Easy Sourdough Starter

The recipe that excites me most in our latest book, The The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, is the easy Sourdough Starter. I’m an admitted baking geek, so spending hours on a recipe can be exciting to me, but I know this concept sounds like work to some and just terrifies others. That’s why Jeff and I 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; 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.

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: (more…)

Fresh Bread made with Older Dough

Old dough boule | Breadin5 04

As I am testing recipes, I can find myself with several buckets going at once. I have a family of four and we just can’t always use up all that dough in a timely fashion. I just opened a bucket of dough that had been untouched for several days, well more than several and it was gray, leathery and had some liquid on it (pictures below). It had a strong “sourdough” smell to it, since it had been fermenting for a very long time. For those of us who like that kind of character in our bread, it was very exciting. BUT, there wasn’t that much dough left and if I were to peel back the leathery bits to get to the creamy dough beneath, I wouldn’t even have enough dough for a full loaf. The best thing to do with this older dough is to incorporate it into a new batch. It jump starts the flavor in your new dough, without having to wait days for the fermentation. It is like having a sourdough starter, that you never had to feed. Although in the dough I will show you, I am using the full amount of Red Star Platinum yeast.

Old dough boule | Breadin5 07 (more…)

Sourdough Starter in our Recipes

Return to FAQ page

Yes, you can use activated sourdough starter in our recipes.  My own sourdough starter, after I activate it from the fridge, is about half water and half flour (you can find recipes for naturally-fermented sourdough starter all over the web, and one of our future books may have a recipe of our own). I’ve found that about 1 1/2 cups of activated sourdough starter works well in our full-batch recipes, which make 4 to 5 pounds of dough.  This means that you need to decrease the water in the recipes by 3/4 cup, and the flour by 3/4 cup. At the end, you’ll probably need to adjust water and flour to create a dough that looks and feels just like what you get with our yeast-based recipes.

So, having done this, do you need to use commercial yeast in addition?  I found that I still needed some yeast in the recipe, though I could use a lower dose, which I’ve posted about before in the context of our yeast-risen recipes.    That seems like a good compromise.  I did experiment with zero-yeast versions, but I found them a bit temperamental– didn’t store terribly well so we decided not to put that in our books… yet!

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

Return to FAQ page