UPDATED 7/11/2020: I’ve updated this recipe to include some instructions (and better pictures) for stretching and folding the dough. I’ve found that I get a much better rise and bread shape when I add that step.
Ever since our state went on lock-down to slow the spread of COVID-19, I’ve been testing the waters of homemade bread. I’m not sure why… Stores still had plenty of bread, but ironically were out of flour and yeast…
I guess part of me wanted to do it to save a little money, and another part wanted to do it just because it felt good to learn that skill. It felt good to have one more thing to help me feel a little more self reliant. We now have wheat seeds and a wheat grinder, so we can grow our own crop and not have to rely on stores at all for bread! And that feels pretty good.
I started with plain white bread, but in my search for recipes and instructions, I came across countless articles about sourdough. Honestly, it seemed a little too complicated for my tastes, but the thought of capturing “wild yeast” intrigued me. I came across this video from the Prairie Homestead, and seeing how easy Jill makes it look made me want to give it a shot.
It took me a while to figure out the starter and find a cooking method I liked, but I’ve got it down now and we love our daily loaf of sourdough bread! The recipes I use for the starter and bread are adapted from Jill’s recipes. She is the Homestead Queen! To see her version (which is far more detailed than what I’ve typed up here), click the links below.
Keep in mind that this is my very simple, not artsy or fancy version of sourdough. For those beautiful loaves of dark round bread, you’ll have to look somewhere else!
- All-Purpose Flour
- Non-Chlorinated Water
- Mix ½ cup all-purpose flour with ¼ cup water. Stir vigorously, loosely cover, then let sit for 24 hours.
- Add ½ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup water to jar, and stir vigorously. Loosely cover, and let sit for another 24 hours.
- Discard half of the starter, then feed again with ½ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup water. Stir, loosely cover, and let sit 24 hours.
- Keep repeating Step 3 until the starter doubles within 4-6 hours of you feeding it.
- Starter should be bubbly. If it’s not bubbly after several feedings, throw it out and start over.
- It takes about two weeks for a sourdough starter to be mature enough to leaven (rise) a loaf of bread.
- Jill uses whole wheat flour for her first 1/2 cup, but mine did fine with all-purpose flour.
(Recipe adapted from The Prairie Homestead)
Simple Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 3-3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, salt, oil, and honey.
2. Stir in the flour.
3. Mix everything together until it forms a dough. Once it becomes too difficult to use a spoon, switch to your hands and work the dough into a ball. *Note: The dough may be sticky – that’s ok! The wetter the dough, the softer your bread will be. If you like a more firm loaf, add a little more flour. It’s ok if your dough is pretty lose. I like to oil my hands so the dough doesn’t stick to them too much while I’m working it.*
4. Cover dough with a cloth and allow to rise for 30 min. After this short rise time, work the dough with stretching and folding motions. I like to fold it over on itself until it forms a smooth ball.
5. Repeat step 4 two more times. You’ll notice that after each short rise time, the dough will become smoother and stretchier.
6. Place smooth dough ball into a greased loaf pan. Score the top with a knife.
7. Spray a little cooking oil on top of your dough, and place it in the oven (turned off) to rise for 6-8 hours. Temperature matters here! The ideal temperature for the dough to rise is between 70 and 80 degrees. The cooler it is, the slower the dough will rise. I’ve found that I can’t let my dough rise overnight in the summer because it always over-proofs.
Once the dough begins to peak over the edges of the pan, it’s ready to bake!
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Bread will be a light gold color.
Butter top of loaf to soften crust. The bread is much easier to cut when it’s cool, but it’s hard to resist warm sourdough bread!
In cooler months, I like to feed my starter around 3 pm. It’s doubled and ready to work with by around 8 or 9 pm, and I bake it whenever I get up in the morning. In the summer months, I feed the starter before I go to bed and start making the dough in the morning. My family likes a more mild sourdough flavor, which is why we add the honey.