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Sourdough Starter and Bread Recipes

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Sourdough starter is easy to make, and you can make new starter anytime you want to. Acquiring some "famous" starter that has been in the family or among friends for generations or that came out of San Francisco isn't a necessity.

I have found that sour dough is really quite forgiving, and although recipes give basic guidelines for using sour dough starter, you can be quite flexible, and still have great results. Use your starter in any favorite bread recipe, but be patient, it takes longer to rise.

I have particularly enjoyed using my sourdough starter for pancakes, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and occasionally sandwich breads.

I even took my starter with me when we went camping last summer and had delicious bread baked in the dutch oven using my basic Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread Recipe using the hand method. I made the bread in the morning and baked it at dinner time. I used about 1 tsp. of yeast instead of 2 TB.


Blend in a quart-size non-metal bowl or crock (sourdough reacts with metal) and let stand 5-10 minutes till bubbly:

1. 1/2 cup lukewarm water or potato water (95 -105F)
1 TB SAF dry yeast
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached white flour

2. Blend in additional:
1/2 cup lukewarm water or potato water (95-105)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached white flour

3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth; let stand in a corner 2-6 days. Stir down with non-metal spoon as it bubbles up. A day or two longer may be needed if the weather is cool. Top of the refrigerator is usually a warm place.

4. Store the starter in a glass or crock container in the refrigerator, at least 12 hours before using.

5. To use Refrigerated starter: Remove starter from refrigerator, stir down any dark liquid, bring portion to be used to room temperature (always reserve an unused portion for step #6).

6. Replenish the unused starter with equal parts of warm water and flour about 1/2-1 cup of each. Cover loosely and refrigerate. After you have replenished the starter give it at least 24 hours before using it again.

Dark liquid rises to the top can be stirred back in, it is not a sign of failed or spoiled starter. If mold appears, remove it. Discard starter only if any pink color is present.

For Best Results:
Use your starter twice weekly, or at minimum every 2 weeks to prevent its becoming too sour. If no used freuently one of the following options can be followed:
1. Freeze it in 1 cup portions.
2. Throw half away and replenish the remainder (see step #6) . Repeat with unsued starter periodically.
3. Discard it and make new starter, if needed.
4. I have found the more often I use the starter the better, but I have not used the starter for months at a time, and it always comes back to life, as long as refrigerated.

To Use Sourdough Starter in Recipes:

Sourdough starter can be used in English muffins, yeast breads, and rolls using these general guidelines.

1. Use 1/2-1 cup starter. Reduce liquid and flour in the recipe by same amount that is in the starter.

2. Replenish leftover sourdough starter and return to refrigerator (step #6, p.36).

3. Several hours or the night before make a sponge by blending the starter with the main liquid used in the recipe (lukewarm water, not hot), and part, or all of the flour to keep the sponge at a batter caonsistency. Let stand several hours or overnight,

4. In the morning blend in remaining ingredients. Active dry yeast can be omitted for a natural leaven bread, or reduce the amount of yeast used in the recipe by 1/3. For example, if the recipe calls for 3 TB yeast, I use 1 TB.

Sourdough starter may be used in any pancake, waffle, biscuit, or muffin recipe.

The above information is adapted from Sue Gregg's Yeast Breads Book.

If you have any additional questions about baking with sourdough, just contact me at or call us at 1-800-552-7323. Free 64 page catalogs of all of our products and much more are available at

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