Sourdough Baking

Sourdough Baking

Sourdough baking is a new hobby developed after I did Ancestry’s DNA test. I always liked to bake, but sourdough just wasn’t part of my repertoire. When I found out I was more Irish than even German (I still identify mainly as German), I thought maybe I should try Irish soda bread. But Laurie Price makes the best Irish soda bread that can be made. So I decided to I’d try something else. Another thing I learned is that so many of my lines started out in the original colonies, and over generations formed part of the Great Westward Migration. On January 1, I decided a trial of sourdough might be fun. I wanted to make the bread without commercial yeast. King Arthur Flour had a simple starter recipe. Some of the comments said to keep going with it even if it were not ready in 7 days. That was good advice. Mine took 12 days to “mature.”

My Sourdough Starter

In the first couple of weeks, I made 4 loaves of regular sourdough bread, and then branched out to try whole wheat. I – and the people who receive 1/2 loaf when I bake – seem to like both versions. After that, I tried rye. Rye flour is very dense. I quickly learned not to simply substitute it for other flours. After I found a recipe that added molasses and a higher percentage of water, the rye sourdough bread was good also.

Making Bread with the Sourdough

Simple sourdough bread without commercial yeast involves making a fairly wet dough, letting it rest for several hours, folding the dough in on itself, then letting it rest again. The next step is forming the dough into a ball, which is then placed into a form of some sort. I did not have a bread form. However, a bowl sprayed with vegetable oil and sprinkled with corn meal seemed to work OK. The dough then ripens in the refrigerator over night, in the form or bowl. In the morning it rises at room temperature for another 3 to 5 hours. When it is ready to bake, I turn it out onto parchment paper, score the top, and pop it in the over.

I’ve enjoyed this so much, I decided to buy a true bread form for making this simple bread. It came at the end of last week.

Sourdough Bread Form
Unpacking the New Bread Form
Sourdough Bread Form
Sourdough Bread Form
Sourdough Bread Form
The Pattern in the Bread Form
Sourdough bread
Whole Wheat Dough after a Night in Refrigerator
Sourdough Bread
Whole Wheat after Being at Room Temperature for a Few Hours
Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Bread Ready to Bake
Sourdough bread
The Finished Loaf of Whole Wheat Bread

Baking this simple bread and its variations has been a fun winter hobby. It is one that I think will continue for some time. There are so many combinations of flours, fruits, and nuts to explore. Sourdough seems so earthy and natural; a really enjoyable throwback to an earlier time. 🙂

ETA: Interesting article on the history of sourdough baking!

6 Replies to “Sourdough Baking”

    1. Hi, Elena. Years ago, I used to bake a lot. Yeast breads were one of the things I started out with as a young teen. In the past 10-20 years the only time I really bake is for holidays. This was a whim in the middle of winter, but it has been a fun new adventure. 🙂 Surprisingly, bread made with flour, water, and salt is as tasty as any, and it makes a wonderful sandwich bread. (My mother says melted cheese on white sourdough “is the best!”) Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  1. I grew up on sourdough pancakes and sourdough bread. My mom had sourdough starter that had supposedly been in the family for over 100 years. She would make sourdough pancakes every couple of weeks and sourdough bread, and would hold back a little to keep the starter going.

  2. Hi, Tim! I had not even thought about sourdough pancakes. I did make some sourdough biscuits while my starter was getting going. They were tasty, but took so much butter!!! Do you have any of your mom’s recipes for the pancakes or the breads she made?
    Hmmmm…can I think of sourdough as part of NM history too? It sounds like we can…

  3. I love your sour dough journey! The bread form is quite lovely, in itself. My cousin has a starter that is from the 1800s. (She’s a geneticist so values the ancestory of even bread!) I asked for a bit of it to have a go but failed, killing it from neglect when we went on vacation. You always make me excited to look into new things so I might have another try with some I start myself. (my mother started concocting breads later in her life and even won an award from a Better Homes and Gardens’ contest!) I love the smells of bread baking, what a nice way to spend time in the kitchen on these cool days.

    1. Hi, Laurie, So nice to see you! Sorry that you lost your portion of your cousin’s historic starter. I think you would enjoy starting your own, watching it mature, and then making things with it. That is very interesting, about your mom; thanks for sharing that. The scent of sourdough baking is just a little different from that with commercial yeasts, and I think I like it even better. I think it must stimulate a slightly different amount of the brain (that scent), and I find it extremely pleasant. I hope you do it, and let me know how much you enjoy it!

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