Basic Sourdough Bread (and butter!)

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Hello, Lovelies! Have you ever reached into the cupboard for your sourdough starter, lifted the lid and breathed that wonderful sour-ish, flour-ish, whole-grain goodness smell up your nostrils and just smiled? Mmmmm, me too. Okay, so maybe the nostril part was more detail than you needed.

Anyway, that’s why I’m sharing my current go-to sourdough bread recipe.

Think sourdough

No, no! Don’t go! I know the thought of making sourdough bread is a bit daunting. I was in the same boat. But really, it’s not hard to learn. And just think about how pleased you’ll be when you bite into that first buttery slice of homemade goodness and know you’re eating healthy.

Okay, just think about that first buttery slice.

Okay, just think about the butter.

Any which way you do it, just take a deep breath and stick with me for a bit here.

When I finally decided to face my fears and learn about sourdough, I read about it until my eyes went buggy. I was right. . .it was daunting. Some recipes measured out the ingredients in grams and had very detailed how-to’s that frankly, made my knees shake just thinking about it. I’m sorry, but I just don’t cook like that. The more specific and detailed a recipe, the greater the chance I’ll botch it up somehow.

The ‘perfect’ sourdough recipe

I came to the conclusion that if I were going to make sourdough bread, it would have to meet my specifications:

  • I wanted a recipe that used a lot of sourdough starter or at least soaked the added flour for a significant amount of time. The whole purpose of souring wheat is for your health. It wasn’t going to do a whole lot of good to use only 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, add several cups of flour, and bake it without an extended souring. I wanted it to be soured down to the very last crumb.
  • I did not want to use dry yeast. The ingenuity of sourdough is that the yeast is right there. Why make a sourdough recipe and have to add yeast as well?
  • I also wanted a basic, old-fashioned recipe without a lot of fluff to it. Something like my great-great grandmother might have made in a little log cabin tucked in the woods. Simple, soured, and satisfying.
  • And last, but not least, I didn’t want any form of sugar in it.

I wasn’t asking for much, was I?

My search brought me to GNOWFGLINS. I love this site because:

  • GNOWFGLINS is an acronym for “God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season” – can you sum up the delight of healthy, good-for-you food in any better way?
  • I love that they call themselves GNOWFGLINS – a strange looking word that makes you so curious you can’t help but find out what it means. So you go to their site and suddenly your sucked in and reading about sourdough and all sorts of whole food goodness. Very astute of them.

Oh, and there’s one more reason.  . .

  • They had my recipe. Well, not my recipe, but you know, mine. The treasure I was looking for. And you can use it for pizza crust, rolls, etc. too. (Yipee!) I think I may send them a dozen roses.

I take absolutely no credit for how much you’re going to love this bread. I’m just overjoyed to have found it and be able to pass it on.

Basic Sourdough Bread (candida-diet)
makes 2 loaves (recipe can easily double for more)

3 c. sourdough starter
1 c. water
1 T. celtic sea salt
approx. 6 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

*BEFORE YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • If your sourdough starter is at room temperature, feed it 8-12 hours before you plan to make the recipe. Make sure you still have starter left for future use after removing the 3 cups the recipe calls for.
  • If your sourdough starter is in the fridge, take it out and feed it, then let it come to room temp which takes about an hour or so, before proceeding.

Directions:

1. Combine your sourdough starter, water, and salt.

2. Add about 4 cups of flour, then turn your mixer on (I used speed 1 on my Bosch) and continue to add flour in 1/4 c. increments until the dough starts to ‘clean’ the sides of the bowl. Knead it with the mixer for 5-6 min.

If I could impart any bread-making wisdom it would be: do NOT add too much flour! It takes time for the flour to soak up all the liquids, and when you let it set out for several hours (coming up later in the directions), it will become a bit stiffer. However, if you add so much flour right away that it looks like the ‘knead-by-hand’ bread dough we’re all familiar with, it will become too dry and your finished loaf of bread will taste like sawdust.

One way to tell if you’ve added enough flour is to take your finger and touch the dough. (Please turn the mixer off first. :)) You should notice that the dough sort of makes a sound as if you’d stuck your finger to the sticky side of a piece of tape and pulled if off again. You don’t want it to stick to you, but it should act like it wants to. Does that make sense?

3. Knead the dough in the mixer for 4-5 minutes. Stop and check to see if the dough has good elasticity. What you’re looking for is the ability to pinch a small chunk of it and stretch it upward. If it is somewhat smooth and stretches a good bit, you’re good. But if it breaks off right away, you’ll want to knead for another minute or so.

Alternately, you can knead by hand for about 8-12 minutes. If you do this I suggest putting oil instead of flour on your counter top as well as oiling your hands. A common mistake is adding too much flour to prevent your hands from sticking and you end up getting the dough too dry.

4. Place your dough in a large, well-oiled bowl. Flip it over and rotate it so that it’s completely coated. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it set in the refrigerator (or a cool room about 55 degrees or cooler) for twelve hours or overnight. OR you may leave your dough at room temperature for 5-6 hours.

5. After the dough has doubled in volume, oil your hands and counter top again. Cut dough into two equal portions.

6. Shape each portion into loaves (rolls, pizza, or whatever you want) and place them in oiled bread pans. Cover with damp towels again and let rise in a warm place until doubled. This takes about 1 1/2 – 3 hours, which of course means more souring time!

7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake in pre-heated oven for 45-60 minutes; until the tops are nicely browned and the loaves sound a bit hollow if you tap on them. Take the loaves out of the pans and cool on a wire rack.

Optional: brush tops with butter or water immediately after removing from the oven for a softer crust. (Butter is better, butter is better. . .)

That’s all there is to it! Just keep dreaming of that yummy slice of butter sourdough and give it a go.

Basic Sourdough Bread

Allergies Candida-Diet, Sourdough
Meal type Breads
Website Whole Intentions

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon celtic sea salt
  • 6 cups (more or less) flour (I use whole wheat)

Directions

1. *BEFORE YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE

If your sourdough starter is at *room temperature*, feed it 8-12 hours before you plan to make the recipe. Make sure you still have starter left for future use after removing the 3 cups the recipe calls for.

If your sourdough starter is *in the fridge*, take it out and feed it, then let it come to room temp which takes about an hour or so, before proceeding.
2. Combine your sourdough starter, water, and salt.
3. Add about 4 cups of flour, then turn your mixer on (I used speed 1 on my Bosch) and continue to add flour in 1/4 c. increments until the dough starts to 'clean' the sides of the bowl. Knead it with the mixer for 5-6 min.

If I could impart any bread-making wisdom it would be: do NOT add too much flour! It takes time for the flour to soak up all the liquids, and when you let it set out for several hours (coming up later in the directions), it will become a bit stiffer. However, if you add so much flour right away that it looks like the 'knead-by-hand' bread dough we're all familiar with, it will become too dry and your finished loaf of bread will taste like sawdust.

One way to tell if you've added enough flour is to take your finger and touch the dough. (Please turn the mixer off first. :)) You should notice that the dough sort of makes a sound as if you'd stuck your finger to the sticky side of a piece of tape and pulled if off again. You don't want it to stick to you, but it should act like it wants to. Does that make sense?
4. Knead the dough in the mixer for 4-5 minutes. Stop and check to see if the dough has good elasticity. What you're looking for is the ability to pinch a small chunk of it and stretch it upward. If it is somewhat smooth and stretches a good bit, you're good. But if it breaks off right away, you'll want to knead for another minute or so.

Alternately, you can knead by hand for about 8-12 minutes. If you do this I suggest putting oil instead of flour on your counter top as well as oiling your hands. A common mistake is adding too much flour to prevent your hands from sticking and you end up getting the dough too dry.
5. Place your dough in a large, well-oiled bowl. Flip it over and rotate it so that it's completely coated. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it set in the refrigerator (or a cool room about 55 degrees or cooler) for twelve hours or overnight. OR you may leave your dough at room temperature for 5-6 hours.
6. After the dough has doubled in volume, oil your hands and counter top again. Cut dough into two equal portions.
7. Shape each portion into loaves (rolls, pizza, or whatever you want) and place them in oiled bread pans. Cover with damp towels again and let rise in a warm place until doubled. This takes about 1 1/2 – 3 hours, which of course means more souring time!
8. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake in pre-heated oven for 45-60 minutes; until the tops are nicely browned and the loaves sound a bit hollow if you tap on them. Take the loaves out of the pans and cool on a wire rack.
9. Optional: brush tops with butter or water immediately after removing from the oven for a softer crust. (Butter is better, butter is better. . .)

 

 

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Paula
I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 18 years, mother of five, reluctant cook, full-time teacher, chocolate-snatcher, and children's author. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher'. I don't have initials after my name, a degree in anything but motherhood, or a framed certificate on my wall. What I do have is a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it. Oh, and I also might mention homesteading, homeschooling, fitness, herbs, faith, and anything else I'm thinking about. . . like wow, I need to refill my tea. . .
Paula
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Comments

  1. Paula says

    Halle – 19 hours of fermenting! Whoopee! I love your recipe and your photos. Now if we could just figure out how to make that recipe with wheat instead of spelt. . .

    I should try baking a loaf in my cast iron pan again – I miss that round shape and crusty crust!

    I'd love to bounce some ideas around with you. I'm a dump and mix kind of cook, but your loaf looks so pretty I might have to tweak this one a bit!

    Thanks for stopping by – come back and visit soon!

  2. Abbi says

    I have been thinking about trying sourdough again so it was fun to read your post. Thanks for the tip on not adding to much flour.

  3. Camilla says

    This looks challenging and rewarding. Just popped over from Rook No. 17's A Little Birdie Told Me… I might just give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Laura O in AK says

    Visiting from the Family Time Tuesday link up this week.

    Love your photos showing all the steps. I've tried doing sourdough bread in the past with ho-hum results. But, never did I see a recipe that said to let it sit for hours to ferment some more. I'll have to give this a try sometime soon. I just need more starter in the house first.

  5. Farmer's Wyfe says

    I've been admiring sour dough and mulling over making some. This is what I was thinking, too: more sour dough IN the dough, so I REALLY want to try it now!! Thanks so much for this. I came from Raising Homemakers and am a new follower. :)

  6. Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures says

    Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  7. Sara says

    Over the last year I have tried about 4-5 different whole wheat sourdough recipes, trying to find the best one. This one tops the cake! It is the lightest of them all and I like that it uses a lot of the starter! Thanks too for the tip of it sounding like scotch tape-that really helped!

  8. Krista says

    Would that be a tablespoon or teaspoon of salt. I am assuming a tablespoon since its capitalized but that seems like a lot of salt. I don’t want to mess this up. :)

  9. Janet says

    Hi-What if you do not have a bosch? Most recipes I see use one. It’s on my wish list. Would you be able to use the dough setting on a bread machine to mix the first round?
    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Janet,

      I haven’t used a bread machine in nearly six years – and even then it was quite sporadic. But if it were me, I’d give it a go. It’s still wheat bread, so it will still mix up like regular bread dough.

  10. says

    Paula, have you ever heard anything about not mixing up sourdough in metal bowls? My Kitchen Aid mixer has the stainless steel bowl, and it would save me a bit of trouble to be able to mix it up in there, but the recipe I used a year ago stressed to only use glass, ceramic, or wood. Any thoughts?

    • says

      Kristen, good question. I’ve heard that you don’t want to keep your sourdough starter in or stir your starter with anything metallic. But when it comes to mixing it and baking it, I believe it’s okay.

      If anyone else knows otherwise, feel free to chime in!

  11. Gudrun B says

    time to get my starter out again!!! this just makes me so hungry for home made again! i get organic sprouted bread (on Saturdays at half cost if there is any left) but nothing smells as good in the house as home made bread :)

    i was searching for your coconut chocolate “candy”… where is that???

    now i need to soak wheat and rye again :) thanks Paula :)

      • Gudrun B says

        Paula, thank you so much for your fast reply! since i always do 5 things at once i did not get the bread done, but it will just sour a little more :)
        now i need to put cocoa powder on my order list, those cubes sound soooo delicious! reading over the recipe i am wondering if i can mix the warm coconut oil and cocoa together without melting the oil… did you ever try that?
        i better get back to cleaning the kitchen so i have room to bake bread :)

        • says

          Ha! I smiled when I read your comment. My loaves that were rising ended up rising for nearly 48 hours before I remembered to bake them (unexpected company!). They still tasted great though and the extra souring sure didn’t hurt. :)

          You can absolutely mix warm coconut oil and cocoa together. You really don’t have to heat it, you just want it liquid and warm enough to be able to dissolve the cocao and stevia.

          • Gudrun B says

            have to leave a short FANTASTIC on the cocao cubes! third time i made them (every time a bit different) – since i am not a fan of stevia and do not have any i used raw sugar…. for any one interested it does not dissolve well; so for my third batch i ground it really fine; the cubes tend to have a bit of the sugar on the bottom, some a little more some a little less… taste extremely yummy! and this time i put some cinnamon and a pinch of sage in. Cannot taste the sage at all, but the cinnamon is delicious! and i only use 2 table spoons of sugar for one cup of cocoa –the coconut oil is an eyeballed cup :)

  12. Kim says

    I just had to tell you thanks! I made your sourdough last night and it was the BEST recipe I had ever tried! The crust wasn’t too thick and it was just the right kind of sour fluffy deliciousness in the center. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks again!
    Kim

    • says

      Thanks for stopping back in and letting me know how it turned out! I’m so glad you liked it! I’m not always the best at measuring, I’m a dump and pour gal, so it’s good to know my measurements are working for others too! LOL

  13. Amy Heflin says

    I am a bit confused, I thought this was a Candida allowed bread, but it contains flour. Can this be made with candida accepted flours, like coconut or almond?

    • says

      Hi Amy,

      I’m sorry you’re confused, and it’s a bit of an explanation so bear with me. :) When I started a *very strict* candida diet I found on the internet a few years ago, sourdough was not allowed. This is the diet I’ve previously been sharing here on my site.

      During that time I included this recipe on my site because our kids eat it and it is still very healthy to those who can eat wheat.

      However, just recently I’ve been chatting with a naturopath with over 20 years experience in treating candida and his diet is a bit more relaxed in ways. He does say sourdough (no added yeast) can be eaten by some candida sufferers. Like most health-related items though, it really depends on how your body reacts to it. Someone with a more severe case of candida might not be able to eat sourdough while someone with a less sensitive case can.

      I am in the middle of writing a candida cookbook ebook and at the same time my blog is getting some behind the scenes face lifts done so I haven’t had time to come back in here and update all the recipes. Hoping to get to that this summer . . .

      Does that clear it up a bit or did I just muddle it more? LOL

      • Amy Heflin says

        Thank you very much for responding. Your response does clear it up. I started the Candida Diet 3 weeks ago on my own b/c I could not afford to see the first nutritionalist I went to. I have elminated all grains, dairy, eggs(until this week) and sugar. I am making plans to see a closer nutritionalist asap b/c I hate this diet and am starving! But I have lost over 12 pounds which is much needed. I have been doing tons of online research and found that many sites vary as to what those with Candida can eat. I have not been diagnosed with Candida but that of a Leaky Gut. I just came across Candida and did the spit test and it came back positive. So I thought heck, why not try the diet! Thanks a bunch! Amy

  14. Rachael says

    This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It’s from Sourdough’s International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.

  15. Tasha says

    I started to try using sourdough starter in the spring and I had some really good results with cakes, pancakes and such, but I really struggled with making bread. (out of 4 attempts, all but 1 ended up being inedible. :( However, my 4th turned out–yeah me–but, it was an artisan type bread and not so good for sandwiches.)

    I CAN’T WAIT to try out the recipe you posted. Thank you! I

  16. Angela says

    Hi.

    This recipe looks wonderful and thank you for the dough description. As in telling us in clear detail with pics the consistency to expect. I have a question and after reading so many recipes and techniques, and people saying its as much an art as a science, I kind of wing some things..lol…
    However, I do have a question maybe you can help me with. The first 3 times I tried sourdough, my dough falls after I put the razor slice in it. When I made this one, with variations, I dint put the slices in it and I let it do it’s only rise in the bread pan. It still fell. The crust is fantastic and the crumb is soft and holey…(lack of a better word) It was just not as full as it could have been. So either I let it overproof, which it dint look like it when I placed it in the oven, or…..could the steam cause it to fall ? Any ideas out there ?

  17. Regina says

    Made this today, and it was *wonderful*! The entire family loved it. Nice crust, fluffy crumb, just the right ‘sourness’ for us. I was looking for a sourdough recipe that leverages *only* the sourdough starter to raise the bread, without adding extra yeast and especially without adding more flour just before baking. Yay! Thank you!

  18. Amanda says

    I really want to make this bread but I have a quick question. How thick is your starter? My starter is pretty new and it’s the first time I have ever tried doing a sourdough starter. Yours looks quite runny in the picture and mine is more the consistency of melted marshmallow. When I tried making the bread it didn’t turn out but it seemed like it needed more liquid. I was wondering if maybe my starter isn’t liquid enough?

    • says

      When I feed my starter I use about equal amounts of flour and water, with just a bit more water. So for instance, if I use 1 c. flour, I’d add about 1 1/4 c. water. I do tend to like my starter a little runny. :)

      I’d say give it another go and see how it turns out. I’d love to hear what happens this time round.

  19. says

    Paula, do you think this recipe could be made with an all purpose gluten free flour or do you need the wheat for it to come out? I noticed that Cultures of Health makes a brown rice flour, gluten free starter. They offer some GF recipes but they sure aren’t candida diet friendly with added sugar and potato startch. I’m just at a stage with the candida that I don’t think I should have wheat.

    • says

      Hi Trish,

      I have never tried GF sourdough before, so I really don’t know what to tell you. If it was me though, I’d definitely give it a shot. However, most all-purpose GF flour blends have some kind of starchy flour (tapioca or potato) added. Be careful what blends you purchase. :)

  20. Stephanie Allen says

    Hello,
    I found your blog when googleing Robinson Curriculum forums. I have been reading all your articles. I am very interested in trying my luck with the sourdough. My son is ADHD and eats lots of bread. This would be a big help if we could start eating only sourdough. My biggest question is the flour being used. What is the exact type of flour you use in the starter and the recipe? Also is it only purchased at health food stores? Thank you in advance for your time.

    • says

      Hi Stephanie,

      I buy my starter at Cultures for Health (http://bit.ly/14NWCZR) and I feed my starter with fresh ground hard red organic wheat berries.

      I hope you have good success with your starter, however, I do want to caution you. I don’t have a child with ADHD but I do have several nephews with it. From what I’ve read and seen, bread can aggravate ADHD. I’d definitely recommend making and using sourdough if you do use wheat, but also consider trying to bake with almond or coconut flour. They’re a little different to work with, but they still make delicious baked goods. :)

      • Stephanie Allen says

        Hi Paula,

        Thank you so much for responding, I hope you can be patient with me as I want to understand this process.

        I did buy the culture already, it is the New England Sourdough Starter. I knew nothing about all the flavor choices and this one said good for bread, pancakes and rolls. I would like to make all of these because as I said we do eat a lot of bread and my son has ADHD, this is a big reason for wanting to try the sourdough aside from just the health of it. Anyway, my biggest question now is: The starter is fed with flour and the recipes for bread and pancakes, etc all call for flour. What is the best flour to use? Would I buy an unbleached whole wheat flour from Wal-Mart or what? The Starter does recommend starting with a white flour but said you can change after. Am I making sense? Would you please email me if this is too much for the comment section. Thanks so much, I am anxious to begin my starter!

        • says

          Hi Stephanie,

          If the starter recommends beginning with white flour, I’d follow those instructions. You can pretty much use any store-bought white flour to get it bubbling and going. For health reasons I’d suggest eventually (after about three weeks of steady feeding every 12 hours) switching to freshly ground organic whole wheat flour. If organic or freshly ground is not within your means then yes, the unbleached whole wheat flour would be my next choice.

          Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS.com uses spelt flour sometimes too and she’s a wealth of information about sourdough – I learned from her. :) You can check out her A to Z Sourdough ebook or Sourdough ecourse – I’d highly recommend either one. (affiliate links)

  21. Amber Clinkard says

    First time ever baking sourdough bread… I followed your directions but used less flour. For some reason I didn’t not use 6 cups, more like just under 5. I put in refridgerator overnight but it did not rise at all that I could tell. Is it supposed to rise overnight in the fridge? That was my only question. I then formed into a loaf and formed half into 6 buns to rise at room temp for 3 hours and then put in the oven…. much to my amazment it turned out PERFECTLY!! The tastiest sourdough EVER. SO EASY too. Thank you.

    • says

      Because I use pure wheat flour (I don’t add any white), my sourdough doesn’t rise much at all whether in the fridge or on the counter. Like yours though, it still rises in the oven and turns out delicious. I’m thinking that the pure wheat is too heavy to do much rising. :)

      So glad it turned out for you! Yumminess is yours!

    • says

      Making sourdough with GF flours isn’t easy as it doesn’t work as well without the gluten. I’ve never tried it myself, but have done a small amount of reading on it. I know you can ADD GF flour to a wheat sourdough, but I don’t know if you can make it completely GF.

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