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Last August I started to work my way through Beth Hensperger's book "The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook".  I was managing a new type of bread daily.  I planned to bake my way right through the book, until I hit the Sourdough Section.  I got lost in Sourdough for going on 3 MONTHS.  Who knew there was so much to learn about one form of bread baking.  The Sourdough farm takes a week to get going, and then requires weekly maintenance.

Sourdough's have taught me a thing two about life too, and I recently wrote about that.  sourdoughs take patients, and a certain amount of skill, I.e. when baking in a bread machine, the art of Sourdoughs require management, even in a Bread Machine.  5 minutes into the cycle one needs to check that all the flour is incorporated.  More flour needs to be added if the dough is too sticky, a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough is too firm.

Truly the most important thing that one needs to learn while making sourdough is patients.  8 hours of proofing time is REALLY THE MINIMUM, a sponge likes to sit at least 12 hours, but 24 is better.

Over the last couple of months I have tried to make my self at home in Chico.  I have joined clubs, found a new group to hike with and have finally gotten into a "routine".  I am coming to terms with the nightmares, and am working with a group that teaches techniques to cope, and turn nightmares into dreams.  Who knew that in the good times, and this is a good time, our unconscious would find ways to "mess with us"!  

Moving has to be one of the most stressful events in one's life, and moving from a big city to a small town is quite a system shock. I still feel that the move was the best decision I have ever made, and spending a couple of months perfecting sourdough has been a great investment.  Who knew that bread could be a conversation starter.  Who knew just Sourdough starters could entertain for hours.  I bring a fresh warm loaf of bread to my groups, like the Writer's Circle I joined.  And it is a great opener, everyone enjoys it, and it seems everyone has a story about someone they knew that also enjoyed baking bread,a grandparent, a favorite aunt, it reminds people of a slower, easier time, and there is no way to describe the looks on people's face when they drop by and smell the fresh baked bread baking.  Well these are my slowier easier times.  Who knew 6 months ago I ould tackle bread recipes with over 3 hours just is  in RISING time.


Today I decided to put into use all I have learned about perfect sourdough, and put together my own CRUSTY loaf bread, and made use of the Custom setting, and the Modify button to truly perfect the loaf!


In Suzanne Rosenblum's writings, she recommends it is best to make a new starter for each batch of bread that one is to make.  She believes it is not possible ever to get that really sour flavor of a new starter.  Let's face it though a good starter takes 2 to 5 days to develop, and is just not a good invest in Time Management to make a new starter every time.  So that leaves us with refrigerated starter, which then requires "PROOFING" before us, which means you take a cup of Starter, add 1/3 a cup of Flour and a 1/3 cup of water, mix well and then cover with cheese cloth and let it sit for AT LEAST 8 hours.

Here's Suzanne Rosenblum's favorite starter, which she writes about often.  I have made this a dozen times now, and it does produce a very pleasing sourdough.  


One 8-once container sour cream, NOT imitation, low fat or non-fat!)
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar WITH mother
1/8 teaspoon SAF yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose or bread flour.

Whisk sour cream until smooth. Add water, vinegar and sprinkle with yeast. Add the flour. first add 3/4th a cup, and then add flour as needed to bring the starter to the consistency of pancake batter. Transfer to a plastic container or crock.  Cover with a few pieces of cheese cloth and secure with rubber band, then cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let it stand at room temp. for 24 hours.  It will start to bubble, which is  good.  The smell will start to sour after a couple of days.  The longer it sits the more sour it will become.  If you hae not used it within 5 days you will need to throw it into the Fridge, after feeding it with 2/3 cup flour, and 2/3 cups purified water.

This yields 2 cups starter, which you will use in the Bread Recipe.


I am going to call this a "HYbred" recipe, which combines ll the wonderful things I have learned in making sourdough to yield an extra sour loaf, with a crumb that my roommate LOVES.  This bread is a French Bread style loaf.  You will need to customize the cycle though.  Kneed one should be 20 minutes, kneed2 20 minutes, the first rise should be programmed for 40 minutes, the second rise should be 1 hour and 50 minutes.  The long second rise gives the loaf its volume.  The loaf will not "crown" but instead will have a flat top, which is normal for this loaf.  This bread also bakes for 60 minutes, not the usual 50.  After you have modified the settings.

For a 1.5 lb loaf. The Sponge:

2 cups Starter
1/2 teaspoon active dry or SAF yeast
1/2 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour.
1/2 cup lukewarm starter.

Run the bread machine on the Dough/Pasta, which should run for 10-14 minutes.  After the cycle runs, unplug the machine and let the sponge it and ferment for 8 to 24 hours.  The longer the sponge sits the more flavor will be developed. After 8 hours, add the following:

1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon SAF or Active yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 cups Unbleached All-purpose or Bread Machine yeast.

Program Modify the machine as stated above. Add the ingredients above right on top of the sponge.  Press the start, and set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes check the dough ball, if it is sticking to the sides of the bread machine add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time.  If it is too dry and just spinning, add more water 2 tablespoons at a time.

Remember the bread won't crown, but will be flat across the top.

Originally posted to l3m0n - A Veteran's Journey of Recovery on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 04:00 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Military Veterans and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Slower easy times (9+ / 0-)

    I stay at home to keep my house running and care for my family. I make as much as possible from scratch, and I am interested in making my kitchen garden large this year.

    I think that anthropologically, it is interesting how the USA has fewer people willing to accept a slower lifestyle. When I first left the work force, my children were young, and I was always so busy taking care of them and helping out at various school and community events, that I never felt like I had a peaceful moment alone.

    Then my children grew up, as they tend to do, and I had more and more time of my own. At first I tried to fill it up by working part time and in temporary jobs, just to try to stay busy and bring extra into our house. But now I feel that I want to make a garden, bake bread, and limit my committed time outside our home.

    I feel guilty sometimes, but I think we have lost something in the rush and busy of our lives. That is the abilities to have conversations, be alone with our thoughts, and spend meaningful time learning something that may not make money, but brings you joy.

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West

    by COwoman on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 04:57:46 AM PST

  •  Have you worked on starter only proofs yet? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill W, alisonk, JBL55

    use the same schedule for sourdough starter basically and make bread without adding yeast. I only use a french recipe to avoid spoilage issues with proteins like egg or dairy.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 05:31:04 AM PST

    •  That was my thought. (3+ / 0-)

      I began making sourdough using a starter which I kept going in the fridge, and livened up each time I needed to use some of it.  I would use some "insurance yeast" when I made the dough, which guarantees a predictable rise, but some flavor is sacrificed.  Eventually, I started working without a net and using only my starter to leaven the bread.  It takes longer, but I think it's worth it.
      I'm also questioning the logic behind making a new starter for every batch.  Considering that the best bakeries in the world are using starters that have been kept alive for upwards of a hundred years, I'm not inclined to believe that they're doing it wrong.  
      On the other hand, I don't know if it works differently when using a bread machine.  I've never tried one.

    •  Yeast does not like metal. You should avoid metal (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, BlackSheep1, radarlady, glorificus

      and go with glass or ceramic bowls.

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:08:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, l3m0n, I'm glad to hear things are going well (5+ / 0-)

    for you. I can understand your sourdough as recovery therapy as well. Some day I'll write about how vegetables kept me focused.

  •  what fun! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, glorificus

    i use a bread machine too, but i make a double batch of dough and take it out and bake it in two pans.

    did you ever read kitchen confidential? one of anthony bourdain's kitchen crew was a crazy guy who was kept on because of his marvelous bread and sourdough starter. i hope i'm remembering it right- i just remember him vanishing and phoning bourdain and drunkenly yelling at him over the phone to feed the bitch! the bitch being the starter.

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:10:34 AM PST

  •  I call sourdough "yeast beasties" (18+ / 0-)

    and treat them like special needs pets.

    They all have their own personalities.

    Here's a picture of three of mine that were recently active, from the left:

    Heike, acquired in Hoeckelheim Germany in 1946, she prefers ryes and whole wheats, has a mild flavor and a good rise, is easy to care for and eager to please.

    Tri-Pliny, acquired in Italy in 1985, he has water issues, is a bit particular, prefers finely milled wheats to whole grain, does excellent foccacia, ciabatta, pizza dough, and pocketless flatbreads like naan, with a complex but mild flavor.

    Unuri Ufa, acquired from a National Geographic Giza dig in Egypt in 1994, he's temperamental, lacks stability, and has water issues as well, but when he works, he makes the most amazing breads from ancient grains like barley, millet, and teff.

    Yeast Beasts

    I have several other yeast beasties, most of them are in storage as dehydrated flakes.  I usually only have one awake and active at a time, but in the winter I may have as many as six of them awake and active.

    I love sourdoughs and you meet some of the best people through them!

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:16:25 AM PST

    •  How? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noddy, JBL55, petesmom, glorificus

      How do you collect all of these? And do they really stay true to form? I thought I read somewhere that local yeasts would overwhelm any starter within a few weeks.  I've never thought of trying an imported starter since I live in the SF/Bay Area. I figured the natives would just take over. Love the idea of starters from different parts of the world.

      •  So far, mine have (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        heedolsi, JBL55, glorificus

        stayed true to form.  Unless you live in a very active yeast-producing area, or keep yeast producing foods (grapes, for instance) in close proximity to your Beastie, it generally won't get overwhelmed by local yeasts.

        I keep most of mine in dehydrated form unless I want to actively use it. I try not to have too many active at once and only use one at a time even when I do have more than one awake and active to avoid mixing the cultures.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:40:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh, interesting. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JBL55, Noddy, glorificus

          I wonder if that would work for me. You can't swing a dead cat around here (should you be inclined to do such a thing) without hitting a vineyard though. Sounds like an experiment is in order!

          Where did you get your starters? Do you collect them yourself or swap with people?

          •  I begged most of them off (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            heedolsi, glorificus

            of bakers in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Poland.  Two were trades. I do have one wild-caught Yeast Beastie from the vineyards in Arkansas.

            All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

            by Noddy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 06:00:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Noddy, how do you dehydrate your starters? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              glorificus, ladybug53

              This sounds like a really great idea.  I have had starters 'go away' on me (go to live on Grandpa's farm?) because I suddenly got busy/had to leave town/got sick and the starter got forgotten.  I would love to be able to dehydrate it to save for another time.

              The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

              by petesmom on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 06:37:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How to dehydrate a Yeast Beastie (4+ / 0-)

                1. Feed your starter and leave her at room temperature for 24 hours.
                2. Stir in the hooch that forms.
                3. Spread a paper thin layer of starter onto plastic wrap and let her dry completely (up to 2 days).
                4. Break her into flakes and store her in airtight containers (I vacuum seal mine in small bags).

                I recommend doing this just in case your starter is accidentally killed (she got too hot, or so badly contaminated you couldn’t cure her). Keep the dried starter in the refrigerator. She will keep for years in a cool dark dry place – millennia even, as Onuri-Ufa demonstrates - a culture recovered from an archaeological dig at the Giza pyramid.

                I wrote a diary of sourdough care with more information - practically everything I know about sourdough care.

                All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

                by Noddy on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:51:25 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks so much (0+ / 0-)

                  I've saved this and your previous diary to my recipe folder.

                  The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

                  by petesmom on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 05:41:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Sourdough Characteristics (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, heedolsi, glorificus

        While you can collect samples from all over the world if you wish, much of a starter's character comes from the flour or combination of flours used to feed the starter. There are a lot more yeast spores in the actual flour that feeds your starter than are "caught" or "captured". That's what makes stoneground whole wheat and whole rye flour so good for feeding your starter.

        As for that SF flavor so many people are jealous of, it comes from a bacteria strain that works in cooperation with the yeast spores. It can also be found in plaque scrapings from human teeth.

        For more information, and some fine recipes, visit The Fresh Loaf website and peruse their archives. There's so much information, your head will spin if you try to consume it all in a day.

    •  I have a question for you... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, glorificus

      this may sound silly, but over time,  because of the wild yeasts, wouldn't all of the starters take on the same flavor of the region. I mean you use a cup, and then feed, but wild yeast are always jumping on board, and over time, like 20 years wouldn't most of the Orginal beasties be replaced with regional ones?

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:05:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That may happen (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, BlackSheep1, glorificus

        in places with highly active local yeasts (vinyards for example), but with care, the original yeast will stay true to itself. Using it indoors under controlled conditions with no yeast producing foods nearby, using only one Beastie at a time even if you have more than one awake, keeping some dehydrated and set aside in a cool dark place in case your original gets sick and can't recover (or to share...) will keep the Yeast Beastie intact.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:46:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This has been such a cool... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DoggiesWatches, JBL55, glorificus

    ...set of diaries to read. Thanks for writing them. I've got the same book and reading your reviews has encouraged me to crawl out of the 3 recipe rut I was in. We've found some new favorites as a result.

    If you ever want to go hardcore on the sourdough thing, check out Nancy Silverton's Bread from La Brea book. It's fascinating. I grew my starter from her directions . Sometimes it's like having another kid to take care of, but it's worth the effort. (Although there's no way I'm feeding my starter as often as she suggests!)

  •  I just returned to sourdough baking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, glorificus

    And my starter is throwing up a top layer of pebbly stuff. I think it's got a bacterial infection.


    I think I may need to start over again.

    I am moving to more non-wheat breads:100% rye, kamut, spelt. I live near an Ethiopian bakery which makes teff injera, so I don't need to.

     But my sickly starter is not providing much rise.

    •  They are tricky things, I just started a new sta. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, glorificus

      My tried and true starter is from San Francisco and was made with a German Beer starter from the book. It is a happy little farm, and was over rising when I added yeasts.  I use a custom setting now and hae just double the rising times and don't add yeast. Works great and tastes wonderful.  Today I am doing a Sierra Nevada starter from a recipe I picked up at the  brewery.  I am going to go by and see if they sell their yeast, I would like to gettheyeast they use to make the Wheat Bee.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:12:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mine's done that before... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, alisonk, glorificus

      I've just scraped off the pebbly stuff and fed it twice a day for a couple days. That seemed to take care of it, and I haven't poisoned anyone yet, so I think it's okay.  :)

  •  I had a starter going once (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, glorificus

    Unfortunately I simply didn't, and don't, eat enough bread to keep it going. I was just feeding it to keep it alive and rarely using it.

    Your diary reminds me that I lack the time and personality to care for starter but I love the product of someone else's time and patience.

    Good luck to you in Chico. It's a nice town.

  •  Lessons from sourdough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, glorificus

    Thanks for these diaries - you're inspiring, in how you keep trying new recipes and techniques.  And I agree that the best part of making bread is sharing it - bringing pleasure to people with just flour and water and "yeast beasties" as Noddy calls them.  Nothing nicer than warm, real bread.  And the way sourdough makes you plan ahead and watch over the beasties as they grow is great too - it's like being on a team with them - couldn't do it without 'em, truly ;o)  And like me, their behavior changes a bit with the weather - so much to learn.  My grandpa baked bread every other week, and my Mom still does.  I'm a more recent student, grateful that I have a more flexible work schedule so I can experiment.

    I made a starter almost 2 years ago from the Cheeseboard Collective Works cookbook - from the Cheeseboard in Berkeley - just rye flour and patience, and it's still doing great, but has lost some sourness.  I just read of one you start with flour and grated potato - can't wait to trying it soon - but any advice anyone has re: souring-up a starter would be appreciated.  So - thank you again for sharing your experiences - and best wishes as you keep baking.

    Open the gate, and let the saints through. - Bob Marley

    by DoggiesWatches on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:47:23 AM PST

    •  I don't know about rye, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, DoggiesWatches, glorificus

      but mine gets more sour if I feed it less.

    •  Use more rye and feed twice a day (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DoggiesWatches, glorificus

      Whole rye is a great food for starters. Feeding twice a day, if possible, will also give your starter a swift boot in the yeast. That's how they do it at the King Arthur Flour bakery as well.

    •  In my many readings, here are two suggestions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, DoggiesWatches, ladybug53

      Try adding a CTablespoon of Apple Vinger with the Mother in it.  Beth suggestion is to stir in a table spoon of whole milk Greek Yogurt with living cultures, Suzanne would suggest stirring in a Tablespoon of Sour Cream.

      I am much less learned and a beginner, but I would suggest not doing any of this, but instead go OLD school. Did miners have anything cool like Apple Vinegar .  Nope, when I want to make EXTRA SOUR, I take it our of the fridge, feed it 2/3rd cup of WARM water, and 1 cup of flour.  THAT IS IT. Now cover with a couple of layers of cheese clover loosely and let it sit and ferment for 8 to 12 hours.  That will sour it up. NOW, grab a couple of cups, replace a cup of flour and water, and use 2 cups o make a sponge which you also let sit out for 8-12 hours.  Put your mother pot back in the fridge and smell you sponge after 8 hours.  I don't believe in putting sugar in the Mother either. AS I understand it the yeast and bacteria come to a balance.  I also stir the Houch back into th starter.  I have friends that pour it down the drain.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 08:10:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  " sourdoughs take patients," (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I really am unsure if that's intentional, ironic, literal, or a misspelling.

  •  Always a pleasure to read your stuff, Jeff. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maudlin, ladybug53

    I've enjoyed watching your progress over the months of your writing. I may try this bread-baking myself.

    *There are two sides to every horseshit.* Kos

    by glorificus on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:06:23 AM PST

  •  interesting. my only bread-making experience (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    broths, ladybug53, defluxion10

    comes from my backpacking days, when I would sometimes take along a baggie full of flour with a little baking powder and maybe some raisins, mix some water in, wrap the dough around a stick and bake it over a fire.

    I'm sure if I ate it at home it would taste like a blob of dried-up Elmers, but in the woods, EVERYTHING tastes great.  ;)

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