ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • Culinary Arts & Cooking Techniques»
  • Baking

How to make Sourdough, Sour Dough and Friendship Sponge Bread Recipe

Updated on December 22, 2016
tonymead60 profile image

Tony has been baking bread for many years and loves experimenting with bread from around the world. He enjoys passing on his experience.

The staff of life


Sour dough, Friendship bread

I’m bonkers about bread making by hand I make bread three times a week and I’ve pretty much covered bread from every angle in other hubs, but the only recipes I’ve left out are probably some of the most basic ones. So here you are, Sour Dough and making bread using a sponge for the mix. I’ve mentioned making small amounts of sponge to add into the mix, but this time it will be the mix. If you are keen on improving your bread baking then this is the way to go, I include some mother even in my yeast recipe breads because it helps the bread come together better.

The sponges can be divided and given to a friend for them to make their own sponge mother, hence the title Friendship Bread.

The living starter

The sour dough mother bubbles with life
The sour dough mother bubbles with life | Source

There are many different versions of this and I’m sure there are lots of hubs too, but this is my way and the way I’ve found to successfully produce a really tasty above average bread.

This bread is grown as much as made, it is necessary to first create, what is known as a Sour Dough Mother.

Begin with a cup of strong white bread flour and a cup of warm 100ºf, mix together and leave somewhere warm. I use a kilner jar with the seal ring removed, because you don’t want it air tight. The idea is that instead of adding yeast the mix slowly takes yeast from the air and begins to ferment, creating gas bubbles.

I usually put a few grapes or basil leaves into the starter, because they have natural yeasts which help the starter, and give flavour.

Dough ready for the oven
Dough ready for the oven | Source

Second day, add a half cup of flour and the same of warm water. Stir it into the mix which should already be very sticky. Day by day the gluten in the flour strengthens and builds.

Third day, already there should be bubbles in the mix, don’t worry if not. There should be a slightly sour smell when you open your container, don’t worry that’s normal.

Forth day, you can add a little wholemeal flour to the mix, add a full cup of flour and half a cup of warm water. Give it all a real good mixing which will put in air, and like most living things your starter needs air.

On baking day, add flour and warm water, and then leave your mix for about three hours during which time it should fill with bubbles.

ready to eat
ready to eat | Source

You need 300g of bread flour and 125ml of warm water. Add two big tablespoons of the mother and mix well with the flour, add two teaspoons of salt. add one or two tablespoons of butter which will give the bread flavour and help its keeping quality.As the dough starts to come together turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until it feels right. By that I mean it will begin to feel soft and spongy, it will stretch without tearing and hold together in a smooth ball.

The bread needs proving and cooking just as you would any bread. See my hub on making a simple loaf for more details.

If you get water forming on your mix you need to feed it, but first pour off the liquid. The liquid is quite high in alcohol and used to be pour off to be drunk, but I think it provided more of a headache than anything else.

Little story

I used to sit at the end of the kitchen table as a kid and watch my grandma make and bake. She had a range which heated the rest of the house too; it had two ovens, one above the other and a place for the kettle and a bottom cupboard where the bread was proved before baking. She was stone deaf, a victim of the Low Moor munitions factory disaster in 1916, when the steel factory exploded and although grandma was a few miles away in a village called Shelf, she was deafened by the intensity of the sound.

It may have affected her hearing, but she was still the best cook and baker I’ve ever come across, her current and mint pasties were just heaven.

panning for gold
panning for gold | Source

I remember reading that it was the main type of bread used in the Californian gold rush, and that Sour Dough Sam is the San Francisco 49er’s mascot. This type of bread was common during the Klondike gold rush too and old timers there were and I believe still are referred to as old sourdoughs.

Friendship Bread

The idea with this dough is not to throw away leftover’s, which become the starter for the next batch. Some starters can be as old as fifty or sixty years, because they will live as long as they are fed and looked after, they can go on indefinitely. Some call this starter ‘Friendship Bread’ because you tend to produce more than you need and rather than throwing it away, you can pass it on to friends and they can also grow their own.

Funnily enough, my Italian friend Fabio and I both have the same memories of our grandma’s who had a stoneware pot that contained their sourdough starter. My grandma used to talk to it as she fed it; she said it was her bread-cow, because she milked it every few days for the dough.

soft crumb
soft crumb | Source

The chemistry and science behind why this makes a tasty bread are too complicated to go through here, and to be honest I don’t suppose we really need to know. I’m a breadnut so I find it all interesting.

You can add, grape must, apple juice, milk, basil leaves [Greek sour dough] any source of lactic acid bacteria will improve and change the flavour and character of your bread. Sour dough bread lasts longer and seldom goes mouldy.

Pre-fermented dough

Making bread using a sponge.

This idea can be taken further and larger quantities made to use half and half with dry flour. Bread such as Ciabatta is made in a similar way with the exception that yeast is added and then proved overnight in the fridge. See my link for the recipe. There are other names related to this type of bread making, biga, poolish and pâté fermentée, which are called pre-ferments.

Rustic, tasty bread
Rustic, tasty bread | Source

For the sponge, I use 300gm of mother and 300gm of whole wheat or wholemeal bread mixed together with enough warm water 100ºf to form a slightly sticky dough. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and two tablespoons of butter. You can also add 2 teaspoons of sugar, or malt extract, or I sometimes add a banana or two that have started to turn brown.


The all the ingredients together and knead until it feels right. Let it prove for about an hour, this gives strength and adds flavour to the bread.

Divide the dough in half and shape. Place on a greased baking tray or if you have an oven stone. Prove the dough on a floured peel so you can drop it straight onto the stone.

Preheat the oven to about 220ºc gas mark 9. Cook at 9 for about ten minutes and then turn down to gas mark7 for about 20 minutes. When you get them out of the oven, turn them over and tap the bottom to see if it is cooked, it should have a hollow sound.

This bread is great just on it's own or with a thick generous spread of butter, but of course it will go with anything, and I think that once you have tasted this you will never eat shop bought bread again.

I hope you try this recipe, and that you have enjoyed sharing my kitchen for a short while, I've certainly enjoyed your company, so leave a comment please.

a good mornings baking
a good mornings baking | Source
Guilty of Honour
Guilty of Honour

My first published book, please take a look and maybe buy a copy

Also available on Kindle for £2.60


Tudor Adventure /Romance

Sea Dog's Revenge
Sea Dog's Revenge

Thomas Sladdin is from a simple yeoman family background, but as a child, his family is evicted by bloody Queen Mary’s henchmen, and he is forced to take cover with a family friend: Sir Francis Drake. Under Drake’s guidance, Thomas learns the art of navigation and sails around the world with Drake. Thomas is ambitious and driven on by the need to reclaim his family’s lands and fortune. After sailing with Drake for several years, he is able to afford his own ship and begins to build a reputation as an adventurer and to enhance his fortune by plundering the Spanish Main.

However in 1587, Protestant England is on the brink of disaster; it is financially bankrupt and under threat of invasion from Spain. King Philip of Spain who is determined to add England to his empire, and restore it to Catholicism is prepared to go to any lengths to subdue his enemy.

The greatest legacy Henry VIII left his heirs was a modern and strong navy. Elizabeth Tudor, armed with this weapon prayed that she could thwart Philip’s ambitions. In particular, she relied on a band of sea captains that she nicknamed her ‘Sea Dogs’.

Thomas Sladdin was now one of those captains; a privateer and adventurer, fiercely loyal to Elizabeth and the English cause, and he was prepared to put his life on the line to safeguard his country and Queen.

However, there were a number of surprises waiting for Thomas, and he could not help being taken aback by the twists and turns his life was to take, because he had not anticipated becoming part of Sir Francis Walsingham’s spy network, or meeting the mysterious and beautiful Princess Sabina of Portugal.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 4 years ago from Yorkshire


      thanks for the return visit I hope it is the first of many exchanges between us.

      Sad about your mother dough, at that age it must have had an incredible flavour and taste. I've recently started adding grated apple to my sponge and leaving it to ferment, what a flavour it adds and will bring the fermentation on leaps and bounds.



    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Tony... glad you slipped in and commented on my Wolf hub this morning and it brought me to here. I do love Sourdough bread and baked it for years while I lived in the Klondike. My 15 year old starter died a slow death through freezing in a moving van and I have been trying all sorts without much success. I will be trying this one. Thanks for writing this....

      Warmest Regards... Rolly in Canada

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 4 years ago from Yorkshire

      Thank you sweetie for returning my visit, this bread is simple to make and in a warm climate it should be even better.



    • sweetie2 profile image

      sweetie2 4 years ago from Delhi

      wow it looks so beautiful bread, Though I don't think I would be able to make it but it is so beautiful.. making me hungry. voting it up and useful.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire


      thank you for your visit and comments, votes.

      It has a wonderful beery smell after a couple of days, and as long as you fed it with flour it will go on indefinatly. I think I'll leave my bread-mother to my grandkids;}

      regards Tony

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 5 years ago from Ireland

      Wow what a Bread Recipe! I have never heard of Friendship Bread until I read this excellent article. The history of this unique way of making bread and why it is called this was also fascinating.

      Thanks for SHARING. Up and Awesome

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire


      we have a much loved comedian over here called Ken Dodd, who always carried a tickling stick to make sure your chuckle muscles were in working order.

      His concerts leave you gasping for breath and your chuckles muscles completly pooped out.

      beam me up spotty.


    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      Tony, Those chuckle muscles are indeed important --- nay, they are essential to our moods at any given moment. Chuckle away.



    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire


      many thanks for visiting and your comments.

      You made me chuckle with your comments, and as we all know it is essential each day to work our chuckle-muscles.



    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      Tony, A very enjoyable, "deliciously" rewarding journey through starters, sponges, Low Moor, Alaskan gold, etc.!

      Your photos are wonderfully helpful, and your breadly creations are assuredly as tasty as they are photogenic.

      Proper champion, lad.

      Toodles, Stessily

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire

      Hi Scarytaff,

      How you doing my friend? I hope you're enjoying this weather.

      Thanks for the comment and the votes of course I hope you give it a try.

      cheers Tony

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire

      Baking bread101

      Thank you for your good comments.

      I don't have to tell you the pleasure of baking, and I find it so rewarding. The possibilities are almost endless and with the experience of my Italian friend's family I also heve some great input.

      I've started putting honey, grapes, even herbs into the sponge which all help, and reduce that sour smell too.

      goodluck, I'll take a look at your sour dough later.

      cheers Tony.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 5 years ago from South Wales

      Terrific hub, Tony. Thanks for the info. Voted up and useful.

    • BakingBread-101 profile image

      BakingBread-101 5 years ago from Nevada

      I've been baking bread for over 30 years -- it's a rare thing for me to buy store bought. And yes, I'm one of those "other hubs" you talk about. You really did a great job writing this up. Your sponge is very much like the one I use for my sourdough. The longer the sponge sits, the more "sour" it becomes.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 5 years ago from Yorkshire

      Derdriu, Do you think it sounds tasty or not? just joking.

      Apparently they used to keep the mother mix in bags around their necks to keep it warm in Alaska.

      Where they, your ancestors panning for gold, or did they have a business, because I think that there were many camp followers who supplied services and items such as food and clothing.

      I have a hub almost ready about the explosion, it was a real catastrophy and showed how even civilians were suffering during the 1914-18 war.

      All my memories of grandma and her house are fond ones, it seems now as if it was always sunny with her.

      We've changed to summer time in GB the clocks go forward an hour until the winter equinox and then we change them back. This is the worst one, because you lose an hours sleep. Daft idea.

      Thank you for taking the time to write I do appreciate it and your friendship.

      take care


    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Tony, What finger-licking, mouth-watering, stomach-growling, tummy-scrummy delicious, scrumptious, tasty recipes! In particular, I appreciate the patient description of exactly what to do, how and when. Additionally, I really enjoy the cultural details which flavor your recipes, such as the recounting of experiences during gold-rush times in California and Alaska.

      Two of my paternal ancestors, George and Henry, participated in the Alaska gold rush. So it's interesting to read about sour dough and old sourdoughs ;-]!

      It's also interesting to read about your grandmother whose lack of hearing was compensated for by fantastic baking, among other talents.

      Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,