Pour your starter into a glass or pottery bowl and add a cup of water and a cup of flour. The fermentation process may take anywhere from 4-8 hours. The best time to do this is overnight. I stick mine in the oven (off) to keep it safe from dogs. As when you first created your starter, watch for frothy bubbles and sniff for the beer smell. When your starter has these two qualities it is ready to bake!

Don't Let Them Eat Cake! You Can Make Bread!

And lots of other things. Look on various websites like SOAR for sourdough recipes (pancakes, muffins, etc). You should have some starter left as well. Put this back into a clean, non-metal container. To make the bread you'll need:

  • 2 cups proofed sponge
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

I also like to add things like Italian herbs and parmesan cheese to my bread. Experiment and find out what you like.

It's also very important to add that the amount of flour is an estimate. My starter dried out quite a bit one week and I only used half of the called for flour. Make sure you have a nice, flexible dough that still had a little hint of stickiness to it. I've put too much flour in before, and the result is not pretty.

First add the oil, sugar and salt to the starter, stir. Cut in the flour a half cup at a time. Knead the dough until it is smooth and put it in a covered bowl. Set aside in a warm place until the dough is doubled. Once dough is doubled punch it down and knead it some more, place on a baking sheet and cover, letting dough double in size one more time. I like to cut a slit on top of the loaf. Now is also a good time to sprinkle goodies on top, like kalamata olives or brown sugar. (This is really a personal thing).

Once the dough has doubled set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and throw the bread in before it preheats. About 30-40 minutes later you should have a golden crusted loaf of bread! Yum!

Share the Wealth

Share your starter with a friend! Just go through the proofing process and give half the mixture away. There are some starters that have been around for more than a century. How cool is that?


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    • profile image

      sourdough bread recipe 7 years ago

      This is a great recipe. But only thing missing is a recipe for a whole wheat, whole grain version.

    • esatchel profile image

      PDGreenwell 7 years ago from Kentucky

      I'm interested in using your starter recipe, but under the header "Your Starter" it says "Every day you must scoop out half of the mixture and replace it with half a cup of water and half a cup of water." I know you don't mean two 1/2 cups of water, but I'm not sure if one of the 1/2 cups is flour or something else. Thanks!

    • CennyWenny profile image

      CennyWenny 7 years ago from Washington

      You are quite welcome Vickie!

    • Vickie Sloderbeck profile image

      Vickie Sloderbeck 7 years ago from south of Atlanta

      Thanks CennyWenny for the recipe. I remember using this exact same technique to start my first sourdough starter some 33 years ago. I believe I found it in a James Beard bread recipe book. I lost track of the small paperback book and have tried off and on, unsuccessfully over the years to remember how to start my sourdough starter "from the air."

      Now that you have refreshed my memory, I'm going to start one again today! Blessings to you!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Now I'm hungry but I don't have any sourdough starter so I'm going to make bannock lol

    • profile image

      Susan M 8 years ago

      Thanks for the recipe. I love to cook but am not very good at baking bread. I'm going to print and try this recipe though - thanks!

    • profile image

      Alex 8 years ago

      Here is the UK sourdough bread is virtually unheard of, but as I am really keen to try it I have begun to create my own starter. Thanks for all the tips.

    • Hope Wilbanks profile image

      Hope Wilbanks 9 years ago from Louisiana

      Sourdough bread really is super easy to make. I've been making 4 batches of bread twice a week and selling it. I'm saving what I make on that to pay for my school books. ;)

    • shailini profile image

      shailini 9 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Thanks for the recipe. I have always wanted to make my own bread (no pun). thumbs up

    • CennyWenny profile image

      CennyWenny 9 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, I named mine Bob! Think of it as a pet.

    • MegBot profile image

      MegBot 9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great tips. I've always been afraid to try making sour dough! Thumbs up!