Thursday, February 18, 2010

My First Sourdough Success & Questions

I am so excited! This is my 1st sourdough success and second try at making it. I am very please with how it came out. I used a "no-knead"... well, more like "minimal-knead" sourdough recipe that I found through Wardeh's blog, which she found it on Millie's blog. THANKS GALS!!

My first time making sourdough... I used 100% rye flour and no wheat. DUH! I felt so stupid after I figured out that I needed the wheat for the gluten to help rise the bread. The dough was a hard brick ball that I ended up giving to my chickens to feast on. They loved it and it was gone by the end of the day  :o)

Now, my second try... I decided to go with Millie's minimal-knead recipe because it sounded like a good beginner's step towards perfecting the skill of sourdough making. Overall, everything went great and bread tastes wonderfully sour. It is a little dense because I used a little too much flour. The dough was so wet and I couldn't work with it a lot. I have questions about that below...

What starter did I use? I used a Swedish Rye sourdough starter that I purchased from Cultures for Health.

Why the Swedish Rye? Because I am part Swedish and thought it would be great to make & eat sourdough that I know my favorite Grammie Marillyn (yes, I have her name) made back in her young days.

So, I have a few questions for all those who are sourdough experts and those who are learning right along with me  :o)

With the "no-knead" is it normal for it to be very wet?

Which do you prefer... "no-knead" or "yes-knead"? Why?

How should I store my loaves?

Do you have a "favorite" sourdough recipe?

What are your favorite flours to work with?

Please share your tips, websites, advises and recipes! Because I want to try different styles of sourdough making till I find "the one" that would become my weekly sourdough bread. I also want to study more about sourdough and its benefits. A good friend once told me "Sourdough is the King!"... so true!

Looking forward to reading up what you all have to say! I hope others will learn along with me as I explore the world of sourdough making.

This is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet!


  1. Oh you are going to LOVE sourdough!

    Let me see if I can help answer your questions. First I haven't made sourdough with Millie's recipe, but I can tell you what I know about the kind I make. I have the starter and use the method from The DVD is awesome and has instructions as well as variations like tortillas, pitas, focaccia and cinnamon rolls. I can't speak highly enough of her method --if I can make it, anyone can! :)
    Anyway, my dough really is very wet, I'm not sure I could need it with my hands. Purebreadsourdough calls for stirring not kneading and it seems to work well. I haven't tried a kneading recipe. You only take it out to shape it after 7-9 hours to put in the oven. I like to mix it up before bed, and cook it first thing in the morning. I store my loaves in a plastic bag, and they last for about 5-6 days very well. The recipe calls for only wheat, salt and water, so I have never used any other grains, but I would like to try adding some rye at some point for fun! Oh we love our sourdough and I know only one other person face-to-face who makes it so it is fun to get to "chat" with someone about it! :)

    I usually do the freeform method that Gwen recommends in her DVD to make round loaves, but it raises and slices well and looks pretty. My favorite ways to eat sourdough...I always love it toasted with butter and parmesan, or jam, or honey. :) I LOVE it with a fried egg, crumbled bacon, and fresh tomato for an open faced sandwich. My husband loves using it for a peanut butter sandwich! Good old sourdough. You'll have to keep us posted on your experiences. It is such an art and fun to work with it! Good luck!

  2. Hi, Marillyn! How fun that you tried Millie's recipe. Your loaves look fabulous!!! I'm so excited for you to have this success.

    Right now, I like the kneaded version of sourdough better. Millie's minimal knead sourdough works better than the no-knead method - because her dough is more dry and therefore cooks fully. The other method, by the time cooked fully, yields a very hard crust (for me).

    My favorite recipe is here:

    And I much prefer using spelt to wheat because it is lighter. That is comparing spelt to hard red wheat - hard white wheat is light like spelt.

  3. Linsday - Thank you! The website and DVD sounds great and just what I might need. I am looking around right now... looks good! Thank you for all your pointers and suggestions. I look forward to trying them out!!

    Wardeh - Thanks! I have seen your recipe for the spelt sourdough and would love to try, but right now only have wheat. I love how your bread looks! We love spelt, but we have to go for the cheaper version... hard red wheat, but I am interested in trying the hard white if it will be like spelt! Thank you for stopping by :o)

  4. I make sourdough bread weekly and I knead mine. I just posted on it a few days ago -

    I've been making it for about 9 months, but I'm sure I have a lot to learn.

  5. I just made my sourdough starter two weeks ago. I haven't made a sourdough bread yet. But I made some pita bread out of it. My starter is really wet like a pancake batter. Then added the flour and let it rise again for a few hours. My dough wasn't wet but it was really sticky that I needed to add more flour. My starter is now in the fridge but I want to try the recipe soon. Hope you post more. :)

  6. Hi. I am in Zimbabwe. I learned about sourdough in 2008 when things were so bad here there was no bread in the shops and no yeast either. I made my starter with plain flour and water. It did not work out well at first but improved with time. The sourdough doughnuts were to die for! I have not made anything sourdough for quite some time now. Almost a whole year!! I am inspired to start making sourdough bread again, thanks.

  7. Hi Marilyn - I have made that recipe several times now. I love it! I have a starter that I converted from white flour to wheat. I cut the recipe in half and do the whole thing in my kitchen aid mixer. I also use half whole wheat and half spelt flour. After mixing everything together it sits and rises for almost 24 hours. Then I punch it down, split it in half and form it into loaves in the pans. Then it sits and rises for another 5 or 6 hours.

    Since I let it soak and rise for so long it is VERY sour, but my husband and I love that. My two youngest kids have a hard time with that so I altered the recipe this last time to try for a 'sweeter' bread. It came out sweeter, but not enough that they loved it, so I'm going back to the original since I'd rather not add extra sugars when I don't need to.

    The loaves are fairly dense. I just store mine in a ziplock on the counter, but almost feel like it doesn't even need the bag. I've also kept it in the fridge just fine. They seem to firm up and age well, making for nice slicing bread. Here's the recipe I used for the sweeter bread:

    2 cups of starter
    3/4 cup yogurt
    1 cup raw goat milk
    2 tsp sea salt
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
    1/2 cup unsulphered molassas
    3 cups whole wheat flour
    3 cups spelt flour

    Used all the same directions for the first recipe. I do like this bread and would probably make it again - just not all the time.

  8. I love sourdough bread too! Probably, you could check out the fresh loaf site. They've all the sourdough recipes and Q & A kind of stuffs going on there too.

  9. This post is great, as are the comments. Sourdough is on my list of things to tackle this year. Bread, I always make from scratch, but no sourdough - yet!

    I also wanted to let you know I've given you a Beautiful Blogger award at: (my green living blog)

  10. Margo - thanks for sharing your recipe! I will try it!

    Divina - Looking forward to seeing your sourdough bread! It takes time, but you will do great! Thank you for coming by.

    rosemary - Sourdough doughnuts?! Where's the recipe?! I've never really liked doughnuts, but sourdough donuts sound way good!!! Glad you are inspired to get back into making sourdough again.

    tara - Thank you thank you for your recipe! I will give it a try and see what I think. We like our bread sour too, but probably not like yours :o) Thanks so much for all your tips... REALLY appreciate you taking the time to share them with us!

    Kristy - Thanks! I will :o)

    Laurie - I am honored! Thank you for the award. Hope you make sourdough soon because I want to hear about it!

  11. I have been using my own starter I made for a year now! Always looking for ways to use starter. I use the no knead method often. How wet or dry it is makes for more holes in your bread. I personlly like the dough a little on the dry side. is where I learned about sourdough and the no knead method. If I want bread that day I use the bread machine or kitchenaid to knead for me. I have not been able to make a decent bread kneading by hand so I love the no knead method. I store my bread in a bread keeper I got as a gift. The fartherst I have ventured from white or wheat is adding some soy flour(supposed to help keep longer). Love making sourdough pancakes and biscuits. Have a donut recipe to try!

  12. Mare--------good for you for sticking with this.
    A suggestion if I may--------I make lotsof kinds of breads on a regular basis-------and you may want to think about using a sponge--also for a less dense bread try using a little bit of cake flour. The bread will still be chewy and have a good crust,
    It is the kneading that dwevelops the gluten (which are proteins that stretch as you knead.)
    Don't know if this helps but stick with it.
    Worldchef (on Food Buzz)

  13. Yarnwrangler - Thanks so much for sharing your experiences... so cool how everybody does it in different ways, yet have great results.

    Worldchef - Thank you the encouragement! I will for sure stick to it... love the taste too much :o) Thank you for the tip about the gluten... makes sense.

  14. Hi Mare,
    I have been baking sourdough bread for 13 years. A friend gave me a starter when I was first married. I use the knead method, although, I've tried the wet method (no-knead) before. It was not my favorite. Before I go any further, I have to give you some background on my baking. I have always loved doing things the "hard" from scratch way, but my bread was not healthy. The starter my friend gave me was one that you feed 3/4 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup of instant potato flakes and 1 cup of warm water. Then you make your dough with 6-7 cups of white flour, veg. oil, sugar, etc. IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! and so fluffy. But, not at all healthy like I thought. I did not know this until I decided to get some different starters going. In searching for starter recipes I discovered information about soaking grains and the harm of white flour. I had never heard of phytates before!!! Needless to say, we have made lots of changes since then. My kids are ok with the new bread as long as I try to make it fluffy, which means I do add a little white flour. I also experiment with my starters. Right now I have 3 going. One is a rye starter. I started it with equal parts rye flour and water and that's what I feel it now that it is ripe. I also revised the starter I used to make. It starts with equal parts flour (any kind) and water and I feel it1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 cup wheat flour (or whatever kind) and 1/4 cup instant potato flakes. The potato forms a kind of natural yeast. One thing I've wondered, if someone can answer my question, is, does my ripe, acid-y starter metabolize the sugar I feed it like the kombucha? Starters are really great as I don't yet have a grain mill. It is a really great way to get rid of those nasty phytates, now that I know they are there. We have made hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls and pancakes, also. I feel like I have taken up my fair share of comment space but if you want my recipes for dough, I'll let you know. They are "nourishing" now.:)
    One more thing, I LOVE your blog! I have never subscribed to a blog before but I'm so happy to know you are a sister in Christ. God bless you and your beautiful family.
    The Flour Girl

  15. If you google sourdough donuts, you will be amazed. So many recipes. I was looking for the recipe which I used but did not find it.I remember visiting this link and having fun there but I remember well that I did not use any store bought yeast or soda. I used this link for my starter recipe. I played around with the amounts of milk, eggs, sugar and salt to add to come up with delicious donuts but cannot remember much now. I think if I revisit my sourdough days I will remember, and this time I will document. I am not a donut person myself but sourdough donuts with that sourness have got their own thing happening. If you try them you will see.

  16. Hi, I just discovered your blog and have added it to my reader.

    I have been making the spelt sourdough recipe in Nourishing Traditions with my homemade rye starter for about 3 years now. I have not really experimented with any other recipes. Here's what I have learned:

    1 - Measure the flour by scooping and leveling the measuring cup (I use the back side of a knife for this) rather than shaking to settle the flour into cup (perhaps most bread makers already know this, but it took me a while to figure out!)

    2 - Feed the sourdough mother at as close to the same time each day, and then when ready, make your bread at that time as well prior to feeding it (you know, use part of the starter for the recipe, and then feed the leftover portion to keep it going for the next week)

    3 - The dough will seem too sticky to knead at first but by the end of kneading (15 minutes?), it will not be sticking all over your hands and you'll be able to shape nice loaves.

    4 - Let rise until doubled (or a little longer if you like it really sour). Depending on the weather this can happen in 4 hours or closer to 24.

    5 - I store mine, once cooled, in plastic bags, but dream of finding some sort of bread box.

    I am hoping to know if anyone makes sourdough from sprouted flours, and whether that effects rise time, crust, flavor, texture, etc.

  17. After having numerous failures with sourdough (more just not liking it rather than failed bread!), I came across this recipe online:
    It is a no-knead that sits for 18 hours. SO easy - all you do is mix it up and allow the fermentation to do all the work for you. And it turns out such a lovely artisan loaf with a moist crumb. The dough is fairly wet, but not too wet to handle at all. The recipe calls for just 1 cup of wheat flour but each time I make I've been adding more and more wheat so that the last time was 3 cups wheat and 1/2 white (plus my white starter) and it was still great. The one thing I do differently is add way more starter than the recipe calls for. I think it gives it better sourdough flavor. I am just so excited about it I had to share! Enjoy.

  18. Yes, it's completely normal for no-knead (or minimal knead) to be wet. I usually lightly oil my hands, or wet them with water, and handle the dough as little as possible because it's so sticky!

    I prefer kneaded sourdough because I find a little kneading to be very therapeutic, and I l.o.v.e. the feeling of smooth, freshly kneaded bread. On the other hand, if I'm in a big hurry (or if I accidentally ground too little flour), the no-knead wins. :P


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