Back to Sourdough

It seems like I’ve been doing more baking than cooking lately so rather than post a recipe this time, I’d like to show off one of my latest baking successes.


I purchased a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour quite a while ago and I’ve been maintaining it despite the fact that I took quite a long a break from baking with it. Sourdough is finicky sometimes (especially when you’re new to baking with it) and I became a little disheartened after my last attempt. Everything had been going well and I had turned out quite a few great loaves of sourdough so it was frustrating when I saw two days of work collapse into an unmanageable pile of goo after I accidentally let it proof too long after shaping. That was actually my second sourdough disaster. So, I decided I needed a little break from it. Fortunately, the break didn’t last too long because I started craving the stuff!

I brought my little sourdough starter crock out from the fridge, fed it a few times over the course of a couple days to make sure it was nice and happy, then made my dough. Usually I start by making a sponge, which increases the flavor of the bread and makes it “extra-sour” the way I like it. But this time, I followed a new recipe that uses twice as much starter and no sponge. I thought I’d try it and see how I liked a lighter-tasting bread.

Another change I made this time around was letting the bread rise in proofing baskets (ok, so I really used colanders…I don’t own any real proofing baskets) that I lined with floured kitchen towels. It worked pretty well except the towels stuck to the bread a little more than I would have liked. Next time, I’ll use more flour! But it was nice to let the basket shape the bread instead of dealing with trying to shape the super-soft, sticky dough into nice looking loaves myself. All I had to do was turn the proofed loaves out onto a piece of parchment paper on top of my peel and slide them right onto my baking stone.


The only real problem I had this time around was I let the oven get too hot and one of the loaves burned a little. They tasted great even though they weren’t quite as sour as normal. The crust was good and the crumb was nice and open…perfect for soaking up lots of butter!


Now that I’m feeling confident again, I’ll probably try to get in the habit of baking it once a week. I might not be able to eat it all myself but I can really use the practice and it’s not hard to find someone willing to take some fresh-baked bread off my hands!

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  1. Connie

    oh don’t tempt me with just beautiful breads! my oven is a little broken [or rather, unreliable] and with this cooler weather all i want to do is curl up with tea and bread-smells coming from the kitchen. but i never made sourdough before, so even though i can’t do any baking at the moment, your post was an interesting read.

    10:07 pm  Aug 28th, 2006
  2. Sandy

    That looks so good! How long did you keep the starter? That is where my original starter came from. I think I could eat a whole loaf!!

    11:16 pm  Aug 28th, 2006
  3. julia

    o wow, sourdough! nice to hear that the break from it is over and you’ve written this lovely post! Iโ€™ve never worked with sourdough, but it looks so great; I believe its really time for me to start (!) yum, yum! =)

    10:34 am  Aug 30th, 2006
  4. Lisa

    What a beautiful loaf! Your post gives me confidence. I bake a lot so I thought I had enough yeast in the air to create my own starter but after a couple of duds and a complete mess in my oven (I thought I would try to grow it in there because it’s warm, but it frothed up too much and exploded everywhere) I gave up on the process. Perhaps I’ll give King Arthur’s a try. Nothing tastes as good as sourdough bread and sourdough biscuits.

    I’m fascinated by the whole sourdough culture (no pun intended). It’s amazing people use starters that date back hundreds of years.

    12:32 pm  Aug 30th, 2006
  5. Nicole

    Lisa, I’m going to try to create a new starter soon but I’m really happy with the one from King Arthur. Part of what made me buy it was that it has all kinds of history attached to it. It supposedly dates back to pioneer days and I think it’s so interesting to be baking bread with strains of yeast that have come from different places and different times. And now it has wild yeast from Sicily in it too! I’m hoping I can successfully dry some of it and take it with whenever we end up moving next.

    3:24 pm  Aug 30th, 2006
  6. Fernanda

    you’re so sweet, nicole. thanks for passing by and leaving a comment on my blog. i really recomend the lettuce soup. mine I made with butter, potatoes, homemade vegetable stock and lettuce (i took of the hard parts). iยดm looking forward to seeing how yours will look like ๐Ÿ™‚

    4:25 pm  Aug 30th, 2006
  7. mac

    Awesome pictures! I love sourdough, so if you really can’t eat it all, ship it stateside (I’ll give you my address). ๐Ÿ˜†

    10:40 pm  Aug 30th, 2006
  8. Curt

    Nicole, I’m getting ready to start making bread, now that I Have my Kitchenaid!

    What would you recommend a first loaf to be? I’m thinking of sourdough, but I like country style breads a lot.

    Eventually, I want to make rolls for barbecue that include a touch of the rub I use on the meats!

    8:32 pm  Sep 6th, 2006
  9. Steve

    Wonderful pictures! You can taste them!
    I have recently started making sourdough bread after many years of making other breads. It is definately a different process and especially baking on a stone. I really like the results I get from the stone and parchment paper.
    In order to get a good sourdough taste, it seems like you need to make the sponge and let it work for about 8 – 12 hours. I mix up my sponge the night before and let it work all night. I like to add the rest of the flour with the salt in the morning and form it into loaves right away. In my opinion, if you let it rise twice it gets too sour. But as everybody knows, the longer you let it work, the sourer it gets.
    No one has posted here in over a year? What a shame!

    7:57 pm  Dec 10th, 2007
  10. Nicole

    Hi Steve! Yes, I usually let my sponge work for about the same amount of time. I do let it rise twice, though. I like extra-sour sourdough! Thanks for your comment! I hope to start writing more about sourdough soon ๐Ÿ™‚

    8:24 pm  Dec 10th, 2007
  11. Steve

    Hello Nicole,
    I also have had a disaster or two with sourdough bread and have shyed away from it for almost a year now. I am getting the bug again after looking at your pics and some of my pictures.
    It would be nice if someone would post a VERY DETAILED recipe on here for sourdough bread. I can’t find one.


    8:55 am  Jan 12th, 2009
  12. Nicole

    Steve:My goal for the new year is to finally write a detailed account of how to create a sourdough starter and then how to create the bread. In the meantime, e-mail me and I can give you some links to some good blogs that have written about sourdough!

    9:39 am  Jan 12th, 2009
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