an ancient culture – sourdough bread made easy

December 12, 2012

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A couple of months ago, I was entrusted with some sourdough starter that had been grown on grape must in LaBrea, California, over twenty years ago. The friend, who gave me the rare gift, in a glass jam jar along with some cursory instructions for its care, reminded me that the starter is a living thing.

I actually feel a sense of responsibility towards it – I don’t want to be cause of the starter’s demise after its twenty year plus lifespan and it’s long trip across the continent and north of the border to Eastern Ontario.

Every other week or so, I feed it as per the instructions – equal parts of flour and water – give it a good stir and place it back at the front of the top shelf in the fridge where I see it on a daily basis.sourdough starter

I had looked previously, several times, at various recipes for creating a sourdough starter but they’re surprisingly complicated and needy. If you Google creating a sourdough starter – you’ll come up with websites that offer you pages of description about the multi-step creation process.

It’s so much easier to get some from a friend! If you live in the Kingston area and want some starter – I’d be happy to get you going with your own jam jar of starter. If you don’t live in Eastern Ontario – you might want to have a look at the friends of Carl Griffith’s website- they offer a free dried starter sample for Carl Griffith’s Oregon Trail Sour Dough Starter to anyone who sends a self-addressed stamped envelope. This sour dough starter originated in 1847. While you are on the website – take a moment to look at the beautiful, touching story of Carl’s life.

I am just starting to investigate sourdough bread recipes and will get more ambitious as I go on. For the first couple of loaves, I used the bread machine and experimented until I came up with a straightforward recipe that works. Because we make almost all our own bread – our bread machine is in near constant use. It’s easy, efficient, and economical. Plus we know exactly what we are eating. And, we wake up to the irresistible smell of fresh bread a couple of times a week.

In order to maximize the many health benefits of sourdough bread, the bread should have a longer rise period than the bread machine allows for. Some sourdough recipes do not require any yeast at all – but if you make yours in the bread machine you will need to use some yeast though it is a fraction of the normal amount used for a regular bread machine loaf.

There are huge benefits to eating sourdough bread. A study by Professor Terry Graham at the University of Guelph concluded that “sourdough bread has more health benefits than any other type of bread.” Period. Even some people on gluten restricted diets can manage sourdough bread thanks to the fermented starter which breaks gluten down differently.

The first few loaves made in my bread machine have produced spectacular dense, slightly chewy loaves with the distinctive sourdough tang. I’m eating a slice right now, toasted and buttered, along with a cup of strong black coffee and I have to say – this bread is as good as or better than sourdough bread from high-end bakeries. It’s perfect and could not be easier.

Thank you Jennie – for the jam jar of starter! You really started something….

Straightforward Sourdough for the Bread Machine

¾ cup warm water

1 cup sourdough starter

2 ⅔ cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ¼  tsp salt (I tried using less but less is not more in this case)

1 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

Add the ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed above. Select the normal white loaf setting (if you have an option for a darker crust – you may want to choose this but it is not necessary). Hit your start button and away you go!

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16 Comments

  • Reply Tonette Joyce December 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Sourdough i the bread machine? Who’d have thought? I may get the courage to try this.

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

      Tonette – I hope you do – it’s a lot easier than I thought and the bread is superb. Also – take a look at the link to Carl Griffith’s website and please read the short but incredibly well written summary of his life – I think you’ll be touched – and especially by the owl at the end. xo

      • Reply Tonette Joyce December 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

        OMG! You made me cry! Thanks for sending me there.

        • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

          I know – isn’t it beautiful? He must have been some special person to have friends that loved him so much to carry on his legacy – and to have an owl flyover at his funeral. I can’t stop thinking about him -and i’m sending off for his sourdough culture.
          Oh Tonette – the joys of blogging…..

  • Reply Jessica December 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had sourdough bread. It looks great though!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Jess – haven’t you ever had Pan Chancho olive and rosemary bread? That’s sourdough. Anyway – if you haven’t had it before – it’s time you tried it – here – over Christmas…. xox

      • Reply Jessica December 15, 2012 at 12:40 am

        Ahh, yes I have had the pan chanco olive bread. I don’t like it though, but that’s probably because I hate olives 🙂 Home the 20th!! I’m so excited! And I’ll probably see you because Elly is coming to my place for NYE. xoxo

        • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2012 at 6:07 am

          “Hates olives” *shakes head sadly* – That’s okay Jess – come over and have some plain sourdough when you get home. xox

  • Reply Food and Forage Hebrides December 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Although I am trying to wean myself off my bread maker, this a a great idea, Time to move onto sourdough over the festive break. Thanks for the idea. Tracey

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Oh but there is the joy of waking up to a house which smells like fresh bread – and I could not do that without the bread machine! And now there is waking up to a house which smells like fresh sourdough bread – HEAVEN!!

  • Reply Elly December 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    SO DELISH! This bread was super yummy. Crazy that you can make it in the bread machine!

    Love you mum! xox

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Oh Elly – so sweet to find you here. I love and adore you to the moon and back and around the planets a few times too.

  • Reply Marisa - PictureRealFood January 11, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    I have been toying with the idea of starting my own sourdough starter for quite a while, and now my sign to do so has been sent to me by the blogosphere: yours was started only an hours’ drive from where I live! I’ve been eating only sourdough and sprouted grain bread for a while, so I think it’s time I made my own! 🙂

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen January 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

      I’m still learning about sourdough Marisa – it’s pretty fantastic to be able to make it at home. it’s not as hard as I thought although my culture seems to getting less sour so I’ve taken to letting it sit on the counter a day or two a week to spend up the fermentation process. I hope you send off for some of the starter from the friends of Carl Griffith’s – I did and keep checking my mailbox! We’ll swap sourdough notes once you get going.
      All the best, Lindy.

  • Reply gotasté April 11, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Hi Lindy, thank you so much for giving me this precious information. This is such a great post and I am so tempted. Your sourdough bread looks fantastic! …danny

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