Breads and Crackers · Sourdough

Sourdough – The Second Batch of Bread


This is the other basic sourdough recipe in Ruth Allman's book Alaska Sourdough.  While the first recipe I used – the "Quick and Easy" one – contains additional yeast and baking soda to aid in the rise, this recipe does not.  In this batch we rely completely on the power of our starter. 

And, if you've been feeding and caring for your sourdough, you should have no problem with that.

First thing you'll need to do, if you want to make this entire (4 loaf) batch, is to build up your starter so that you'll have enough to donate 4 cups of it to the bread and have some left over to keep in your sourdough pot.  You can either build the starter up gradually over several days by adding maybe a cup of flour and a cup of water to the starter each day until you have enough, or you can do it all at once, with several cups of flour and several of water.  You can also add a pinch of sugar with the feeding, if you want to give the sourdough a slightly bigger boost.

Here's what you'll need, according to Ruth Allman (the recipe can be found on page 90 of her book):

4 cups Sourdough

2 cups potato water

1/2 cup sugar

6 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp salt


10 cups flour – approximately


I didn't have any potatoes (forget to get them at the store), so I just used plain ol' warm water.  I would also increase the salt maybe by another teaspoon – for a bit more flavor, but that's just me.

I would also advise that if you are planning to make this whole recipe, you make sure you have several REALLY BIG bowls on hand. 

Okay, once you have all the ingredients assembled, you're ready to go.

Make soft sponge mixing the Sourdough, sugar, water and oil.  Add half the flour. 


Set in warm place to double in bulk.



Add remainder of flour (and the salt – this is left out of the book, but this is when I'd make the addition) to make dough that is easy to handle, smooth and elastic. 


(here's where extremely big bowls come in handy)


(I stirred the flour in with a wooden spoon until it became too difficult to maneuver.  Then I dumped and scraped it all out onto the counter and finished working it by hand.)

* If you would like to see a slideshow of how to knead dough, you can go here.


(The magic of breadmaking – transforming the ingredients from this shaggy, lumpy mess into this…)


Before you continue with the recipe, if you have any doubt about the life of your sourdough (which you shouldn't, but we're all human), here's how you can check on it.  Poke the dough with your finger or fingers, up to or just past the first knuckle.


When you take your hand away, the dent will remain…


but as you watch, the dough will push back…


and the dent will almost disappear.


Pretty cool, no?  You can also use this little trick to see if your dough had finished rising.  If the dent fills in, as it did above, then the dough isn't finished.  But if the dent remains a dent, then the dough has risen all it can and you're ready to go on to the next step.

Place in greased bowl.  Cover.  Let raise in warm place until double in bulk.

Knead down.  Let raise to double bulk.


Form into loaves



or roll out 1/4" thick.  Roll lengthwise and place on cookie sheet.  Slash. 


Bake 500 for 10 minutes, then 400 for 45 minutes.



Sorry about the poor picture quality on these last two.  It was getting dark and the lighting wasn't great. 

One thing to keep in mind also, if you're mentally deficient like I am, is that when you decide to separate the loaves, you should probably put the pan down on the counter, rather than leaving it on the top of your 4-layer cooling rack.  Know why?  Because when you're (foolishly) picking up the two left-hand loaves to separate them, the balance on the pan will shift to the right in dramatic fashion, and the  nice loaves on the right that you'd just separated will FLY INTO THE AIR!  One will do a few Olympic dive style flips before landing on the floor.  (Fortunately your floor will be scrupulously clean and, five-second-rule in effect, you can safely put the loaf back on the counter.)  The other loaf will drop into your sink, where there will be a couple of large bowls soaking, and the loaf will land RIGHT IN THE WATER.  With your almost-lightning reflexes, you will snatch the loaf out of the bowl before it becomes entirely soggy, and you will trim off the wet half.  And you will curse your ineptitude, and you will opt not to take pictures of this latest fiasco, because really, why torture yourself over an over with the memory?

Just like the very first sourdough batch I made, the texture is soft with a tight, firm crumb.  Perfect for sandwiches, toast, french toast, and whatever else you can think of.  The flavor is nice – it still doesn't have a really noticeable sourdough tang, but that's okay – it's still a young sourdough.

And…because it's me…here's a not-very-great-but-still-kinda-cool shot of the starter, and water and oil, before I added the sugar and mixed it all together.  See how much fun it is to make bread?  You get to see cool science-class stuff like this!


19 thoughts on “Sourdough – The Second Batch of Bread

  1. My son has this book. He made a sour dough from this book. I’m not sure which one, but it is one that you refrigerate?

    He forgot about it for several months, and we ended up pitching it.

    The bread that he made from it tasted wonderful, though.

  2. chocolatechic – if you’re not going to use a starter every few days or so, then either you need to refrigerate it so it goes dormant but doesn’t die, or you need to feed it every so often and discard a portion of the starter if you end up with too much. So that’s probably why your son’s was in the fridge. I’ve done that – and then forgotten about it, and so by the time I think to use it again, it’s too late. This could happen with any kind of starter, not just the two potato starters in this book.

  3. Those are beautiful loaves! I tried making an oatmeal bread the other day. It was pretty good. I think tomorrow I’ll make french toast with it. It did not look as pretty as those sour dough loaves!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess I have bread envy too!!!!!!!!!! Hi Beth!

  4. I am relatively new to wild yeast baking, but love it!

    I have found that if you keep your sourdough in the fridge you only need to feed it every couple of weeks or so and I am sure you would make bread that often? I keep mine in the fridge door, split it in half when bread making time comes, feed half (1T starter, 3T flour, 2T water) and put it back in the fridge (not waiting for it to rise, it lasts longer that way) and use the other half to work up to how much I need for baking. You don’t need to keep much which keeps the feeding down to a minimum use of flour.

    This has worked well now for nearly three months. I have a white and a rye starter, but I really like the rye better I think from a taste point of view although they both rise well.

  5. Lynne,

    That sounds like a good idea – keeping small amounts in the fridge. I used to do that years ago. This time around I’m still using the starter pretty frequently at the moment, so I don’t mind keeping it out and feeding it often. But eventually, if I stop using it so often, I’ll probably move it into the fridge. The rye starter sounds good – I’ll have to get one of those going, too, at some point.

  6. Those loaves look wonderful! I love the “caramel brown” of the crusts. Thanks also for the step-by-step photos and the hilarious story about your runaway/Olympian loaves. Right now I am still baking with active dry yeast, but one day, when I have enough courage, I will try to capture some wild yeast for a sourdough starter. Hopefully I will be able to bake loaves that are as beautiful as yours!

  7. Hi – I just found your site today while I was looking for witch cakes for Halloween. I was excited to see your sourdough entries as I just started my our sourdough started a few months back. Your bread looks WONDERFUL. I must keep practicing. I too have bread envy. 🙂

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