Baking Sourdough Bread

by Sherrie LaRose

By Amanda DelVicario

One of the best things about living at the sustainability house is the constant availability of fresh bread. Whether it be white, wheat, sourdough, seed or fruit filled, there always seems to be some sort of fresh baked bread around.

And the process of making this bread is surprisingly easy. While the commercialization of bread production has removed the imperative nature of remembering how to make bread, recipes are still being passed down from generation to generation. Everyone knows all you need to make bread is flour, water, salt, and a package of yeast.

Wait! A package of yeast! But how did our ancestors make bread before commercial yeast was available? The answer: sourdough

Creating a sourdough starter is the natural way of making yeast. By combining flour and water and letting it sit out to ferment, naturally occurring yeast in the air begin to do their work! The result? A sour tasting, yeast filled mixture that can be used to make bread. The resulting bread is healthier too. It has a lower glycemic index, as the acids produced by the sourdough culture slow down our body’s absorption of the bread’s sugars. Additionally, the bread has a lower gluten content, as the fermentation process partially breaks down the gluten and makes it easier for our bodies to digest.

So now it’s time for you to try making some sourdough bread of your own!

The first thing you need to do is to create a sourdough starter. Remember that this provides the yeast for the bread you will make later, and when you’re starting from scratch it can take a while for a healthy population to accumulate, so try to start your sourdough starter a week or two before you want to make bread. To make your sourdough starter do the following steps:

Needed ingredients:

- 2 cups water

- 2 cups flour

Day 1:

  1. In a container that had a lid, add ½ cup flour and ½ water.
  2. Stir flour and water together.
  3. Cover container and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2:

  1. Add ½ flour and ½ water to your sourdough starter.
  2. Stir flour and water together.
  3. Cover container and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 3: Repeat day 2 instructions

Day 4: Repeat day 2 instructions

By day 5 you should have a nice thick, bubbly sourdough starter mixture that is ready to be used!

Once you’re rolling you can keep your starter in the fridge and revive it whenever you want to use it with fresh water and flour a few days before baking.

Sourdough bread recipe:

Needed ingredients:

- 1 cup sourdough starter

- 1 cup water

- 6 cups flour

- 1 tablespoon salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl add one cup of your sourdough starter.
  2. Add 1 cup water, ½ cup of flour, and 1 tablespoon of salt and mix into the sourdough starter.
  3. Continue adding flour in ½ cup increments until you have a thick, malleable dough. This will be when you’ve added approximately 6 cups flour.
  4. Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed it against a floured table for at least five minutes. If the dough is sticking to your hands or the table, add small amounts of flour and kneed into the dough.
  5. Work the dough into a ball and place onto the table. Poke a finger into the dough. If the dough holds its shape on the table and bounces back from the poke, move on to the next step. If not, move back to step #4.
  6. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let sit in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
  7. Oil a bread pan.
  8. Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and kneed it for another five minutes.
  9. Shape the dough into the size of the bread pan, and place into the oiled bread pan.
  10. Cover the bread and let rise in the bread pan for another hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400˚F
  12. Slash the top of the bread with a razor to let the bread expand properly.
  13. Place the bread in the oven, and bake for approximately 1 hour until bread is cooked all the way through.
  14. Take the bread out to cool, slice and enjoy!

Note: Making sourdough bread is an art! So feel free to experiment a little. Add more sourdough starter, less water, milk, eggs, or oil, and see how it turns out!