Sourdough White Bread

A long, long time ago, when I got married the first time, one of our local newspapers participated in the Welcome Wagon for Newlyweds program. I signed up and, shortly after the wedding, received a big box of stuff every new bride needs. I have no idea what was all in that box apart from a bunch of gift certificates we never used. Well, not true… there’s one thing I still have from that box of stuff. A small cookbook from the Fleischmann Yeast company. In that small booklet was a recipe for Sourdough bread; I’ve made that recipe time after time and, apart from one small adjustment, it has never failed me.

bread book

The small adjustment? Well, it was a matter of taste, really. The recipe, as written, has a mistake; it calls for one tablespoon salt. One tablespoon salt in a recipe that makes two loaves makes for some very salty bread. I made it as written the first time, and have adjusted it down to one teaspoon of salt in subsequent makings. Once I have the starter ready to use (after letting it sit at room temperature for a few days), I store it in the fridge until baking day. I don’t know if that’s a no-no but I haven’t encountered any problems yet.

As I said, the recipe has never failed me yet and, right now, there are two loaves rising in my oven, almost ready for baking.

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Sourdough Bread

[printable version]

Makes 2 loaves

Starter:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package or 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup unsifted flour

Dough:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package or 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup starter
  • 5-6 cups flour

To make starter: 

Measure 1/2 cup warm water into a large bowl. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir well.

Meantime, combine 2 cups warm water, sugar, and salt. Add liquid to dissolved yeast. Add flour. Beat vigorously until smooth. Cover; let stand at room temperature (78-80°F) four days. Stir down daily.

To make dough:

Measure 1/2 cup warm water into a large bowl. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir well.

Meantime, combine milk and butter. Heat until liquid is warm and butter melts. Stir in sugar and salt. Add liquid to dissolved yeast. Add 1 1/2 cups starter and 1 1/2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in an additional 4 cups (approximately) flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn onto lightly floured board. Let rest 15 minutes. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in 2 greased 9x5x3″ loaf pans. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake in hot oven (400°F) about 30 minutes, or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

To re-use starter:

Add 1 1/2 cups warm water, 3/4 cup unsifted flour, and 1 1/2 tsp sugar to unused starter. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. Cover and let stand until ready to make bread again. Stir down daily.

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2 responses

  1. Our house is never that warm, even now. Would I still be able to make the starter, in that it might just take longer? Or forget the whole thing until warmer weather arrives?

    Maria

  2. Maria, my house isn’t all that warm right now either. When I first made the starter, I put it in the warmest place I could find, on top of my dryer. It lived there for a week or so before I used it; I did make sure I stirred it daily. I don’t think you have to wait until warmer weather arrives; if your house is warm enough to bake bread, it should be warm enough for sourdough starter. BTW, I’ve heard of people using starter they’ve kept going for 30 years and more! Amazing!

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