Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wheat Sourdough Bread

This half~eaten loaf of wheat sourdough bread might tell you just how good this recipe was. It's Suzanne McMinn's recipe for Grandmother Bread made with her sourdough starter. I blogged about her Chickens In the Road recently and was anxious to try out the family recipe that she shared for her Grandmother's Bread. I'm not an accomplished bread baker, but I do come from a long line of bread makers...Mom, Grandma and Aunts who baked their own bread weekly. It's not difficult to make, as long as you follow directions. Suzanne has a whole section at the blog with step by step directions and pointers how to make the sourdough starter, the bread recipes and variation of the recipe... Cinnamon Buns, Raisin Bread, pizza.

The sourdough starter has to be made and aged for 10 days. Now don't let this scare you off. It's nothing more than flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast. Set it on the counter to do it's bubbly goodness for 10 days.

It will get you in the mood for Halloween since it looks like a bubbling cauldron!

After 10 days you store it in the fridge to use as you need. You keep it "alive" by adding when you take out starter...or by adding a teaspoon of sugar to "feed" the monster every 10 days. See how much fun this is? When you get ready to make the bread you take out the starter and let it come to room temperature. This is important since you want the yeast to "marry" with the starter. Isn't that romantic?

The yeast needs to be added to warm water and and allowed to "Proof" for 5 minutes. That just means to look and see if you have some bubbles rise, that tells you the yeast is good. Also the package has a due date and I've never had a problem unless it's old yeast.

Wheat Germ is just something I add to recipes to make them more nutritious. I added 2 tablespoons to the recipe. It won't affect the rising, it just gives a nice boost to the health benefits. The Wheat Gluten is KEY to making your bread "poofy."

It's kind of like an Insurance Policy for bread. It's right next to yeast and flour at the grocery store and it's not expensive like most insurance!

The dry ingredients go in the bowl...

Add the wet ingredients and allow the dough hook to do the work. If you have a bread machine it can take over and you can go blog for awhile. If you don't have either of these, God gave you a mixer attachment called hands! Just stir with a big mixing spoon until thoroughly mixed.

Plop out on the counter and admire the yeasty glob that will soon become a work of art!

Here's where the fun begins. You get to punch and roll, fold and press and in general take out all your aggression on this little loaf of bread dough. About five minutes and you should have worked up a little sweat if you've done a good job. Now this doesn't mean to mistreat the dough. Don't think about ex-husbands or what your Mother-in-law said the other day, or the gallon of milk that the grocery clerk failed to put in your cart and you got all the way home before you realized it. That will make the dough tough. Just fold and knead in a lady like manner...

Then place the little baby bottom of dough gently in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

I like to cover up with a clean dish towel because Mom always did this.

I got distracted so I am missing pictures of the risen dough in the bowl, kneading and forming again and placing on a baking sheet. Sorry, not very good at the cooking posts. I made a few slits in the top and allowed to rise. This picture was after it had risen and I was ready to put into the oven.

I can't explain the smell when it's baking. Nothing short of Heaven on Earth, it makes the house feel like home. That's it in a nutshell, just Home Sweet Home. It's an offering for your family that tells them hey, I made this because I love you!

Chickens In The Road blog has all of the recipes for Grandmother Bread,
visit and tell Suzanne THANK YOU!

How to make Sourdough Starter:
1 tablespoon (1 packet) yeast (not rapid-rise)
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 more cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
In a large (non-metal) bowl, dissolve yeast in the 1/2 cup of water. Add flour, additional water, and the sugar or honey. Beat till blended. You can leave it in the bowl to ferment, or transfer it to a large jar.This is a 2-quart jar. You have to use a large bowl or a large jar because the starter needs room to bubble up and expand.
Cover the top with cheesecloth. (That cheesecloth keeps the cat hair out, whew.)I use a jar band to keep the cheesecloth on there good. Let stand at room temperature in a warm place while it ferments. I keep it on the kitchen counter as that’s the warmest room in the house most of the time. Depending on the temperature in your house, it will take 5-10 days to ferment. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times a day. It should be kinda like pancake batter in consistency (after stirring). It may separate some and look goopy as it sits. Just keep stirring it up a couple times a day.You see how much it expands. That’s why you need a large bowl or jar. I like to use this 2-quart jar because later it will transfer easily to the refrigerator. (A big bowl would take up too much of my fridge space.)
You’ll know it’s ready when you walk by it one day and think, Is there some beer in here? And you get all upset because you have teenage boys and they’d better not have any beer. Then you look around and realize it’s the starter.
Once the starter is ready, you can store it in the refrigerator. (Continue to cover with cheesecloth. You can use a rubberband, or a jar ring, etc, but do not seal it shut.) Stir it once a day.
After each use of the starter, replenish it by stirring in another 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 cup flour, and another teaspoon of sugar or honey. Allow starter to sit out for a day to ferment before putting back in the refrigerator. Wait at least a couple days before using the starter again. If you don’t use the starter for 10 days, stir in a teaspoon of sugar or honey to keep it active and stick it back in the fridge.
Never take more than two uses of the starter at a time. Each use is 2/3 cup starter per one loaf recipe. You can take out double that (1 1/3 cups) if making two loaves, and in that case replenish double, but no more than that or you’ll wear your starter down pretty quickly. (If you need to make more sourdough bread than that at a time, you might want to run two pots.)
You can keep your starter going for a long time if you take care of it. If you don’t and if you screw it up, just start over. It’s just yeast, water, sugar, and flour. It’s okay. If your house is very cold, it will not work. I tried to get some starter going one winter at the old farmhouse and it just sat there. Then I set it in front of the gas fireplace and it fried. There was no winning for losing there. I keep my new farmhouse at 67 degrees in the winter and it takes about a week to get starter going here, so unless you live in a freezing, drafty old farmhouse, you can probably ferment starter any time of the year. If you do live in a freezing, drafty old farmhouse, may I just say, I feel your pain and wait till spring to make starter. (I loved that old house anyway!)
Note: Always bring your starter to room temperature before using it in a recipe.
One-loaf sourdough Grandmother Bread
2/3 cup starter1 1/3 cups warm water1 teaspoon yeast1/2 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons sugar1/4 teaspoon baking soda3 cups flour
Two-loaf sourdough Grandmother Bread
1 1/3 cup starter2 2/3 cups warm water1 tablespoon (1 packet) yeast1 teaspoon salt1/4 cup sugar1/2 teaspoon baking soda6 cups flour
Follow general instructions for making standard Grandmother Bread. See full standard Grandmother Bread recipe and instructions here. The starter goes in with the water/yeast mixture in the first step, and the baking soda is added along with the flour.
You can also add up to three tablespoons of homemade dough enhancer per loaf (particularly recommended if using whole grains).
Printable Recipe


  1. know how I love homemade bread (see my post) mom always had a start of this, it makes wonderful pancakes too! Guess it's about time I do it too...thanks for sharing this..come say hi :D

  2. Yes, we have done this & it is wonderful. The aroma drifts one away ... TY for sharing.

    Have a lovely week. TTFN~Marydon

  3. Oh yum,I love homemade bread and especially sourdough bread. I think baking might be in my near future.

  4. I have a sourdough starter ~named Kudzu. It is about time to get it out of the very back of my fridge and use it.
    This looks like a great project for a rainy day.

  5. Thanks for this - it looks wonderful and I have never made sourdough before. YUM!

  6. Joycee, we must live in a parallel universe. I had Peavine the cocker spaniel, have a Parker, just made some bread and butter this weekend, and have been looking for a sourdough starter mix. So proud to meet you and can't wait to start following your blog too.


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