Friday, March 12, 2010

Sourdough Bread Recipe

A few people have asked about this cheap bread we keep talking about, so here's the recipe I've been using.

It begins with a starter, which can take several days before it's ready to start using.

Making your Starter
  • Select a container for your starter. A wide-mouth glass jar is best, but plastic is also fine. Just no metal.
  • Make your starter. 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Mix well in a wide mouth glass or plastic container and keep in a warm, safe place. 70-80 degrees is ideal.
  • Every 24 hours, feed your starter. First, throw away half of your starter, then add 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. You may notice a yeasty beer type smell - this is good! It may also puff up a little bit. Once you start noticing a bubbly froth, your starter is ready! 
  • Keep your starter in the fridge with a lid on. You do need to leave a little breathing room, so either punch a hole in the top of the lid or use a canning lid and keep it loose. Once your starter is chilled it needs to fed only once a week.
Making the Bread

  • Take your starter out of the fridge and pour into a glass or plastic mixing bowl. Meanwhile you should wash and dry your jar - use very hot water.
  • Mix one cup of warm water and one cup of flour with your starter and cover. Let it sit for several hours until you see frothy bubbles and it smells a little sour. This can take several hours. I usually do mine overnight. 
  • When it's ready, use 2 cups of the starter from the bowl to start your bread recipe. The rest is your new starter and can be placed back in the fridge, giving it a fresh feed of 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water.
  •  Here's what you'll need for the bread:
    • 2 cups proofed starter
    • 2-3 cups unbleached flour
    • 2 Tbsp. oil (we've been using cheap vegetable oil but olive oil would probably be great
    • 4 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
Mix the oil, sugar and salt with the proofed starter. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading it in when the dough is thick enough. Knead in enough flour to make a smooth elastic dough, then place back in the bowl and let rise until doubled in size. I found it works best to turn my own on for just a minute, then turn it off and put the bowl inside. Since this is your own starter and not a packaged yeast, the rising time can vary. You'll know it's fully risen when you can make an indent that doesn't fill back in.

Once the dough has doubled, punch down and knead a little more, shaping into a loaf. Place on a cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Allow to rise again until doubled. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350 F oven - do not preheat. By my calculations, this costs around 35 or 40 cents a loaf.

I hope that doesn't sound too complicated. It's actually a really simple recipe and allows you to make bread without purchasing yeast, so that's why I chose it. It never ceases to amaze me that such a simple combination (flour and water) can make the bread rise! Good luck with your baking, and let me know if you have any questions. I'm looking forward to trying a few variations on this recipe when we're off $1 a day. I think some kind of garlic parmesan combination would work really well with this recipe.


  1. You might be able to do a variation even now, Janell. Maybe you could add some grated carrots to the dough. Or, I wonder how it would be to boil a potato, cool the water, and use some of that in your process, maybe adding some potato to the dough. Guess you have to be careful to not ruin the bread, though, because you really can't afford to lose food. I think the carrot would work, though. Not quite carrot cake, Andy, but it might be a refreshing variation.

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  3. Thanks Janell! I'm going to give this recipe a try. I've done one out of my cookbook a couple times and have been pretty disappointed. Actually I took a picture of two very sorry-looking loaves the other day (all the more sorry because they realized they were soon going straight to the trash). I'll have to show you sometime.

    p.s. I accidentally posted under Amber's account but then I deleted it.