There are so many reasons to love sourdough bread. It’s delicious, ranks in the same range as whole wheat bread on the Glycemic Index (for you white bread lovers this is great news), and it contains live probiotics to aid in digestion, weight maintenance, and overall health.
Through bread-making I get to live out what I call my “prairie wife fantasy”, but without the prairie and all the child-birth.
I can’t take credit for this loaf however, because it was made by my favorite person and partner in crime. He’s taking credit for this particular recipe as well as the inspiration behind this post. He also makes a great hand model for these photos 😉
There’s just something about a man who can make bread…
Fresh baked bread is in a league of its own. It’s worth the time and effort in pulling it off, not to mention it’s incredibly satisfying to know you’re capable of creating our most ancient food, without a bread machine!
My favorite way to eat it is toasted with mashed avocado and topped with fresh squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Om, nom nom.
Sourdough bread gets its ability to rise and its probiotics from the starter – a living blend of water, flour, and the yeast that feeds on it. When yeast in the air enters the starter, it feeds on the carbohydrates from the flour and releases carbon dioxide, a gas which makes the bread rise.
The addition of the starch water from the potatoes and the honey speeds up the process of creating a thriving starter by providing the yeast more food to eat. It also helps to cut the sour flavor of the bread. Don’t worry about any extra sugar in the final product. The amount of sugar per serving is very low.
Many make sourdough without any honey or sugar, so if you prefer a more sour flavor you can leave it out. Just be sure to allow a couple of extra days for the starter to come alive.
This process is time consuming, but with very little active time working on it. Plus, you only have to make the starter one time so that – with proper care – it can be used forever, which will save you time on the next occasion you decide to bake.
This recipe is broken up into three parts. The first part contains instructions for making your starter. Although simple to put together, it takes 2-3 days of fermentation before it can be used to make bread.
The second part is the recipe for the bread itself, which of course consists of the starter you made earlier. This process is broken up into two stages totaling about 12 hours time. Again, this is not active time in the kitchen, just the time it takes to rise before baking.
TO MAKE THE STARTER
- 4 cups water
- 3 medium size potatoes
- large saucepan
- large bowl (no metal or plastic)
- 4 cups unbleached white flour
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. salt
- Bring the water and potatoes to boil for 10 minutes. Drain starch water into bowl using colander.
- Allow the water to cool slightly, and stir in the honey and salt. Stir in the flour. You should have a pretty thick consistency.
3. Cover bowl loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to sit for 2-3 days in a warm spot in your kitchen where it will not be disturbed.
After a couple of days you should notice your starter begin to come alive, with bubbles breaking at the surface and a faint yeasty smell similar to beer. These bubbles are a sign that yeast from the air has landed in your starter and is feasting on the carbohydrates from the flour, honey, and potato water.
At this point, cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for another day or so before using.
Now you know you’re ready to form the dough for your bread!
TO MAKE THE BREAD
Before using your starter, re-activate the yeast by stirring in one cup of flour and a bit of water and allowing it to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
After your starter has warmed up a bit, it’s time to form your bread! You will need:
- 2 cups starter
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sugar (optional)
- 2-4 cups of flour
- vegetable or olive oil
- In large bowl, combine starter, 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar, and water. Keep adding flour as necessary until you can no longer stir with the spoon alone.
- Knead with hands until a solid dough ball is formed. Put into an oiled bowl and cover with a wet dishcloth. Place in warmest part of your kitchen 8-9 hours, until doubled in size.
After taking out what you need to make your bread, replenish your starter by stirring in 2 cups of fresh flour and a little bit of water. Store in refrigerator until the next time you need it.
- When the dough has doubled in size (8-9 hours later), push down on dough with your hand to release the built up carbon dioxide. Use hands to shape dough into a loaf and place in oiled bread pan. Cover with wet cloth and allow to rise for 3 more hours.
- After your loaf has risen again, preheat oven to 375F. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. You will know it is done when you tap on the loaf – it should sound hollow inside.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.
Ta da! You now have yourself some perfect sourdough bread. Keep your starter for as long as you want by remembering to “feed” it about once a week by stirring in 1 cup of fresh flour and a bit of water and keeping it in the fridge. Next time you decide to bake, you can have your bread after just one day.
If you purchase bread on a regular basis and are looking for ways to incorporate more probiotics into your diet, I encourage you to experiment with this recipe. You may surprise yourself at how simple (and inexpensive!) it really is.
We gave it a shot and now we are on our second loaf in less than a week. Our starter is becoming stronger over time, so our bread is only going to come out more flavorful and higher in beneficial bacteria as time goes on. This is definitely becoming a regular thing.
Remember to like, share, and comment below with your thoughts and questions!
Cheers to a healthy start of a beautiful week,