1 July 2007

Today’s cheese sandwich was made with sourdough bread (updated)

The following two recipes, for a starter and a sourdough loaf, were cobbled together a couple of years ago using various recipes from the internet. I fiddled and twiddled until I found the right combination for our tastes and my machine (I usually make the dough in the breadmachine, although not always. Sometimes a bit of therapeutic kneading is necessary … it’s also a good school holiday activity and as the children finished Term 2 on Friday, I foresee lots of homemade bread over the next two weeks).

Sourdough Starter

Mix together in a glass or ceramic bowl 2 cups tepid water, 2 cups bread flour (a good quality all purpose flour with a high protein content), and 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast. Mix with a plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal bowls or implements) and sit, covered, in a warm location for a week, gently stirring once a day. Now your starter is ready to use. (A starter may take a good month to become really sour, but you can use it after a week.)

When you use some of your starter to make a loaf, you must ‘feed’ the remaining starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water. If you don’t use your starter once a week, you must throw away a cup of it and feed it with fresh flour and water.

Starters can also be frozen if you are going away on holiday. When you return, thaw the starter in the fridge, and when thawed, remove a cupful and feed as usual.

Usually when I give someone this recipe, I give them a cup of my starter too. We’ll just pretend that bit today.

sourdough starter

Sourdough Bread

1/2 cup tepid water
1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp yeast

Make the dough, either by hand or in your breadmachine’s dough setting.

Update/amendment: I forgot to say that breadmachines do the mix, knead and first rise. If you make the dough by hand, let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size, then punch down. When it's risen a second time, continue on as below ...

sourdough dough

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently into a round shape, pulling all creases to the bottom. Place the dough smooth side down into a bowl lined with a floured teatowel. Cover and stand in a warm location for an hour or until doubled in size.


Turn the bowl onto a greased oven tray and gently remove the teatowel. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.

Bake on the middle shelf of a hot (210 celsius) oven with a dish of boiling water on the bottom shelf to create steam, for 20 minutes. Reduce to a moderate (180 celsius) heat and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool on a wire rack.

sourdough loaf2

Sometimes I make it in a loaf shaped pan which makes lunchbox sandwiches easier.

You can throw in a selection of seeds either at the kneading stage, or sprinkle on top before baking.


Or you can turn the dough into rolls of course.


Sourdough makes great toast, is a fabulous accompaniment to soups and stews, and makes a mean cheese sandwich with a hefty dollop of homemade chutney.


Molly said...

I've always wanted to try making starter, so I could make my own sourdough. This might be just the nudge I need...Only problem--it's really hot and muggy here right now.

Jamila/(really Asiya!) said...

thanks for this recipe, I'll have to try. It's definetely breadmaking weather!

shula said...

Does starter donation travel?

I've been dying to try this.

Simmy said...

Hi Suse,

Thanks for the bread recipe. I've always wanted to try sourdough but have been worried that the strong taste would put the children off and that I'd end up eating it all!

Will defintately give it a go as you've made it look so easy.

shula said...

Is that fresh yeast or dry in the bread recipe?

I'm so excited.

tut-tut said...

Our starter is over 15! it seems so complicated, but is so simple, as you described so beautifully.

Leah said...

Thanks for that - the dourdough stall is always our first stop at the markets, and I'd love to try it myself.

Janet said...

Mmm, Suse that's a mighty fine looking loaf you have there...

I had a starter that was ten years old and then it died of neglect. Maybe it's time to try again.

Kim said...


We've been investigating this whole notion and now, if I don't have a baby tonight, I will be starting the started tomorrow.

It seems fitting that we'll be able to talk about the starter to our sourdough as something that began with the arrival of #4.

telfair said...

That is gorgeous bread. In Australia I did all my bread by hand, but since I'm back to full-time employment, GB is the breadmaker using the bread machine.

I tried to make a sourdough starter once, but I forgot about it in the back of the fridge for months on end and then decided it was best to send the little fellow to a watery grave down the drain.

BabelBabe said...

wow, am i hungry. i could go for a big fat warm roll of that, with some butter. that i could eat, which is saying something at this nauseated stage of pregnancy!

sooz said...

Wow, I've never heard of adding yeast to a starter! I have always made sourdough using the method outlined by John Downes (of natural tucker fame). He just uses flour and water and lets the natural yeasts in the air ferment it. You don't add any yeast to the dough either - he claims wild and commercial yeasts compete and commercial yeast kills off the wild ones to our digestive detriment. Which may or may not be true. In my last abode I went for 5 years making bread from the one starter but I can't seem to keep one alive in my present house - I suspect something in the water? And have you tried the no-knead bread featured in the New York Times and popping up on blogs near and far? It is fabulous!

Stomper Girl said...

Hey!! I've got ezzackly the same mixing bowl as you. I guess this means I will have to make myself a starter. And then work out how to do the dough thing without a machine..

Sinda said...

Do you have any problems during your hot summer months? I don't know if I can commit to a once-a-week date, but I sure wish I could, it looks easy and delish!

Yummers! said...

My husband is the baker in our house... a hobby along with his cooking. I'm not going to argue with that!! So, thanks for the recipe & pictures. My husband says "Thanks!" too.

Do you have a good receipe for scones?

Yummers! said...

Whoops... spelled recipe wrong.

Lazy cow said...

Maybe this will be the holidays I finally make bread. Thanks for the recipe.
Hope you found the perfect tiles!

nutmeg said...

Do you know what was missing from the Kingsolver book - how to make and bake the bread! She kept alluding to her husbnd making it but never elaborated. It would have made a great addition to the book.

Oh well, you have filled their hole so nicely. It's coming off the printer here as I write. Thanks Suse.

Isabelle said...

All they said, but also how strange it is here, in high summer (ok, wet, cool, but really light) to think of you having the winter solstice.

My float said...

Are you sure you didn't buy that loaf from a village bakery? :)

I'm going to try this as soon as we move.

victoria said...

I love this recipe! I've been on a bread kick and this was a nice addition to my collection. I have one question: what do you do if you want to double the amount you want to make?