Baking with a SourDough Starter

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Friends! I Finally have a new post for you all! This post is FILLED with information, but I will start with my recipe and photo. I had been wanting to start a sourdough starter for quite some time now. However, I knew that I needed a bit of free time to figure it all out. Lucky for you, I did the experimenting and research myself and placed in this one post. I could not be happier with this bread! I’ve made a fair amount of bread in the past couple of years, but Gluten is sadly not always my friend. While this bread is NOT gluten free, the amount of gluten remaining after the proofing periods is a lot less than normal bread. This makes it much easier to digest and enjoy. I personally try to limit the intake of this bread, nevertheless. I mainly make it for my husband who LOVES it for his lunches.

NOTE: While this is classified as Sourdough bread. It really isn’t very sour at all. It really depends on how long you let the dough proof and which type of sourdough starter you use. 


    • 2 1/3 cup fresh sourdoughstarter
    • 3 1/3 cups flour
    • 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
    • Scant TBS salt
    • cast iron dutch oven

Lodge Color EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Island Spice Red, 6-Quart


  1. Mix sourdough starter, flour and salt together. Use enough water to make the bread dough. (you want it to be on the moist side)
  2. Knead the dough until it passed the “window pane test”. I HIGHLY recommend watching this video _DSC0450
     NOTE: I highly recommend watching the video and kneading this dough the first couple times by hand! You never want to
    over knead the dough, Doing it by hand will allow you to feel how the dough changes, it is pretty remarkable! Then after a couple times, you can use your kitchen aid with dough hook, or what ever else you enjoy. 
  3. At this point you can do a couple different things. I prefer to make artisan loaf’s, but you can check the links at the end of the post for more recipes.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball  Let proof or rise for 4 to 24 hours. I usually like to make this the night before and let rise  on a piece of parchment paper over night with a clean dish towel over top. (You may want to add flour to the towel to keep it from possibly sticking) (It takes me about 10-20 minutes to prepare the dough.)
  5. After dough has rose. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees with the dutch oven INSIDE!
  6. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Then uncover it for the remainder of time. This takes roughly 45 minutes. Every oven is different. Check the internal temperature of the bread until it reaches 200-210 degrees. I usually pull mine right at 200 since it will continue to cook a little bit.
  7. Lastly, the hardest part! LET IT COOL!! Place on a cooling rack for at LEAST 15 minutes. This is very important. You must use a cooling rack, otherwise it will get soggy on the bottom. No one wants a soggy bottom. 😉
  8. ENJOY!

Please check below for all the science and other information about Sourdough starters! It really is an amazing process! 

The dough I chose from Cultures of Health: Originating near Paris, France, Parisian Sourdough Starter Culture makes a wonderful French bread. Easy to use. For best results, we recommend feeding your sourdough starter weekly.

This sourdough starter is available as a dried culture. Dried sourdough starters are shelf-stable and do not have to be fed or cared for immediately. Dried sourdough starters can be ready to create baked goods within 3 to 5 days.

Detailed instructions will be included with your order. Click here to view our Parisian Sourdough Starter instructions.

Q. What is sourdough?

A. Sourdough is an ancient method of capturing wild yeast to leaven baked goods. A sourdough culture is originally created by mixing flour and water and allowing the mixture to sit on a counter, preferably by an open window for a period of time to capture wild yeast. Once established a sourdough culture is easy to care for, can potentially last indefinitely, and can be used to create a variety of baked goods.

Q. Where did your sourdough cultures come from?

A. Our sourdough cultures originated all over the world and carry the unique yeasts from their respective geographic regions.

Q. What ingredients do your sourdough cultures contain?

A. Our sourdough cultures contain water, flour, and wild yeast. We use only organic flour and filtered water to perpetuate our sourdough cultures.

Q. Why use sourdough instead of commercial yeast?

A. Sourdough has several advantages over commercial yeast:

  • Sourdough is the most natural and traditional method for leavening baked goods. While commercial yeast is manufactured, sourdough is perpetuated through a natural process.
  • Sourdough naturally provides a more complex taste to baked goods.
  • Sourdough is more versatile. Depending on the amount of time you ferment the sourdough (see below), you can achieve a bread ranging from no hint of sourness to a very sour bread.
  • With a sourdough culture, you never again need to buy yeast. A small amount of flour and water each week will keep your sourdough culture fed and healthy.

Q. Are your sourdough cultures dairy-free? Vegan?

A. Our sourdough cultures contain no animal byproducts.

 Q. Do you carry a gluten-free sourdough starter?

A. At this time we offer a brown rice flour version of our New England Sourdough Starter. Please note: although this starter is maintained with brown rice flour, it may contain trace amounts of gluten. Click here to view a recipe for gluten-free sourdough bread.

Q. Are sourdough cultures reusable?

A. Yes, our sourdough cultures are traditional starter cultures and are meant to be used for many years. We even know someone who has had their sourdough culture for over 30 years!

Q. What are the primary differences between sourdough starters?

A. The primary differences between the sourdough cultures are the types of flour they were grown with (white, rye, whole wheat, etc.) and the different wild yeast from their respective geographic regions. Several cultures do have some unique properties:

  • Ischia tends to be a bit more sour when allowed to fully ferment.
  • New Zealand Rye sourdough is our fastest-proofing culture. (generally just under 3 hours: adjust your recipes accordingly).
  • Alaskan has an uncharacteristically short proof period.
  • Austrian has a longer proof period than most other sourdough cultures.
  • Many people claim the San Francisco sourdough culture has a particularly unique taste.
  • New Zealand, Swedish, and Danish cultures are made with rye flour.
  • Flemish-style Desem is made with whole wheat flour.

Click here to see a comparison chart of the different sourdough starters.

Q. Are your sourdough cultures very sour?

A. Actually no; they are only very slightly sour (with the exception of our Ischia sourdough culture which is just a bit more sour than our other sourdough cultures). Sourdough actually refers to a method of capturing and perpetuating wild yeast rather than the dominant taste which results. Our sourdough cultures come from all over the world and given the geographic differences, and different varieties of wild yeast available, each sourdough culture has its own unique taste. Sourdough provides a way to utilize wild rather than commercially grown and processed yeast in baked goods. It is also very cost-effective as it requires minimal care to perpetuate indefinitely. If you desire a truly sour taste to your baked goods, there is a method to develop the sourness of the sourdough culture for a specific baking project and instructions for doing so will be included with your order. Keep in mind that the sourdough bread purchased in most stores is not a true sourdough and rather has been made by adding a sour-tasting substance to the dough.

Q. How is working with sourdough different than working with commercial yeast?

A. There are a couple of fundamental differences between baking with sourdough and baking with yeast:

  • Sourdough does require minimal care (weekly feedings).
  • You do have to do a bit of advance planning to bake with sourdough as your starter will need to be fed 1 to 3 times prior to using it for baking. (See below for information on making “fresh starter” for recipes and for fermenting sourdough to achieve a more sour flavor.)
  • Sourdough requires a longer rise time than commercial yeast. Plan to allow your sourdough bread 4 to 24 hours to rise (depending on temperature, other environmental factors and desired sourness). If you do not have that much time to allow the bread to rise, a pinch (just a pinch!) of instant commercial yeast (make sure it’s the instant variety) will speed the rise process while retaining the complex sourdough flavor.

Q. What is “fresh sourdough starter” that is called for in most recipes?

A.  Fresh sourdough starter is a term often used in recipes to refer to recently fed, active sourdough starter. Refrigeration places the sourdough starter in a state of hibernation which allows a starter to go at least a week without being fed, but also yields the yeast temporarily ineffective as a leavening agent. To bring the starter out of cold-induced hibernation and ensure the yeast is active enough to properly leaven bread, the sourdough starter should be fed at least three times to fully activate the yeast prior to using the starter for a baking project.

  • Start the fresh starter process by removing 1/4 cup of sourdough starter from the refrigerator. (If a liquid layer has developed on top of your starter, pour off the liquid layer first.)
    • If using a kitchen scale: Add flour and water in amounts equal (by weight) to the amount of starter. For example, for 50 grams of sourdough starter, mix in 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water. The scale method is preferred due to significant differences in flour density.
    • If using measuring cups: Use one part sourdough starter to one part water to a little less than two parts flour. For example, if you are starting with 1/4 cup of starter from the refrigerator, mix in 1/4 cup water and a scant 1/2 cup flour.
  • Cover and allow the mixture to sit for 4 to 12 hours until it has “proofed.” (The amount of time will depend primarily on the nature of the specific sourdough starter and room temperature.) Sourdough that has proofed becomes light and bubbly. The gas created often causes the sourdough starter to expand in size so be sure to use a sufficiently sized jar and set the jar on a paper towel to protect the surrounding surfaces in case the starter bubbles over. If the sourdough does not become bubbly within 12 hours, proceed with the next feeding.
  • Repeat this process at least two more times. For each feeding use equal amounts of starter, flour, and water by weight, or use the measuring cup ratios above. If you make too much sourdough starter during this process, prior to the next feeding some starter can be discarded or set aside to make sourdough pancakes.
  • If at any point during this process a liquid layer develops on the sourdough starter, pour off the liquid layer prior to the next feeding. The liquid layer is generally a sign the starter needs to be fed more often so feedings should be moved closer together (i.e., feed the starter every 8 hours instead of 12 hours, etc.).
  • Once the starter has been fed for at least three cycles and is bubbling reliably within several hours of being fed, measure out the portion needed for the recipe.
  • Be sure to add some of the extra fresh starter back to your master sourdough starter in the refrigerator. This process feeds the sourdough starter for the week.




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