Sunday, 13 July 2008

Sourdough Bread Machine Bread

This post focuses on making sourdough bread in a bread machine. 

I used the starter I created from a recipe from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco. It took me awhile to get the flavor of the starter right. I had to throw it away a couple of weeks after I started it because it turned pink. I started it again in September and it's been just fine ever since.

Sourdough Starter Recipe 

From Boudin Bakery


  • 1 small handful (1/4 to 1/3 cup) white (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of water
Tools & equipment
  • a small bowl
  • a towel, napkin, or other piece of cloth (not terry)
  • a large spoon


  1. In a mound of flour, make a small well and add the water.
  2. Slowly mix the flour and the water, bringing more flour into the center of the well. The mixture will gradually transform from a paste into a small piece of dough.
  3. Knead this small piece of dough with your fingers for about 5-8 minutes, until it becomes springy.
  4. Place the dough in a small bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 or 3 days.
  5. When it's ready, the dough will be moist, wrinkled, and crusty. If you pull off a piece of the crust, you'll find tiny bubbles and smell a sweet aroma.
  6. Throw away any hardened crust. "Refresh" the remaining piece by mixing it with twice the original amount of flour and enough water to make a firm dough. Set aside as before.
  7. After 1 or 2 days the starter will have a new, fresh look. Remove any dried dough and mix with about 1 cup of flour.
  8. Once again, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place for another 18-12 hours.
  9. When the starter is ready, it will appear fully risen, and a small indentation made with a finger won't spring back.

Now the starter is ready to be used in virtually any sourdough recipe.

Remember to save a small piece of the starter: You can put it in the refrigerator for several days, then refresh it again as above and use it to make another loaf. A good starter will serve you for years to come!

Now, let's get started making the sourdough bread...

Step 1:
Up to 12 hours before beginning the recipe, stir the starter and discard 1 cup. Feed the remaining starter with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. Let it sit for 4 to 12 hours before using in a recipe.

I completed the first step last night so the starter would be ready this morning. The starter has been resting on my counter all night. You get better flavor if you let it sit for a long time.

Step 2: Use however much "fed starter" the recipe calls for, and feed the remainder with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. Let this remaining starter sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, until bubbly, then cover and refrigerate.

  • Tip: If you're not planning to use your starter for over a week, take it out and feed it once a week with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. Start by discarding (or using) 1 cup of the starter. After mixing in more flour and water, you can return the starter to the refrigerator without waiting for it to get bubbly first. (I usually let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours even if I plan on returning it to the refrigerator because it gives it better flavor for the next batch of bread).

Look for more tips on maintaining a sourdough starter.

Now we're ready to make some basic sourdough bread in our bread machine.

I'm using a
basic sourdough bread recipe courtesy of Fleischmann Yeast. It is listed below. This is the first time I've made this particular recipe so we'll see how it goes. They also have a sourdough starter recipe you can use if you like, but I'm using the "wild starter" I created without the use of commercial yeast.

Basic Sourdough Bread (with homemade starter)*


1-Pound Loaf
  • 3/4 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1-1/2 Pound Loaf
  • 1-1/4 cups Sourdough Starter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

*Note: This version makes a mild sourdough bread. I like the bread machine sourdough that way because I use it for sandwich bread. If you prefer a more sour flavor, do the following before you mix the ingredients in the machine:

For the sourest Sourdough:

In a medium bowl, combine the water, starter, and half the flour. Cover and let the mixture stand for 24 hours until very sour and bubbly. Then combine the mixture with the remaining ingredients in the bread pan, use the recommended cycle (listed below) and press start.

Use the 1-pound recipe if your machine pan holds 10 cups or less of water. Add ingredients to bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer.
(If dough is too dry or stiff or too soft or slack, adjust dough consistency - see tips below.)

I used the recipe for the 1-1/2 pound loaf since my bread machine can handle that capacity. Here are the ingredients in the pan in the appropriate order for my bread machine.

I made well in the center for the yeast so it doesn't make contact with the liquid ingredients.

Recommended cycle:
Basic/white bread cycle; medium/normal color setting. Timed-bake feature can be used.

Adjusting Dough Consistency: After mixing for a few minutes, the ingredients should turn into a smooth ball around the kneading blade. If the dough appears too stiff or too soft, add more liquid or flour in 1 teaspoon increments, until the proper consistency is reached. Do not add more than 3 to 4 teaspoons liquid or flour. The machine can not compensate for wide variations and may not bake the larger amount of dough thoroughly.

The bread rising period is a little longer in this bread machine than other models I've used. So the bread starts cooking before the machine is finished processing the dough. That's why the crust looks a little funny.

I've been looking for a good sandwich bread to make in the bread machine. This one is easy and doesn't take much prep time.  It also tastes really good with tuna salad.

This bread actually tastes more sour the next day so unless you're in a big hurry to eat it, let it rest in a bread bag on the counter overnight. If you want a more sour flavor, then follow the directions above for the sourest of sourdoughs.

Happy Baking!

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