Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread

by Allison @ Alli 'n Son on May 22, 2011

Making sourdough bread from scratch is kind of a labor of love. It requires patience. It requires a few extra steps. It requires days of work.

Well, kind of. It at least requires preparation a few days in advance.

Actually, it isn’t that difficult to do. I was always intimidated by making sourdough bread from scratch. I mean, you have to make {or buy} a sourdough starter. Talk about intimidating.

Only it’s not. Mix a few ingredients together. Let it sit on the counter for a few days {or longer, if you happen to forget about it}. Store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Simple, enough, right? Nothing to be intimidated by.

Plus, baking bread is kind of therapeutic. You get to knead it. Punch it. Roll it around. Slice it. And finally, set it on fire. Or bake it, whatever.

Sourdough Bread Dough

And then, your house smells amazing all day long.

It’s delicious on a BLT. To die for with pesto and grilled cheese. Perfect paired with a creamy tomato soup. Or just slice it, toast it, and cover it in salted butter. Mmmmmm, the taste of warm, homemade bread. There’s really nothing better.

Unless, of course, we’re talking chocolate.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread


    Sourdough Starter
  • 3-1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 2 cups warm water {105º to 115º degrees}
  • Sourdough Bread
  • 1-1/2 cups cold Sourdough starter
  • 4-1/4 to 5-1/4 cups bread flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup very warm water {120º to 130º}
  • Cornmeal


    Sourdough Starter
  1. In a 4-quart or larger container, stir together the flour and yeast.
  2. With a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the water until smooth.
  3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place, like next to the oven, for 2 to 4 days or until bubbly and sour smelling. {I actually let mine sit on the counter for 6 says once and loved the taste.}
  4. Transfer to a 2-quart or larger contain with a tight-fitting lid.
  5. Store in the fridge, covered, until ready to use.
  6. Sourdough Bread
  7. Make the Sourdough starter at least 2 to 4 days before making the bread. Stir the starter before measuring {separation is normal}. Measure out 1-1/2 cups cold starter. Bring it to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter for a couple of hours before using. The starter will expand as it warms up.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine 2 cups of the bread flour, the yeast and salt.
  9. Using the dough hook on low speed very slowly stir in the starter and warm water. Go very slow, or the water and starter will splash out of the sides of the bowl.
  10. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  11. Mix on high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  12. Stir in enough of the remaining bread flour to make a soft dough {I added about 2-1/4 more cups, so 4-1/4 cups total}.
  13. On low speed continue mixing with the dough hook for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth. You can also knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 minutes, until smooth.
  14. Place the dough in a large bowl sprayed with non-stick spray, turning once to coat all sides.
  15. Cover the bowl loosely with pastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 60 minutes, or until doubled. {Hint: to help the dough rise, heat the oven to 200 degrees for 2 minutes, turn off, then place the bowl in the oven.}
  16. The dough is ready if an indentation remains when it is touched.
  17. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray; sprinkle with cornmeal.
  18. Gently punch down the dough to deflate.
  19. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 5-inch ball.
  20. Gently, with a sharp knife, cut 4 slashes into the dough, about 1/4 inch deep, in a crisscross pattern.
  21. Place the dough on the prepared cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray.
  22. Let rise in a warm place 30 to 45 minutes, or until doubled.
  23. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. {Remember to remove the dough from the oven first, if you are letting it rise in there.}
  24. Spray the dough lightly with water just before baking, using a spray bottle.
  25. Bake for 35-40 minutes, spraying with water every 5 minutes for the first 10 minutes. If the crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil.
  26. The bread is done when it sounds hollow if you tap on it with your fingers.
  27. Move the bread to a wire rack to cool completely.


To keep the starter active: once a week beat in 1 tablespoon bread flour or all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon warm water until smooth. Cover loosely and let stand in a warm pace 12 to 14 hours or until bubbly. Cover tightly and refrigerate until read to use.

To replenish starter: for each 1-1/2 cups of starter used, beat in 1-1/3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour and 1-1/3 cups warm water until smooth. Cover loosely and let stand in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours or until bubbly. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

Leftover sourdough starter: use it to make English muffins, sourdough pizza dough or more sourdough bread.

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook: Bridal Edition

Meal Plan


Monday: Baked French toast on homemade French bread
Tuesday: Grilled chicken sausages
Wednesday: Homemade hot pockets
Thursday: Turkey meatballs with sweet peanut sauce {Everyday with Rachel Ray}
Friday: Homemade pizza on beer battered crust and homemade sauce {}
Saturday: Date night, no cooking for me
Sunday: leftover pizza

Last week’s Sweet Tooth Friday linky is still active. Pop over and check out the amazing recipes linked up and add your own.

This post is proudly linked up to Sundays: Nifty Thrifty Sunday Mondays: Mouthwatering MondaysMade By You MondayMingle Monday Tuesdays: Tuesdays and the Table, Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTasty TuesdayIt’s a Blog Party, Tip Junkie Wednesdays: Show and TellWorks for Me Wednesday, Thursdays: Ultimate Recipe Swap, It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Strut Your StuffFull Plate Thursday,Thrilling Thursday Fridays: I’m Loving It, Foodie FridayGrocery Cart ChallengeFood on FridaysFriday Pot Luck, Walnut Avenue: Foodie Friday.


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1 TheKitchenWitch May 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

I will spare you the horror story of the exploding sourdough starter of 1993, but I assure you, that was one ugly refrigerator. Glad yours turned out successfully!

2 Allison May 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

OK, you can NOT tease me with this. I need to know the full story.

3 Jessica May 23, 2011 at 6:51 am

Oh my sour dough bread- how i love thee. I need you in this house awful bad. Can you get your friend Ali to make some more for me? PLEASE?

4 Allison May 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

If only we lived closer! I’d make weekly deliveries of bread and other yummy baked goods. Seriously, I don’t know what to do with all of this stuff I make, our freezer is overflowing.

5 Meg Luby May 23, 2011 at 9:51 am

i have been avoiding trying to make sourdough bread because i am a total coward of the starters/yeast/bready qualities it possesses but, this makes me want to try!!! you appear to have done a bang up job! loves it, thanks for the post!

6 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Thanks Meg! It really isn’t as scary as it sounds. It just takes a few days to get the finished product. I hope you give it a try.

7 Aimee May 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

Yum. That looks great. Perfect to dip in some hearty soup, or a large slab of butter :)
Thanks for sharing.

8 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Exactly! Now I’m craving it again.

9 Chels R. May 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

This is amazing!! Thank you so much for posting all of these steps! This is something I’ve really wanted to do!

10 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm

You are so welcome! Stop by again and let me know how it turns out.

11 carolinaheartstrings May 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Wow. Great pictures. I can smell that bread fresh from the oven. This is my daughter’s absolute fav!

12 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Thanks! It does smell delicious.

13 Laura May 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Ughh, I am so weak for bread! Especially warm sour dough bread. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Please stop by and link up to my Share the Wealth Wednesday Link Party! I’m your newest follower!

14 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for the invite. I’ll stop over tomorrow to link up.

15 Nikol Gianopoulos May 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I have been wanting to make sour dough bread! I’m so glad I found this and found you on Tip Me Tuesday! You are definitely being added to the blog reader.

16 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Welcome Nikol! I’m so glad you stopped by. Let me know how the bread goes if you get a chance to make it.

17 Beverly May 25, 2011 at 5:44 am

I really love sour dough bread and have wanted to make some myself. I am definitely going to give it a try!

18 Amanda May 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Okay, I’m actually tempted to try my own now! We LOVE sourdough bread and homemade IS the best! Thanks for detailed instructions in “real people” terms:)

19 KB and Whitesnake May 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

My man made bread for the first time last week and it was delish. Thanks for sharing your recipe and have a great weekend.


20 Ann Kroeker May 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

So maybe perfection is chocolate on a slice sourdough bread? How about a swipe of Nutella on a soft slice of that good stuff?

A friend of mine is having trouble perfecting his sourdough bread. Not sure if it’s a starter problem or something else. He’s a scientist, so he takes this process very seriously. I’m going to send him this link. Perhaps it will encourage him!

21 Miz Helen May 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

There is nothing like a great Sour Dough Bread and your recipe looks delicious. Sometimes in the winter months I keep the starter going all the time, because I am baking every week. The smell of that bread baking can’t be replaced. Thanks for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon!

22 Vanessa May 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

So many wonderful recipes.. Looks so yummy!!
Thank you so much for linking this up to {nifty thrifty sunday} as well!

23 Joy B June 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hey Alli!
I made some of your wonderful sourdough bread and posted about it on my blog. I’ve linked your post here:
Thanks so much for the recipe! You might want to try my Spinach/Pecan Pesto, recipe posted here, too.

24 Allison June 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Thank you so much for letting me know about your post! Your pesto sounds amazing.

25 Joy B June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

You’re so welcome Alli! Hope you try the pesto and like it! It’s a little bit addictive, tho’!

26 Melissa June 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

Hi Alli! I just made my starter, and it’s really thick like dough. I followed your directions and measurements exactly but I wasn’t sure if the starter was supposed to be real thin or like a dough. How should it look? Thanks!

27 Allison June 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Hi Melissa, yes the starter is really thick like dough at first. After it sits and sours for a few days it will puff up and once stirred will be more watery. I hope that helps. Good luck!

28 Shelly June 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi Allison, I just found your Blog through Pinterest. Thank you so much for Posting this Sourdough recipe. Sourdough is my Favorite. I live in Texas and can’t find good Sourdough Like you can in CA, I miss it. When family goes to CA they always bring me a stock for my freezer. So this will help out Greatly. :) I have been looking for a good one for a long time. I have never made Sourdough this was except with a box mix for the Bread machine . I am trying Grow and to make my own foods so this is very Helpful and I will know what is in my Bread. I wanted to know can you use regular yeast instead of the bread machine yeast? Are you actually mixing in a stand mixer or using a Bread machine. From what I read it sounded like a stand mixer. I have both, but don’t like the bread machine, doesn’t make bread as good as I’d like. I’m just confused on why Bread machine yeast if not actually using a Bread machine. Also, is the bread flour a special brand/kind you use? Again thank you for Posting and you have a New Follower. Hope to hear from ya soon. :)

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