Thursday, August 18, 2011

Easy and Fast (sort of...) Sourdough Bread

The most ancient method for making bread, bar none, is without doubt, sourdough. All other aspects of bread making aside, the oldest method is clearly sourdough. It requires patience above all because, when done in the traditional way, just setting up the process can sometimes take weeks or months. And once the 'starter' is working, then you have to let the dough sit and ferment and grow sometimes for days. This comes from the days when there was no instant yeast or even fresh yeast, the kind we buy in small cubes of 50g (almost 2oz.). So... you have to set up a water and flour solution and leave it uncovered to ferment and, hopefully, collect some wild yeast from the air in your kitchen. Different places have different strains of yeast, and so some sourdough 'starters' are particularly prized. But actually, because wild yeast is pretty much anywhere, you can always start your own starter, with a lot of patience, and a little luck.

But there is another way. Let's be clear about this. Yeast, whether wild from the air, or from a package at the supermarket, is still yeast. We can help the process along, and have sourdough bread almost identical to the artisan breads that take weeks to produce. Here's how...

Here's What You'll Need:

for the starter:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup warm water
1/4 tsp. instant yeast

for the dough:
1 cup rye flour
1 cup AP flour
all of the starter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. instant yeast
enough water to make a soft (slightly sticky) dough

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Mix the flour, water and yeast together in a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, then leave it on the counter, at room temperature for at least 24 hours. The starter will bubble up then collapse. When you open the plastic wrap, it will smell sour.

2. The next day, mix all the remaining ingredients in another bowl, adding just enough water to make a soft, but slightly sticky dough.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until it doubles in size. This will be slower than usual, about 2 hours or more depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl without deflating too much. Divide it into two pieces and shape into loaves. Place each piece in a loaf pan 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches. Cover and let the loaves rest for about an hour or until they rise just over the tops of the pans.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350F (175C). Cool on a rack.


  1. This sounds real easy and looks real good. Thanks. Will have to print it out and give it a whirl. :)

  2. I love sourdough bread, but refrained from meddling with a "real" sourdough, which seems as being enslaved to feedings and etc. I have already raised my babies, paid my dues to society and I had enough :)
    So, thank you soooooo much for this easy recipe and have a beautiful and tasty Shabbat.

  3. This really is a fairly simple recipe but so good! The taste is just like the real thing without the hassle of feeding schedules etc. Enjoy!

  4. 2 questions. First, does the humidity of your location affect the starter? IE: coastal climates are different than arid Israeli climes. Second, do you reserve some of the starter for another recipe? My experience has been that you measure out a portion of the starter and then replace the same amount of flour and water into the starter.

  5. OK so it is certainly much drier here than in Vancouver. Humidity in the summer runs around 15-20%, temps around 30-35C. Winter is different but for now, it will take longer for your bread to rise because of lower temps and also it is wetter (so the dough is heavier). Second, the point of this fast version of sourdough is to avoid the feeding ritual along with the throwing away half and re-feeding as you describe. It is a one shot deal. Next time make more 'easy' starter, wait 24-48 hours to ferment then prepare and bake. The other way (traditional) is more work and not necessarily more satisfying. Hope this helps.