Simple sourdough bread!

Am I the only one who finds the time and energy that it takes to make good sourdough bread a bit daunting?

I am looking forward to starting to bake my own breads again in the next week or two, and I just stumbled upon this recipe and demonstration videos by Serene Allison (of Above Rubies). It sounds almost too simple to be true, but I am eager to try it!

If you don’t care to watch the videos yet, basically the recipe goes like this:

  • add sourdough starter and flour to a large bowl or pot
  • either stir it or stick your hands in and knead it for 5-10 minutes
  • use a bowl to scoop it out into bread pans
  • leave it on your counter a minimum of 7 hours to rise (enough time to neutralize the phytic acid in the grain)
  • bake it for 1 hour

That’s it!!!

Has anyone tried a similar method to this? It looks incredible to me! I was planning to try mixing it up in my new stand-up mixer, but I just heard Serene say “don’t use anything metallic because it kills the bacteria in the sourdough”. Hmmm…

Either way, I would half the recipe to make 3 loaves for every two weeks, but this recipe makes enough to bake 6 loaves at a time if you want, depending on the size of your family.

If you don’t currently have a sourdough starter like me (I let mine die earlier this winter- bad Stephanie!), follow this amazing tutorial (you have to scroll down- it is a multiple post tutorial) from Heavenly Homemakers to get one going.

Is anyone else as impressed as I am? Want to bake some sourdough bread with me? πŸ™‚

** My sourdough bread rising on the counter, nearly ready to be baked.

I just tried your sourdough bread that you posted a while back…I
looked over it and it seems I followed all the steps, I used whole
spelt flour (freshly milled). I am not sure what happened but it never
really appeared to “rise”, I kept following the directions hoping
for some change but at the time it should have gone into the oven it was
just two flat blobs on a cookie sheet, they smelled sourish but were
just all flat. Any idea what happened? I really want to make sourdough but
am leery of trying that recipe again. Let me know if you have any
thoughts if you get a chance.
Thanks, Nola

I always find it a bit sad and frustrating when I try recipes from others and they don’t work. Unfortunately, baking bread and specifically sourdough bread, is definitely both a bit of an art and a science, and recipes that work well for one person don’t always seem to work well for everyone.

That said, I tried to brainstorm a few things that might make a recipe like the one I use turn out as a dud, and some ideas to make it work better the second time around (should you be so brave!).

  • Was your starter very fresh/recently added to? I think that the
    process can go a lot slower or sort of flop if you haven’t recently topped
    up your starter so that it’s nice and bubbly and active. I’ve learned that it’s best to add to mine the night before I use it (leaving it out on the counter) and then I know it’s ready to go when I start the next morning.
  • Were you using a starter that you’ve previously had success with? Not every starter I’ve tried to make has turned out. A few of them just didn’t seem to pick up the wild yeast in the air very well, and thus weren’t very effective in my bread making. Here’s a great tutorial for making your own sourdough starter. Or purchase one, as I did not so long ago, from a company like Cultures for Health.
  • Could you have possibly under kneaded/mixed it? I think it’s
    possible to under mix sourdough and have the starter not
    spread really thoroughly through the batch. Also, being under-mixed
    could mean that the starter doesn’t get a chance to be further
    activated by
    the mixing and the air being added to the dough in the process. Of course, this requires some experimentation and keeping track of how long you knead for, but it’s worth paying attention to if you’re having problems.
  • It might just need a longer rising time. I had a similar thing happen once. After the usual rising time, my bread dough was
    totally not ready to bake. I have a feeling it was as I mentioned above, that my starter was only semi-active, and so I ended up leaving it
    overnight instead of baking it that evening. It had risen more by the
    next morning, still not quite as nicely as usual, but it did finally
    rise. I baked it anyways, and it worked, but it had a much more sour
    taste, of course. The starter obviously wasn’t able to work as effectively as usual, so it simply required a lot more time than it normally does.

For those wanting to try their hand at baking sourdough bread, here are my two current favorite recipes (I’m not including the recipe that the reader tried because I’m happier with the results using these two recipes instead):

Simple Sourdough Bread– my current standby recipe. It is so incredibly easy, and it has worked very consistently for me almost every time I try it!

Sourdough Bread (from Sue Gregg’s Whole Grain Baking book– this one takes more time and effort, but it does make a very nice bread)

Any other suggestions for troubleshooting with sourdough bread, ladies? What are your tips for turning out perfect loaves each time?

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  1. I just received my first starter in a long time from a friend, and we’ve been enjoying sourdough pancakes and waffles. I’d love to ‘bread along’ with you! I’ll watch the videos once the kids are in bed, and start feeding my blessed starter. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  2. Rebekah, I assume you mean her children! πŸ™‚ Yes, both her and her sisters have all named their children very creatively! I confess, though, I love the names Arden and Cherish (nope, that’s not a hint as to upcoming baby names!)

    And yes, I’ll let you all know when I try this and how it goes!

  3. This is awesome! I once attempted to make bread and failed miserably! I was just thinking a few days ago that I want to try it again!

  4. HI Stephanie, this looks good, almost too good to be true.

    I make our bread the non-soaked way still. I make 100% whole wheat, fresh ground and it is so beautiful. I have for about 9 years. It is so hard to transfer over to even the soaked method from Sue Gregg or Marilyn Moll, because my results haven’t been as consistent and pretty. My family assures me the taste is what counts, but when you have big, fluffy, beautiful loaves the old way it’s hard to change. I know the nutrition is a little better. Though it still uses yeast, and I guess I don’t know what is really wrong with this, I have read Nourishing Traditions, I guess the info didn’t stick. πŸ˜‰

    Have you tried that ‘5-minute’ bread? I have tried that with fairly good results, it has got to be better because it basically ‘soaks’ for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Though it starts with some yeast.


    I have their book and it is really easy! It is not quite sandwich bread, but the kids love it. What do you think of this? Wouldn’t this still be better for you than regular whole wheat bread with yeast?

    I posted about my bread here


  5. It’s been a while (maybe two years) since my failed attempt at sourdough bread. I’ve stuck with regular whole-wheat since. No, come to think of it, I recently tried sprouted grain and plan to do it again. I’ll have to give sourdough another try. Thanks for the tip! (I didn’t know one could find Serene on youtube. Good for you!)

  6. I didn’t watch the video, but the recipe I found a month or so ago is similar, starter, salt, water, flour till the consistency is right, knead, let raise in pans till double in size, bake 1 hr. I made it a couple weeks ago & it worked great, made it again today, the loaves are cooling on my counter right now.

  7. i made the sourdough starter a few weeks ago when heavenly homemaker posted about it, but this is also so helpful!!! this makes the last steps so much easier!
    it was also great to see that video as i recently started receiving above rubies magazine…it’s always nice to put a face and voice to the names!
    have fun baking!

  8. Hello all…new here. I really love all of the great nutrition information as well as living healthy overall. Very timely for my family right now. But I’m really having a hard time with the whole soaking thing. I grew up on mostly whole foods and 100% whole wheat was a staple in our house. But I’ve never noticed any ill effects on a non-soaking whole grain diet. I’ve read nearly every article at WAPF.org and I’ve searched the internet for additional resources on soaking. All the quotes are a bit circular, but it all points back to Weston A. Price Foundation. Right after I started reading about soaking I tried to start my own sourdough starter. Hehehe…yeah, two seriously failed attempts that never really went much past “active” before they went moldy on me overnight. And I live in the high desert! I never did get to make anything close to sourdough bread. So, I backed it up and now I’m just trying to get down the basics of making bread…without the complications of soaking. Too bad our ubuntu linux isn’t cooperating with any video players right now…would love to see the “demo”.

  9. I love above rubies!!! πŸ˜€ So thankful for them! And YOU! πŸ˜€
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  10. I love baking and have been dying to try sourdough bread. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you. Maybe I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

  11. This might be a dumb question, but was the pot she was stirring it in considered metallic? I ask b/c I think the only thing that I have big enough to stir it up in is my big stock pot and just wanted to make sure that would be ok?

  12. In my experience with various sourdoughs, you don’t want to store your starter in a metallic bowl, but I’ve never had a problem with mixing up the bread dough in a metal bowl.

  13. Neat! I just keep bookmarking neat things on your blog I want to try later LOL typing is fairly easy with a baby attached but baking sourdough might not.

  14. Michelle, I hadn’t heard of that 5 minute bread. My thoughts are (that is, without reading the book or knowing too much about it) that I wouldn’t want to make bread with the dough on the first day, but after that I think that it would be sufficiently soaked. Only thing is, it doesn’t include any acidic medium (ie. buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, etc.) so I would want to try adding some of that in. It’s a really neat idea, though!

    Stacey, I also thought the pot she was using would be metallic, so I am wondering if she was referring to what you use to store your starter in (I was a bit distracted when I heard her say that, so I might have missed the context). Other seem to agree with that though, so I will probably go with that.

    Megan, I think making your own bread is totally the first step anyways, soaked or not! It’s too bad you’ve had a hard time getting a sourdough starter to work. Have you considered purchasing one online? I am most likely going to try that myself, although I have made successful starters before.

  15. This is fabulous! You totally read my mind! I phoned my Mom just yesterday asking if she could tell me how to make sourdough bread (she couldn’t)! Thank yoU!!

  16. I am soooo grateful for my sourdough starter and recipe. I had wanted to start making yeast bread but was intimidated by the thought of it. A friend said I should try her sourdough recipe. This is what I do.

    I feed the starter with water, flour and honey in the morning and set the jar out on the counter. Then at night I put some more water, flour, sugar, salt and oil and a cup of starter with 6 cups flour (4 white and 2 wheat). I stir it in the bowl with a wooden spoon, then leave it over night. In the morning I separate it into two loaves and bake for 30 minutes!!! It is soooo easy!!! So much easier than Seren’s method. Check out my blog for pictures.

    1. No offense but I don’t see how this is easier than Serene’s method. Plus you’re adding oil and sugar and honey, making it more expensive and more complicated. Not to mention all the white flour you’re using. I love the fact that Serene’s method can use whole grain rye, spelt, and or wheat. It’s easy and it actually works! I’ve been fighting with sourdough recipes for a few months, I baked with a friend that bakes sourdough for the farmers market. Now I’ve finally found a simple recipe that works for me. Susan I’m glad you found a recipe that works for you, but I don’t see why you need to say it’s more simple than Serenes.

  17. Hi there! I’ve been lurking around for a few months. Love all your tips! I decided to try out Serene’s sourdough recipe this past weekend. I actually cut down the recipe 1/6, because there’s just the two of us (plus I really didn’t want to be stuck with a huge sticky glob of dough if it didn’t work out!) I mixed the starter, whole wheat flour, water, and salt, then used my Kitchen Aid mixer to knead with the dough hook. I was going to use my hands, but I guess I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to messes πŸ™‚ Once the dough was really stretchy, I poured it all into a greased pan and left it out overnight. The next morning, it had raised beautifully, I stuck it in the oven for an hour, and ended up with FLUFFY whole wheat sourdough bread! No white flour, dough enhancers, or sweetener! My husband was so excited that I had finally found the “perfect recipe.” Thanks so much!

  18. I just started making Serene’s bread. The first time I added extra water and it came out aweful.

    The second time I followed the recipe and it was OK, but wet-ish.

    The third time (for a half recipe) I used 2 1/4 c. water instead of 3 c. and I think it came out perfect. πŸ™‚

  19. Hi there! I’m hoping to try this recipe this week. Finding rye was a challenge for me as I wanted to get the whole berries to grind. I have what I need except the starter so hopefully I can get that going today. How is it going for you? I know two people who have made this and have tried both of theirs. The dough was definitely sour, but it was good.

    I noticed that Serene mixes in a large metal bowl which contradicts what she said about mixing in metal. I’m not sure that it would make too much of a difference due to the amount of time the batch would actually be touching metal. I plant to try the Bosch plastic mixing bowl though.

    Take care,

  20. Gotta love the simplicity of this bread! I’m definitely going to try it, since my first attempt at sourdough created bricks πŸ™ So thanks so much for posting this!

    Blessings to you and your lovely family,

  21. I am pretty disappointed. For the past 7 days I have been attempting to make my starter. Today was the 7th day and I fed my starter this morning and then this afternoon mixed up a half batch according to the directions except I added 1 cup of wheat along with the spelt flour. I put in the buttered pans and it did not rise. I’m thinking I either did one of two things wrong. I either did not knead it enough or somehow did not catch any wild yeast. I am attempting to try the starter again in another bowl and add what is left of the first starter by cupful. Do you think that will work?

  22. thank you so much for your videos. What a blessing you are to others. Would you be so kind to send me your mothers recipe? I’ve had so many unsuccessful attempts at making Sourdough that I’d like more specific instructions (so I can better troubleshoot things).

    I am a single parent with only one child so I need to figure out how to cut down your recipe to first just make 2 loaves. Is it as easy as just cutting all ingredients down to 1/3? Hope so. πŸ™‚

    I feed the homeless at my local Interfaith so once I am confide t with the 2 loaves I will then try the larger recipe for many. Thanks again and God bless!

    1. @Lori, These aren’t actually my videos, but the videos of the woman’s recipe that I like to use. And I certainly think that you could cut this recipe down by 1/3 to make it work for your family! I think it’s only this large for families that go through a lot and want to make it all at once. I actually cut it down by half, because 3 loaves works well for our current family size, and I’ve never had a problem with it.

  23. For a free (and very good, I’ve tried it) sourdough starter, go to http://carlsfriends.net/ and follow the directions. This is a dried starter with instructions how to revive and use it. Great stuff! I’ve also gotten a starter from King Arthur Flour, which works well too. I’ve been baking bread for years, and basically all you need for yeasted bread is 3 cups flour, 2 1/4 tsp instant dried yeast, 1 – 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water. This makes French bread; if you want regular bread just add 2 tbsp butter or olive oil. I use my food processor (Cuisinart): add dry ingredients to bowl of processor, pulse to distribute evenly. Add butter if used (if oil, add with water) and pulse a few times. With processor running, slowly add water until a soft dough forms. Take out & place in oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap or a dampened towel & let rise until doubled. Punch down, place in oiled bread pan, cover & let rise until double again. Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes, until browned on top. You may need to use a “tent” of aluminum foil over top of bread if it browns too fast. Take out of oven, turn out onto baking rack & spread butter over the top crust. Let cool, slice & enjoy! (If you want to add more nourishment, add 1/3 cup dried milk to dry ingredients; for a finer crumb, add 1/4 cup potato flakes or use water in which you have boiled potatoes for the liquid.)

  24. For anyone curious about the amounts for one loaf, I tried this recipe last night and these worked great:
    2 cups starter (not 2 quarts!)
    3 1/4 cup flour
    1/2 TB salt
    And I kept needing to drizzle in more water, but it was around 2 cups. I got it wet like hers.

    I’ve tried several recipes for sourdough bread since making my starter 2 months ago. This was by far the tastiest, softest bread and SO much easier than others!!! My kids have been asking all day if I can make it all the time. I want to switch to sourdough since it’s healthy, but until this recipe I didn’t think we could do it.

    As far as metal, I had heard that stainless steel is fine. I rose it in my stainless steel bread pan (the only kind I have), and it worked. In old times metal was tin or silver, and those aren’t good.

    1. Yes I’m about to make my first sourdough loaf and have my starter ready. Is this the best (easiest?) recipe? Certainly useful to have Charlotte’s one loaf version though I’ll have to convert to metric.
      Does it matter what sort of flour to use? I was planning something like 50% strong wholemeal, 25% rye and 25% strong white.
      Will report back!

  25. I just wanted to comment on the metal bowl…I believe Serene was talking about not keeping your STARTER in a metal bowl. When she made the comment she has just mentioned how you should feed your starter with 1 C. rye/1 C. water. I don’t think she was commenting on mixing the bread dough in a metal bowl. She herself used a SS pot to mix her dough. Hope that helps. My mixer has only a SS bowl and I use it for all my sourdough mixing.

  26. I made my first sourdough loaf tonight and it is pale and tough got the recipe from Steve the bread guy. This looks too easy to be true the dough being liquidy seems odd to me. The starter that I have is made with AP flour would this starter give a different result? I am not pleased with the loaf that I made.

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