How to Use Your Sourdough Starter to Make Bread

So, you’ve made your sourdough starter and you’re ready to make bread. If you’ve ever made a loaf of homemade bread before you know that it has a tendency to get funky really quick! The really awesome thing about sourdough (aside from the delicious taste and the 5 great health benefits shared over at Real Food Forager) is that it stays nice and fresh on the counter for a week or so. I keep mine stored on a wooden cutting board covered with a towel. I just store it with the cut side of the bread facing the counter.

Now, are you ready to get down to business and make some tasty bread?

If you’re starting fresh with a brand new starter that has never been refrigerated, your starter will probably look a little bit like this:

But, if your starter has been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, it will have separated. The top part is called the hooch (I am also wondering why…) and as long as it hasn’t turned pink you should be good to go. 

Don’t throw out the hooch, as it has something to do with the natural yeast and rising of the bread. Just stir it into the batter and you’re ready to go. Make sure you let the starter come to room temperature before you try to mix up your dough!

What you’re going to need to make your bread (2 loaves):

4 cups of starter (at room temperature)
6-6.5 cups of flour (I like to use white whole wheat but you can use any type you prefer)
1 1/4 Tablespoons real salt (or any salt)
3/4 cup of water

In your food processor, or in a bowl, stir up the starter, salt and a half cup of water. Slowly stir in the flour. You may have to mix with your hands or turn on the food processor. If you need to you can mix in another 1/4 cup of water. I usually only mix in 6 cups of flour. Let your food processor rock and roll for about 10 or so minutes, or you can call it your arm workout for the day and stretching and folding over the dough by hand.

Once the dough is done being kneaded it will look something like this:

Its a whole different ballgame from standard bread dough, don’t you think?

Now butter 2 loaf pans really well. Don’t be greedy with the butter, but make sure you’ve got plenty left so you can have a piece of your fresh bread with some butter. What’s better than that?

OK, gently shape your dough into 2 loafs and place in the pans like so:

Cover the pans with towels and set them somewhere out of the way to rise for anywhere from 4-12 hours. I like to microwave some water in a cup and once it is done heating up I stick in the covered loaves and they love to rise in that nice steamy microwave.

Here they are after about 8 hours. Maybe I’m just a dork, but I still get excited every time that the bread is just made from water, flour and salt and it rises up so well! 

Looks good to me, so its time to put those bad boys in the oven.  

Bake them at 350 for 1 hour. Check them just a little bit before just to make sure they’re not getting too done. You’ll know they’re done when the loaves are a nice golden color and sound hollow if they are lightly tapped.

Now it’s time for an exercise in willpower. You’re supposed to let the bread cool before you slice it! I know it is hard, but it is worth the wait :) I promise!

Look at all how good it rose! Are you as excited as I am? Maybe I need to get a life :) I forgot to take a picture of the bread in all it’s glory toasted with a nice pat of melty butter so I guess you’ll just have to make some for yourself now!

Did you miss the post on how to make your starter? Head on over and check it out.

PS- The extra loaf freezes well. Just stick it in a ziploc bag and when you’re ready to defrost, take it out of the bag, stick it on the counter under a towel and it will be ready to go.

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