Basic Sourdough Bread
This is a good, basic recipe for white sourdough bread. It has the distinctive tangy taste of sourdough, with milk and butter providing a moist crumb and tender crust. It rises well, and while it is denser than commercial bread, it is still light enough to use for sandwiches if you like. Another plus is that it uses up 2 cups of starter, which is perfect if you haven’t baked for a while and don’t want to throw any starter away. If this is the first time you have made sourdough, this is the perfect starter recipe for you. In fact, it has become my favorite go-to recipe, just because it tastes so good, and always has good results. Plus, it is ready in the same day, which is a plus if you are like me, and not a great planner. When I feel like making something, I want it now, not in three days from now.
Sourdough bread baking has become a whole culture (pun intended), with online and facebook groups providing support and recipes, and even a source for sourdough starter if you don’t want to make your own. This recipe assumes that you already have sourdough starter ready to go. If not, you will either have to purchase some (Amazon is one source), or make your own. That is another whole post, so please refer to either my post on Sourdough Starter, or my post on Quick Sourdough Starter if you don’t already have a starter ready to go.
Make sure your sourdough starter is active before starting the bread. For me, this means that I take it out of the fridge the night before, and feed it with 1/2 cup each flour and water, and then I leave it out on the kitchen counter overnight. It will be nice and active by the next morning.
Measure out 2 cups of sourdough starter, and put it in the mixer bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, except for 1 cup of flour. Rather than using milk, I use either whey left from making yogurt or water, and enough milk powder for 1/2 cup milk. If you don’t make your own yogurt, just use water and milk powder, or straight milk.
You will turn the mixer on medium speed and let it mix for 5 minutes. This helps to develop the gluten in the flour. You can see how the batter is stringy in the left picture above. Then switch to the dough hook, and gradually add in the remaining 1 cup of the flour. You may need a little more or less than the 1 cup, depending on how liquid your starter is. Keep adding flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl as in the right picture above. Let the dough hook knead it for another 5 minutes. You may also stir in the last of the flour by hand if you don’t have a dough hook.
Take the dough out of the mixer and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface until it holds together and springs back when lightly touched. Divide dough into two even pieces and pat into a rectangle. Fold up like an envelope and pinch bottom to shape into loaves.
Grease tops of loaves and cover loosely with wax paper. Set in warm place to rise 1 1/2 to 3 hours, or until doubled (oven with the light on works).
When doubled in bulk, gently remove the wax paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 30 minutes. Loaf should be nicely browned on top, and sound hollow when tapped with a finger tip. Remove to cooling rack. I like to brush melted butter over the tops to make the crust soft and shiny and tasty. Remove from pans to cool completely before slicing.
This is a plain white, simple sourdough bread. It’s a great starter recipe to use if you are new to sourdough baking. Makes 2 standard size loaves.
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups white bread flour
- Pour starter into mixing bowl.
- Warm milk slightly in microwave, and add butter, salt and sugar. Stir until dissolved.
- Add this mixture to the starter and mix well.
- Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, beat in the first 2 cups of flour with the batter attachment, and let it beat on medium speed for at least 5 minutes to develop the gluten. Then change to the dough hook to beat in the last cup of flour.
- Turn onto floured board and knead in any remaining flour for 10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed if the dough is sticky, until the dough is smooth and satiny. Divide into two equal portions.
- Pat dough into a 1-inch thick oval and form loaf by rolling oval up from the long side, pinching the seam together as you roll the dough, tucking ends to form the loaf.
- Place in lightly greased loaf pan (I spray with cooking spray), and let rise, covered, in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 3 hours. When the dough rises 1 to 2 inches above the edges of pan, it is ready to bake.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes (baking time varies according to your oven and your personal taste--some like a darker crustier bread than others).
- Remove loaf from oven and brush the top lightly with melted butter; turn loaf out of the pan and cool on wire rack.
- If you prefer, you can shape this into a round or oval loaf and bake on a baking sheet.
Depending on the consistency of your sourdough starter, a little more or less flour may be needed to achieve the smooth elastic consistency of bread dough.