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Live Simply In the Kitchen: Sourdough Bread from Scratch

Have you wanted to start baking sourdough bread with sourdough starter but feel intimidated by the process? Does it seem complicated and hard to follow?


I was there. But when you finally take the plunge, I promise you – you’ll find it’s far easier and way fun than you imagined.

Live Simply in the Kitchen: Sourdough Bread from Scratch    l #sourdoughSourdough Starter is Easier than a Bread Machine

Sourdough starter requires about as little hands on time as a bread machine. No, really, it’s true! I make two loaves at a time about every week and a half – with the bread machine, I’d have to pull the machine out every few days!

Sourdough starter doesn’t require extra equipment. There’s no bread machine to break – or even buy!

Sourdough starter baking can double as a science lesson for your kiddos. There are bubbles to watch and dough-rising to see and explain…save time by baking and homeschooling! Win-win, right??

Sourdough Starter

Let’s get started. If you’ve got your ingredients and supplies together, I’m going to challenge you to do this today – right now – let’s go – no time like the present. I promise you’ll be glad you did. If you don’t have your supplies together, see this list.

Pour 2/3 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of filtered water in a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir and set aside in your kitchen, uncovered (remember, you’re catching microbes from the air!). Approximately 24 hours later, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water to the mixture. Stir and set aside again. Approximately 24 hours later, you should start to see some bubbles and you’ll add the same measurements of flour and water, stir and set aside. Repeat this process until you see lots of bubbles (I think mine took all of 3 feedings after the initial mix!). It may look like a fizzy soda or a dying-down bubble bath. Either way, if you see bubbles – you’ve got starter! (And trust me, you will. πŸ™‚ )

Now, at this point, you can start baking! So get to this point, come back and we’ll bake our first loaf:

Sourdough Bread

4 cups of organic whole wheat flour

2/3 cup of sourdough starter*

1 2/3 cup filtered water

1 T organic olive oil

1 T raw honey

1 t real salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large ceramic or glass bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes (the batter should be pretty hard Sourdough Bread from Scratch! #sourdough to mix with a fork, so letting it sit allows the moisture to be absorbed). After about 20 minutes (ish), wet your hands and the counter top and pull the dough out of the bowl. Give it a few rolls and kneads. Plop it back into the bowl, cover with cheesecloth and let it sit for 12 hours.

After it’s sat for 12 hours, poke it. The dough should retain the dent your finger made (if it doesn’t, let it rise a little longer). Pull it out with wet hands onto a wet counter. Knead a couple more times and place into a greased loaf pan. Cover and set aside to rise about 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, remove cheesecloth and bake for 8-10 minutes. Bump the heat down to 350 and bake for 45-50 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when you knock on it – does it? Ok, pull it out and let it cool down a bit before turning it out of the pan.

Congratulations – your first artisan loaf!

Notes on Baking with Sourdough

Now, what I want you to remember is that, while baking is a science, sourdough is pretty forgiving. If you forget to feed it for a few days, ehhh. It should be fine. I feed mine about once a week (on Sundays because that’s when I decided I would do it). But you can feed it as few as 1-2x a month, if stored in the refrigerator, and you should be fine!  They’re hard to kill, so don’t be afraid! πŸ™‚

*And, once you pull out the starter for your first loaf, you’ll find you have some leftover. Cover the remaining starter with cheesecloth and place in the fridge. Feed as many as 1x a week or as few as 1x a month: 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. When you’re ready to bake again, pull out 1/2 cup of the starter and mix with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Cover and leave on the counter. Add the flour and water measurements again, 12 hours later. Approximately 12 hours after this (or 24 hours after removing from the refrigerator), your starter should be ready to begin baking with! I typically make a note to pull my starter out of the fridge to wake it up with the flour and water mixture two days before I want bread: so if I want bread for Tuesday night’s dinner, I pull the starter out of the fridge on Sunday a.m. By Monday a.m. it’s ready to be added to the bread ingredients, and by Tuesday mid-morning I have bread going in the oven!

You’ll notice that the crust is very hard. This is evidence of a true artisan loaf. Basically it means you did a good job and made a really yummy loaf of sourdough bread. πŸ™‚

Of course, you can skip the sourdough starter from scratch (like these from Cultures for Health) and buy one here – the plus side is all the yummy different options they offer.

Finally, if you haven’t picked up this book, yet, I highly recommend it. I love the science, the celiac and gluten-free information, the recipes and the history.

How’s it going?? Got any sourdough starter questions?


  1. Thank you for this post, Jennifer! I do believe these are the simplest, most straight-forward directions I’ve seen yet on “catching” wild yeast and getting started making sourdough bread. I almost got so excited and jumped up to follow your directions when you put out that immediate challenge…and then I remembered that we’re all on GAPS here at our house! BUT, I just pinned this and when we’re done and we’re re-introducing grains, you can be sure I’ll pull up this post!

  2. We live in Colorado and it is very dry here. the “starter in process” uncovered on the counter will get a dry crusty surface if I leave it uncovered completely. Any suggestions?

    • Hey Patty! You can cover it with some thin cheesecloth. The goal is to allow the microbes in the air to be caught. You may end up having to do some trial and error with the thickness of the cloth and maybe location in (or outside of) your home. But a thin weave cloth should be good, I think.

      Now the question is if that will keep the dust off? πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to hear!

  3. What kind of flour do you use in the starter? Whole wheat?

  4. Okay, I am finally trying this! Thank you for the very easy and basic steps, let’s hope I don’t mess it up! Dustin’s been wanting homemade bread for a while and I just haven’t had it in me to figure it all out without using yeast, and didn’t want to pay for a starter. Thanks for writing this post! πŸ™‚

  5. Brook Vernon says

    Hi! I have made my starter and I am now waiting for the dough to rise in the pan- however, I wanted to have 2 loaves- so I split them up and then started worrying that they would not be able to rise as high as they need to in 12 hours.

    Does it matter how high they rise and if I only used one loaf pan rather than two- would the rise need to reach the top of the pan?

    I am 2 hours into the rise- which is another questions, does it have to sit for 12 hours, can you let it rise for less?

    I am praying the loaf turns out, I am so excited to have stumbled upon your blog and learned how to do this (as it is something I have wanted to do for ages now)! Thank you for the instructions!

    • Hi Brook! I’m so sorry I missed getting back to you during that window of time! How’d it go? They probably were smaller loaves. I usually let mine sit till they retain my finger poking the top. πŸ™‚

    • And I’m so glad you found Growing Up Triplets! πŸ™‚

      • Brook Vernon says

        It turned out, but was a bit spongy (as my husband called it)- I think mainly because it was too dense since I split them apart. I also used wheat flour- not for sure if that effected the taste. The overall taste to me was good though! Hopefully I can try another batch this week. I just made my own chicken stock this weekend from your recipe! Speaking of which, how much do use when you make soup?

        • My starter just grew mold! I left it out and forgot about it – ohhhhh the tragedy! πŸ™ Oh well, at least it’s easy to re-start. πŸ™‚ The dear thing gave me a good long round of baking. πŸ˜‰

          It is definitely more spongy! If you pour off some of the hooch before adding to the bread ingredients, you’ll have less sour, too. How’s it been going?

          When I make soup, I use as MUCH stock as I can. Whatever I don’t have enough of, I sub in other liquids (water, tomato juices, etc.). How’d the stock-making go?? πŸ™‚

  6. I’m excited to get going on this. I have the Vintage Remedies Book and love it but your post made it so easy. Thank you for the step by step process. I’m still working on my starter and am on the second feeding. Looking forward to getting to the baking process :). Thanks bunches Jennifer πŸ˜€


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