Sourdough bread

In 2000 & Beyond, 3-Wilhelmina (Bee) Garris King 1918-2007, 5-Michaela King 1985- on May 13, 2009 at 5:22 pm

sourdough bread by michaela july 2009

To Make starter

1 cup starter (use what I’ve given you)
3 tablespoon potato flakes
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup warm water from tap

Mix & let stand overnight or 12 hours. Pour off 1 cup starter & save for next time in fridge. Good in (3-10 days)

To Make basic receipe

use rest of starter
6 cup Pillsbury Bromated flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 or more cup of hot water from tap. If dry use more water.

Knead together with hands. Place in large bowl with a little oil on top. Let stand 8-12 hours until well risen.

Punch down & let sit 10 minutes. Make into loaves, rolls, etc. Pour melted oleo over bread. Let rise 6-10 hrs. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

For whole wheat bread use:

4 cup Pillsbury Bromated flour
2 cups ” whole wheat flour
(are at grocery store)

recipe sourdough

(Editor’s note: This post has gone through more updates than I can count. The photos above are of, first, a loaf of sourdough Michaela baked in her apartment in July 2009. The rest of the pictures are of Michaela and the starter she brought along on the family trip to Florida in August 2009. Then we have Grandma/Momma/Bee’s sourdough recipe, which — as bakers in the comments below noted — does not actually tell you how to make the starter if you lack a friend to share some with you. Thus, I looked through all of Grandma’s cookbooks and found the below recipe for a starter. Granted, the ingredients still include “1 cake yeast,” so it’s still not REALLY the traditional way of doing things. And I’ve never before heard the command to make a new starter every two weeks. But at least this is a “start!”)

Liquid starter or potato yeast

3 medium potatoes
4 cups boiling water
1 cake yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup sifted flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Pare and dice potatoes and cook in boiling water until very tender. Drain, saving liquid. Mash potatoes thoroughly and return to liquid. Cool to lukewarm. Soften yeast in lukewarm water and add to potatoes with remaining ingredients. Beat well. Cover and let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Pour into sterilized jar, cover and store in cool, dark place. Use 1 cup of the mixture to replace 1 yeast cake in recipes. Fresh starter should be prepared at least every 2 weeks, using 1 cup of the old or a fresh cake of yeast.

cookbook starter

  1. that sounds…

  2. Yes!! YES!!! MWHAHAHAHA! I will make this.
    This was my favorite GM recipe ever, y’all. The other day I was at my friend’s house, and a church member had given her a loaf of bread from some unknown bakery. That bread tasted exactly like Grandma’s bread, and I started crying and couldn’t stop eating it.

  3. there was a time when we got on a home baked bread kick for a while – it was marvelous! It didn’t happen often, but when it did, we had fresh baked bread for breakfast, lunch, and supper – then one more piece before bed time!

  4. When we were in the Bahamas (New Plymoth) we bought a loaf of unsliced bakery bread and when back to the boat and ate it for supper with fig preserves… Yum Yum…

  5. Carey, is this missing the step as to how to make “starter”? The hand written page starts with feeding the starter; but starter has to start with yeast. Any chance that is in the instructions somewhere else?

  6. That’s what I was wondering – do we need some yeast in there?

  7. Okay, intrepid bakers, I will tell you what I know. I have read that, in traditional old-timey cooking, women used natural leavening (i.e., not pre-packaged Fleischmann’s yeast packets) in their bread. The science behind this, I think, is that there are yeasts EVERYWHERE in our environment — in the air, in flour, on potatoes — and so if you just make a mixture of either potatoes and water or flour and water and set it in a warm place (like on the stove, which is slightly warm from the pilot light) you can catch yourself some yeast and watch it grow. The yeast eats the carbohydrates (i.e., the potatoes or flour) and converts them to sugars and a clear liquid. And then you have your own sourdough starter.

  8. Another thought: This process TAKES A WHILE. This is why, back in 1868, Max and Charles Fleischmann started marketing their packaged, quick-acting yeast — which, according to the Fleischmann website, they said was much, much better than bakers’ traditional “unreliable home-brewed starters and leaveners.” (Sounds a bit snooty to me. See and click on “History.”)

  9. Another thought (one that occurred to me while celebrating Passover with Sammy’s family this year): During Passover week, if you’re celebrating the traditional way, you switch out all the leavened breads in your kitchen for a thin, plain cracker called matzah (also spelled “matzo”). This is because Passover celebrates the Exodus from Egypt — the time, of course, when the Jews had to flee Pharaoah so fast that there was no time for the bread in their ovens to rise. (See Exodus 12:33-34: “The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, ‘We shall all be dead.’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders.” And then verse 39, about once they’d set off on the journey: “They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.” And also see 13:7; Passover is also known as “Pesach” or the Festival of Unleavened Bread.) ALL OF THIS IS TO SAY that after I’d talked to the Indian woman and started to understand just how long it takes TO MAKE traditional leavening, the Passover story had much more impact on me! 🙂

  10. And, finally, one more explanation. In Grandma’s recipe box, we have three copies of this recipe — all handwritten, all on the same type of paper. Thinking archivally — Michaela, aren’t you proud? 🙂 — I’m assuming that this must be because Grandma had a LOT of starter on her hands and needed to give some away. So I’m sure she didn’t want the ladies in her circle group, or whoever it was she was peddling the stuff off to, to know anything about MAKING their own starter. She wanted them to take some of hers! (Mama/Aunt Penny kept some starter in the fridge for a while, and she will tell you that the care and feeding of a starter becomes something like a pet — you have to keep baking with it and feeding it, or else it will die. It gets to be demanding.)

  11. Okay, REALLY the last thing this time: I went through the most falling-apart of Grandma’s cookbooks (one with no cover, so I can’t identify it, but it looks like it could be “The Joy of Cooking” or something similarly encyclopedic … Aunt Boyd, do any of these covers look familiar to you: and found a recipe for potato starter. So I am going to edit this entry and re-post above. It is the ONLY starter recipe I can find among all of Grandma’s cookbooks, so she either must have used this or she’d gotten her starter from someone else who needed to give some away.

  12. Brilliant. So, my plan is that I’m trying both ways in my attempt to recreate the Sourdough Perfection. Right now, as we speak, I have a basic starter from the original recipe on the stove gathering wild yeast from the air. I will try to make the bread from that over the next couple of days, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try the Potato Starter.

    You know, Carey, that Potato Starter may be the reason why GM’s bread was so moist and dense – potato bread tends to be denser and thicker than other breads, and it would also probably explain the sweetness of it. I have a hunch that you are correct. Also, I’ve just spent the last 10 minutes explaining your process of deduction to my roommate and raving like a mad scientist over the gastronomic machinations of my amazing family!

    I will keep you updated on further developments.

  13. To the sour dough team: Yes, the Joy of Cooking cover from 1963 looks familiar. I do think that Grandma was given her starter, and yes, when it says you have to make new starter every two weeks, they mean you have to use one cup of your mixture to make new. That is the feeding step. I never used real potatoes… I used instant mash potato flakes.

  14. Hey Michaela! I was just thinking about wonderful you and wondering … how goes the sourdough project? I’m so glad we have you to play scientist! 🙂

  15. The starter with potato flakes and no yeast has showed absolutely no change or growth whatsoever. I haven’t had the opportunity to make bread yet, but I’m doubtful that anything will happen in that version. I’ll keep you updated!

  16. So. I threw out that plain no-yeast starter because it looked ridiculous. Today I am making the potato starter recipe, and I’ve just encountered a problem: when boiling the potatoes till tender, they boiled dry. But starter should be more liquid than not, so I’m wondering whether I boiled them at too high a temperature. If so, should I put more water in? Emeril has a sourdough recipe with potato starter, and he recommends discarding the potatoes and using 2 1/2 cups of the water leftover. Gma’s recipe doesn’t say discard the potatoes, however, so I’m thinking that perhaps I should just add 2 1/2 cups of water? Does anyone have any help on that?

  17. I ended up adding 1 1/2 cups of water to the potatoes. Once I got all the ingredients together, it looked ok. It’s thicker than water, but not too thick, hopefully. Now it’s sitting for 24 hours, and I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow!

  18. Ok, so I did it! I made everything as exactly to the recipe as I could, and no wonder Grandma stopped making it as she got older – it involves strength and lots of planning for all that rising!
    The final result is a bread that is the same texture and density of her bread, but not as sweet. I’m going to try it again with a few modifications and see what happens. But it’s yummy yummy!

  19. Oh, Michaela, I am SO PROUD! Will you take a photo for us, or is it so yummy that it is all eaten now?

  20. P.S. I’m e-mailing my friend Rita from the train to see if she has any advice regarding the no-yeast starter.

  21. I still have the starter, but it’s starting to smell fermented, even though I’m keeping it in the refrigerator. I’m always terribly confused about starter – when do you leave it out and when do you put it in the fridge? And when you use it to make the bread, do you take a cup of the old starter and concoct a new starter while using everything else to make more bread, or do you just feed the old starter while using whatever you want to make however much bread you want? I’m in the process of finding the answers to these questions, but in that process, this starter may go to ruin. It’s ok, though, because I can make more.

  22. Rita says I got her recipe for sourdough starter mixed up with her recipe for make-your-own yogurt — both of which, you see, involve friendly bacteria. Oops. Michaela, I promise I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one on you. Check out Sourdoughs International, this website of a guy who has traveled around the world collecting various sourdough cultures that he will now sell to you. He is of the opinion that each culture has its own particular taste and that each works best with particular flours. Wonder how your potato flakes would differ from his Lactobacillus sanfrancisco?

  23. Also check out the Wild Yeast blog.

  24. Found a website that seems to have really neat advice on the care of a starter:

  25. I am very interested in the breadmaking thread, but I guess you have to check the little box on a post to know all this discussion is happening.
    So I think when you make the bread, you add the “feeding” to your starter; let it stand out in the warm for 8 hours, then take a cup of the starter and give it away, throw away or make bread with it. Then you return the starter to the frid for the next 5-7 days until it will need to be fed again. That makes a loaf of bread a week, if you like!
    Any chance you are bringing bread to Orlando? 🙂

  26. I am so excited to see this!

    I can tell you how to start the starter and it is really easy! NO YEAST NEEDED!!!!

    You start the starter by “feeding” an empty container as you would if it had starter in it minus dumping out one cup. Leave it out overnight and feed it again this time dumping out 1 cup of mixture. It will take apox 3-4 days of feedingand you will have bubbles and froth and a starter! If you do not get bubbles or froth that means your kitchen is too cold. An easy trick, put the light on in your oven and put the starter in there. Starter needs 70-80 degrees to activate. The same thing for making your bread rise. Put it in the oven with the light on over night and bake first thing in the morning.

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