Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sourdough starter and bread

I started a new batch of sourdough for bread making last week. I had one last year, but I let it die :(

... fortunately this is not to hard to start. A little live culture soy yogurt, some flour, warm water and a wide mouth quart canning jar. Bryanna at vegan feast wrote this note on her 8-14-06 post. "If you are unfamiliar with sourdough, write to me at and I'll send you my vegan sourdough file. I have two sourdough starters, which are very reliable." I can agree with this statement. I made the yogurt starter version and it is easy and very active. It is the same recipe I used to make my starter last year. When this starter is active it can make a well risen loaf of bread without yeast.

Although I have a small kitchenaid like mixer, a bread machine, and the ability too make bread by hand, I prefer my BOSCH Universal. See the picture of it beside. I have two of these machines at the bakehouse and one in my home (along with two microburst grain mills for freah milled whole grain flour). For the past four summers I have made a variety of 75-100 loaves of organic whole grain (freshly miled from the wheat berry) loaves of bread a week. I took this summer off, but my BOSCH Universals are going strong. This was one of the first major kitchen appliance investments that I made (after a stove and frig), it is a time saver and absolutely wonderful. I can make 6 loaves of basic whole grain yeasted bread in 1 1/2 hours including clean... one time a week bread for the week and my cost... less than 50 cents a loaf. For my family of four, one loaf a day (sometimes more) is common.

I used the first (usually thrown out) of the starter removed from the jar to make bread even though the instructions say throw away. In the bread I do use yeast because my starter was so young and did not have enough "life" to raise the loaf, but it did give it that yummy sourdough taste. In this picture you see my loaf AND my jar of starter. I am now refreshing it daily. This bread uses up 1 1/2 cup of starter, leaving just enough to add 1 more cup of water and 1 cup of flour. This starter is made with spelt, but I have refreshed starter using white all purpose wheat four, fresh milled whole grain white hard wheat as well as red hard wheat, have tried it with a little rye added. I personally like my bread to have more of a tang, so I try to add a tablespoon of rye now and again when I refresh my starter.

European Dark Bread
This is really my favorite bread, almost... next to sourdough kalamata olive bread or roasted garlic bread and even then a good raisin walnut is a delight. :) This bread can be made into a round loaf, but because my family likes square sandwiches I made it in a large loaf pan. This bread is made so that it has a very hard thick crust, like a good dark european loaf but yet a soft tender inside. A good sharp bread knife is required to saw through this. Sometimes I "paint" the top with a little cornstarch/water mix and add a mix of seeds (poppy, sesame, flax) for decoration.

Add 1 ½ cups sourdough starter or start a poolish 24 hours before making the bread.
POOLISH: Put in a glass jar 1 ½ cups warm water and a pinch of yeast plus 1 cup unbleached bread flour. Mix well and let stand at room temperature covered for 24 hours. Place in a heavy duty mixer bowl equipped with dough hooks along with the following:

all of the poolish/ starter
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp flax seed
1 Tbsp sesame seed
3 Tbsp pumpkin seed (or sunflower seed)
2 Tbsp carob powder (or cocoa powder)
1/3 C cracked multi-grain cereal
(like that you would buy from Paul’s grains at the farmer’s market)
2 Tbsp millet
4 cups whole grain flour
(I use Montana Gold hard white wheat flour... Many coops and better grocery stores
now carry this brand and variation of whole wheat flour)
1 Tbsp yeast

* unbleached organic bread flour approximately 1 ½ - 2 cups, to be used in the final mixing step

Mix on low speed and then begin adding the unbleached bread flour 1 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough and the dough is cleaning the sides of the mixer bowl. Knead for 8 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough to an oiled bowl and let sit covered with oiled plastic wrap for 1 hour. Punch down dough and divide and shape dough into loaf size portions. Grease two standard loaf pans, add dough. Let loaves sit on top of oven while it is preheating (425 degrees), allow to rise until loaf size has doubled. Bake bread in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes. You want a loaf that is nearly over baked, but not burned. This gives the loaf a thick hard crust with a chewy inside like a traditional European loaf should have.

I GAVE A LOAF OF THIS BREAD DECORATIVELY WRAPPED IN A BASKET AS A WEDDING GIFT FOR A NEIGHBOR SATURDAY. The gift tag was a recipe that included a picture of the bread along with an invitation for the bride to stop by and pick up some of my starter for use if she ever wanted to make this bread.

I like the NORPRO waffle weave non stick bread pan. They are made in 8", 10", and 12" size. I I use these pans for the bread I make at the Bakehouse. All it takes is a little canola spray in each of these pans and the loaf will come right out. My pans have been used hundreds of times and they are still in great condition. Also, I do not wash my bread pans after each use unless I making something sticky.


Vicki said...

what a wonderful gift idea, dori! and thanks for posting your favorite bread recipe. great new look here too! :o)

Carrie™ said...

I can just imagine how wonderful your house smells! Fresh home made bread is so comforting. I've never made it with a sour dough starter. Seems easy enough from your description. I love the taste of sour dough bread too. Maybe I'll get adventurous.

Emmy said...

I love making homemade bread. Really enjoyed this post (well I enjoy all of your posts but this one especially, just thought I should clarify). What a nice wedding gift for your neighbor. Thanks for the heads up on the waffle weave bread pans. I've been looking for some good ones.

Harmonia said...

Great post. I love Sourdough! I'm so hungry right now I might have to go over and get a little something to take the edge off. Usually I bring something with me but I ran out of time today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post Dori!

I cooked my first batch of Sourdough bread on Friday night. It seemed to rise quite a bit and then I think it sunk a little (maybe I left it to rise too much). Bryanna's recipe said to cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown. For some reason, it never turned golden brown. It always had a weird whitish color.

I took it out of the oven and it was as hard as a rock. I was worried that I had cooked it too long. But by the next day, it was close to the texture of sourdough that you can buy in the store.

It tasted pretty good, but I can see there is still room for improvement.

What size of the bread pans do you use (at least, what size is in the loaf in the picture)?

Melody said...

Thank you for sharing more of your bread baking expertise...

One of these days, I will probably start saving for the bosch.. as I like to grind my wheat.. and the vita mix is great, but not for 100% whole wheat breads..

Nikki said...

Thanks for the bread post! It looks so wonderful, and seems like it might be easier than I think...

Jackie said...

Sounds great. I really must get myself a bread machine as manually making bread for one can be a bit of a hassle, so don't do it very often.

Good idea to give it as a gift.

Dori said...

VV- the bread pan I used for the laof in the picture was measures 5" x 9" x 2.5" inside. ... the indiustrial grade pan on the link provided in my post. I also responded to
your bread baking experience on your blog in a comment.

Bryanna said...

This looks like a great recipe, Dori! And my husband uses the same bread pans for his bread-- great shape!

Vivacious vegan-- when bread over-rises and sinks, it often does not color well and is a pale, almost grey color. this is an indication that the yeasties are weakened.

Shananigans said...

I haven’t baked bread in so long! I worked at a small bakery for a few years back in high school, my first job besides babysitting actually. It could be pretty physically demanding and I often had to be up pretty early on Saturdays, but I mostly liked it. Kind of like a second home what with my mom working there too and all. Your bread looks so delicious, I hope I have time to bake some soon!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know what sourdough starter was for a while. I even wrote to companies making sure it was vegan when listed in their ingredients! This is intriguing, and your bread looks so perfect, I'm jealous! Cherie

Anonymous said...

Love this post -- love bread in any form. I could make a meal of it!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for all of your help. I actually bought some unglazed ceramic tiles for my oven but they didn't fit right so either hubby needs to cut them or I need to find some smaller tiles.

I also "steamed" the oven.

I'm guessing, based on what you and Bryanna said, that I let the dough over rise. I actually had to leave the house and it was pretty high but when I came back about an hour later it had fallen a bit. I didn't realize that it has a threshold. Every time is a learning experience, I suppose.

We just finished off one of the loafs and it was really pretty good - better than any of my other attempts at bread thus far. I made a delicious garlic bread out of it tonight which always helps mask any imperfections.

I'm going to keep at it, for sure. Your recipe sounds like a real winner and I can't wait to give it a try.

One last question was how do you keep your bread from spoiling or going stale? I know that it's not such a problem for you because your family can go through a loaf a day but since it's just hubby and I, two loaves is hard for us to get through in an entire week. Did you do anything special to your Bakehouse bread that you sold? How long does bread usually last for?

theONLYtania said...

Wow.. I don't know anything about breadmaking but I better learn soon. When I grow up (wow.. that sounds loser-ish of me to say) I plan to make my own bread always.

Urban Vegan said...

You are a domestic goddess. That looks incredible--nothing like homeade bread. Nice idea about the gift, too.

laura jesser said...

I just made a new loaf of bread tonight, but when it comes time for another I'm going to try this delicious-looking recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

Looks like your bread came out superb! I like using my kitchen aid mixer to knead the dough - it saves my wrists and I can multi task (well really I usually just stand there in awe and watch) hee hee.

Maryjamie said...

Hi Dori! Hope you are having a great week so far :-)

Ferocious Killer Kat said...

that loaf looks incredibly delicious.. yummmmm!! u rawk dori!! wow I'm visiting your blog after a long time.. so many many cool entries :-D

Bryanna said...

Vivacious Vegan-- my mother slices her bread (which my husband makes for her) and freezes it, and just takes out a slice or two as she needs it.

KleoPatra said...

Mmmmmmmmmmm... bread!


That's really inspiring. Bread, the staff of life, or as i like to say, the stuff of life!

laura jesser said...

Dori, I made your bread recipe last night and it it so good! Thanks for sharing your recipe! Later tonight I'm going to put it on my blog. :)