Adventures in sourdough


One of the perks of working at home is getting to do creative, fun projects. My latest project is bread baking. Years ago, before I had a daughter, I used to bake fresh loaves of bread at home. After a while, I decided to try to make my own sourdough. I followed some directions I found in a bread-baking book, and it turned out pretty bad.

The other day I realized that my daughter was old enough to start helping me in the kitchen. I don’t really care for cooking, but I’ve always loved baking. My daughter actually loves both, and she’ll sit still for long periods of time watching cooking shows. So we started baking white bread.

But the sourdough bug hit me again. If you’ve never heard of the process for making sourdough bread, you may think it’s very hard. I wanted to do it authentically, and correctly, this time. No using packaged yeast to get it going. I wanted to grow my own yeast.

Want to know my sourdough starter process? On September 13, I mixed 1 cup of water and 1 cup of bread flour in a bowl (of course I let my daughter help). The consistency was a little like mud or thick pancake batter. I covered the bowl with paper towel (held on by a rubber band), and let it sit on the counter. 24 hours later I scooped out half of the mixture and “fed” the starter with half a cup of water and half a cup of flour. I did this every day for several days.

Now, in the beginning, like 2 days into it, I started getting lots of bubbles and the consistency changed to more goopy, and it started smelling wonderfully yeasty. I thought to myself, “I’ve done it! I’ve grown yeast!” That’s what the websites I’d been reading told me to look for. But then everything went flat, and the smell changed to more musty.

I scoured the internet for information. I seriously think I’ve now read everything about sourdough that there is online (well, not really…maybe just the page 1 results on Google). Thank goodness I didn’t throw it out and give up. It turns out that what I thought was yeast in the beginning was actually a bacteria that causes gas bubbles and such. All I had to do, according to the new research, was continue to “feed” my mixture every day (preferably two times a day, just like any other pet).

About 8 days into it, maybe 9 or 10, I finally got the real desired result. My starter smells like beer, it’s sour, and it doubles itself after feedings. I’m so excited! I even named it Penelope!

My next step is to finally attempt to make a batch of sourdough bread. I’ve been experimenting with regular white bread to get the consistency and softness that I want, so hopefully my practicing will result in a nice loaf of sourdough. And the research I’ve done should help me get a nice sour taste as well. I’ll keep you posted!

Do you bake bread from scratch? Have you tried sourdough? Did you make your own sourdough starter or buy it from a company?

21 Responses to “Adventures in sourdough”

  1. Mia says:

    You are brave! until now I’ve only tried baking cookies,(and I wasn’t successful all the time. This year I want to try baking a plump cake for Christmas. Have you tired it?

  2. Wow, that is dedication for you. 8,9,10 days waiting…
    I’d love to try it but know I couldn’t wait. How did it turn out in the end?

    • Theda K. says:

      It’s great! I made the first loaf of San Franscisco sourdough bread after maybe 20 days of starting the starter.

      My parents said it was better than store-bought. My friend’s husband had no idea it was made from scratch or had come from me at all, and he raved about it to her.

      I’ll do a new post with the recipe I followed.

  3. Ofa says:

    Making sourdough sounds pretty fun! I’d never really thought about trying to make my own as from the little I’d heard about it, the process seemed pretty hard. I started making bread a couple of years ago after a long time of thinking it would be really difficult then finding it’s quite straight forward so perhaps I should give sourdough a try… I enjoy bread making apart from having to knead it for 10 minutes or so. So far, I’ve only done it using fast action, one step yeast.

    • Theda K. says:

      Try making a two-rise, regular yeast bread a few times, and then you should definitely go on to the sourdough. It really isn’t that hard. It just takes longer for the risings. And you have to take a few weeks to grow the starter, but once it’s ready, it’s ready. You never have to buy yeast again, then!

      • Ofa says:

        I’ve got a couple more packets of fast action yeast to get through but once I’ve used them, I’ll try the two rise method before trying to make sourdough. I’m looking forward to not being able to bake bread because I forgot to buy yeast. That’s happened to me more than a few times. I made this page one of my favourites on Stumble! 🙂

  4. Kevin says:

    OK, apparently I didn’t do enough research because I was trying to do the exact same thing, had the exact same result after a couple of days, and then gave up after about 5 days. Maybe my wife gave up first, but since it didn’t seem to be working, I just threw it out. So I appreciate your post because I now think I will try it again.
    Kevin´s last blog post ..Tinnitus Remedies

    • Theda K. says:

      Definitely try it again. It just takes a while for the pH to lower enough so the yeast and lactobacillus can take over.

      Give it at least 10 days, and make sure to take out half and “feed” it, preferably every 12 hours.

      It should work, no problem! Let me know how it goes. If I had it to do over again, I’d have only used half a cup of water and half a cup of flour to start, and then maybe a quarter cup each for feedings.

      Also, I read that thicker is better and sturdier. I make mine just thin enough to stir. Like caulk. And I don’t worry about the lumps since the yeast will break them down.

      Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

    • Lauren J says:

      It took me about 10 goes before I was happy. The first 3 or 4 times I think we didn’t add the yeast at the right time. After that we learned about using a starter and things were much easier.

  5. eye pillows says:

    I love sourdough but am too impatient. It sounds like an art form to make it.

  6. With all these tips and pieces of advice, you will surely make fantastic bread that you will be able to share with your relatives and friends. Live the experience of making bread at home. It will provide you with a happier and healthier life. Bread may be the most important article of food in your diet because it is a source of nutrients.

  7. Shepdaddy says:

    I buy all of my bread from ShaSha Bread in Toronto. I know the owner and his sourdoughs are amazing.
    Shepdaddy´s last blog post ..When the escarpment no longer does it for you

  8. Jasmine says:

    Wow, I love sourdough bread! And baking it fresh, aren’t you a brave one! My Granny always bakes different types of fresh breads around the holidays. Naming a few Amish Freindship Bread, sour cream bread, stawberry bread and of course banana walnut! How did your Penelope do in developing your very own sourdough? I’d love to hear the results!

  9. Wow you and your daughter baking some bread, that sounds sweet :). That picture made me hungry by the way 😀

  10. The idea of making sourdough bread is very appealing, but the process for making the starter reminds me of my college chemistry labs (which usually ended very badly!)
    Annette Berlin´s last blog post ..Free Cross-Stitch Alphabet- A-F

  11. It really is quite difficult to get the perfect loaf of bread. Deceivingly so. I eventually gave up on making good bread from scratch, and bought a bread maker, expecting that it would be my salvation. However, I have now found that even making bread in the bread maker can be challenging! I think I just need to find a really good bakery…

  12. I just love making homemade bread. It makes the house smell wonderful. However, it is a bit time consuming, if you do it right. Well worth the wait, though!

  13. Wow! That’s rally interesting! But i can not make the sourdough very well. Each time I make a mistake and end up being dissapointed. But I really love the breads made by sourdough.

  14. Creative says:

    I may give this sourdough thing a try, in a few days. My next cooking project that involves dough, is going to be trying to make Beer Bread! I heard it was fairly simple, but I’ve never tried it. Have you ever made that particular type of bread?

  15. Lauren J says:

    I can identify with you about scouring the internet for sour dough information. I now have approximately 30 different word documents with recipes and tips.
    Lauren J´s last blog post ..Worth the Price Tag Panasonic SD-YD250 Review

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