Easy Sourdough Starter (with new troubleshooting tips)

Easy Sourdough Starter | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Before we even start, if you’ve already tried this recipe and are having trouble getting your sourdough starter to the “very-active” stage, or if your loaves aren’t rising well, or if they’re too dense, you can skip to the Troubleshooting tips below… scroll waaaay down. If you’re new to this page, start right here with this post about sourdough starter. –Jeff

The recipe that excites us most in our latest book, The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, is the easy Sourdough Starter. We’re admitted baking geeks, so spending hours on a recipe can be exciting to us, but we know this concept sounds like work to some and just terrifies others. That’s why we set out to write these books in the first place, being able to compel busy people to bake bread at home has been our mission. Now you can also create a sourdough starter (in French, levain); easily, without fear and without dedicating your whole day to the project. In fact, it only takes a few minutes a day to get your starter up and running. It really is that easy, but it takes several days to get your starter strong enough to actually use in a batch of bread. Until it is ready to go, you can always bake any of the other yeast filled recipes in our books.

All you need to make your sourdough starter is flour, water and a container to keep it in. Nothing special or fancy. Just make sure the container can hold at least two quarts of starter. You’ll see some Baking Bloopers below of what happens if your container is too small.

Sourdough Bread Loaf | Easy Sourdough Starter | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Once you have created your starter you can use it to bake beautiful loaves, with or without added yeast. The flavor is incredible and you will still be making a large batch of dough and storing it for up to a week, so you will do the work on one day for many loaves.

To make the starter:

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Master Recipe from “New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!

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(The pictures in this post are by Stephen Scott Gross, who did the photography For New Healthy Bread in Five).

When we first wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day in 2007 we were immediately asked how to convert the recipes to whole grains. We knew then that we’d be writing another book to satisfy the appetite for healthier breads. We also discovered gluten-free flours and developed our first breads made with them. The book answered a lot of questions and concerns about eating whole grains, but since 2009, when it first came out, we’ve learned even more. Our readers have become curious about ancient grains, baking with sourdough starter and they wanted even more 100% whole wheat. Well, we got the opportunity to create a new edition of the book and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Revised and Updated with New Recipes. (more…)

Four-Leaf Clover Broccoli & Cheddar Buns for St. Patrick’s Day

Broccoli Cheddar Clover Buns | Breadin5 (2 of 5)

They say that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and I hope that’s true, because I love the Irish—for their music, their literature, their Guinness Stout, and for their food. It’s been many years since I was in Ireland, but I remember swooning over the fresh, wild salmon, buttered potatoes (of course), and the moist and flavorful brown bread. But brown bread’s not particularly festive (or green!), and Zoë and I don’t have a recipe for classic Irish soda bread, which is made without yeast (for that, I rely on James Beard’s recipe in Beard on Bread—the first bread I ever made). Then Zoë reminded me about our broccoli & cheddar buns in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Turns out four-leaf clovers aren’t especially Irish, but they’re very lucky! Sprinkled with cheese, these cheddar buns make a lovely and healthy accompaniment to corned beef and cabbage. One little disclosure—the broccoli doesn’t make it all that deeply green, as you can see. Some would have used green food coloring, I suppose. Bain taitneamh as do bhéil! Hearty appetite (I think). (more…)

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Master Recipe! (Back to Basics updated)

Artisan Bread | Breadin5

Since Zoe first published these photos a few years back, it’s become one of our most popular posts. Why? It answers many of the questions that you asked us here on the site, and we’ve incorporated that into our new book, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Thank you all for making this new edition possible–our readers are where the new ideas come from. If you’re having trouble getting this recipe to turn out the way you’d like, check out the troubleshooting tips on our FAQs page here. 

For our Master Recipe:

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The new edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is available for Pre-Order!

The new edition of the best-selling bread cookbook

We are very, very excited about this NEW version of our first book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. So, what’s new? It’s nearly 150 pages longer, with lots of new recipes, techniques, and WAY more photos (40 gorgeous color and 100 black-and-white instructional shots). There are over 30 brand-new recipes and fun variations, including Crock Pot Bread, Pull-apart Rolls, Pretzel Buns, Stuffed French Toast, gluten-free breads, and lots more.

All our old favorites are still there, and thanks to your suggestions, we’ve added weight measures to all the dough recipes in the book, both U.S. (pounds/ounces) and metric (grams). We’ve expanded our Tips and Techniques section, and included instructions for adjusting salt and yeast to your taste.

As always, you’re pre-mixing dough that can be stored in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, so active time is still only five minutes a day. There’ll be much more to talk about in October when the book hits the stores, but we just had to give you a sneak peek at the beautiful new cover.

Two years in the making, this sixth-anniversary edition of our first book–The New Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day–is available for Pre-Order from online sellers.  If you pre-order, it’ll ship on October 22, 2013, which is the official publication date. Thanks for all the feedback you’ve given us here–it’s shaped the new book. Cheers!

Gray color and liquid on my dough: Is there something wrong?

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As your dough stores in the refrigerator, it might develop a uniform gray discoloration and liquid on its surface or at the bottom of the bucket.  This is not mold* and can be safely ignored. Here are ways to deal with this dough.

If your dough has a leathery gray top and liquid on the bottom:

Old Dough | Breadin5 01

If you have a bucket of dough that was untouched for several days, it may develop a gray cast to it. As we mentioned this is safe to consume, but it may have a tough, almost leathery texture. If the dough has become hard and leathery, that suggests that there’s too much air-space in your container (or that it isn’t sealed well enough).  You can decrease the effect of air that gets into the container by transferring into smaller containers as the dough is getting used up.

Old Dough 2 | Breadin5 06

Another way to prevent too much air from getting into your bucket is to poke a small hole in the lid, that way you can snap it shut, but still let the gases escape.

Old Dough | Breadin5 02

You can simply ignore the gray portion of the dough and form it into a loaf, but you will likely end up with a streak of gray in your dough and that area may be dense. If you’d prefer not to use the gray part, the dough underneath will be creamy in color and full of flavor, so you’ll want to use it. Just peel off or scoop up, depending on the texture, the gray portion of the dough.

Old Dough | Breadin5 03

If you find liquid under the dough, which can happen if your dough has sat untouched for several days, just add enough flour to absorb that liquid and get your dough back to the consistency of the original dough.

Old Dough | Breadin5 04

Mix in the flour and let it sit until the new flour absorbs all the liquid.

Old Dough | Breadin5 05

It is now ready to use to make bread. Click here to see Fresh Bread made from Older Dough. The dough may spread more than usual, but you will get a lovely loaf that is full of flavor.

If you only have a tiny bit of dough left, even if it is gray and liquidy, you can incorporate it into your next batch of dough to jump-start the flavor in your next batch: Click here to find out how.

*If you see patchy light or dark areas on your dough, whether smooth or fuzzy, that could be mold and the dough should be discarded. You are not likely to see mold if you follow our directions for maximum storage life, and keep the dough in the refrigerator.

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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