Your Favourite White Sourdough Bread


Hi all.

I've made a variety of sourdough breads since this obsession hit a couple of months ago (is that all it is...a couple of months? Scary - my life has changed and there ain't no way back!). All my breads have been nice without being spectacular. Now I'm in quest of a REALLY FLAVOURSOME white sourdough.

I've done a pain de levain, which is probably a fairly standard recipe - nice, but not sensational.

My best-tasting bread so far is the Norwich sourdough (as adapted by Susan, of the WildYeast site, from Vermont Sourdough in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman), which has a small amount of rye as well as white flour. It's just a little heavier than the white loaf I'm questing after.

So, would be most interested to hear from anyone who has a white sourdough recipe they love.

I am aware that flavour comes partly from quality ingredients. I am using the best organic flours available here, and I'm confident they're pretty good. That said, the best bread I've ever tasted was in Germany - and I mean all over Germany. Every second corner seemed to have a little privately-owned bakery serving up a huge variety of bread, sourdough and otherwise, that has no equal that I've come across anywhere else...although I live in hope!

No doubt there are also great breads in France and other regions - the baguettes I tasted over there were LOVELY, and although white, were so tasty (not sourdough though, as far as I'm aware).

My conclusion was, and is, that the Euro flours are better than Australian ones. Unless I am bigoted by nostalgia, even the top quality breads I've had in Oz are not up with the German ones...and I have never had white bread here to compare with the flavour of a Parisienne baguette. Sigh...drool... Normal 0     



281 users have voted.


rossnroller 2009 August 3
I'm surprised there have not been any responses thus far. Maybe my post was a bit intimidating in its references to the Euro breads I found unsurpassable (so far) in flavour. If so, my apologies!

I am not about to get all judgmental about anyone's recipe if it doesn't hit the very high mark of my perhaps now idealised recollection of those German loaves (besides, the baker is a factor, as well as the starter and flour used, so my version of your recipe cannot be compared with your version)!

Is it, perhaps, that most sourdough baking folk prefer non-white varieties of bread?

Or maybe most white bread is not sourdough?

Whatever, VERY interested in your favourite white(ish) sourdough if you have one. PLEASE post!

NB: My only sourdough recipe book has a pain de mie, and I'd like to try it, but the author has left out one of the ingredients. I'm loathe to guess at the quantity, so haven't tried baking the bread for fear of messing it up and wasting the ingredients.
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 August 5

Have you tried Ed Woods sourdough yet?  I think he has a recipe on his website.  Check out Teresa's site at Northwest Sourdough and give Pane Teresa a try.  I don't think I have a favorite white yet... somehow some other type of flour always seems to fall in the dough when I try to go white.  Pasta Dura and Ciabatta are other wonderful tasty whites or mostly whites.  And ciabatta is a great way to to learn more about wet doughs. 


rossnroller 2009 August 5
Appreciate your responses and recommendations.

I know ciabatta well, and I agree that it is a very flavoursome bread. I have made a ciabatta - it worked out quite well, and was, indeed, tasty - crumb not holey enough, though. I'll try another recipe next time I make one, although I suspect the fault was with the baker, not the recipe! I found this the most difficult of any bread I've tried so far in terms of handling the dough and getting it safely into the oven, being such a wet dough to work with.

Thanks for alerting me to Pane Teresa and the Northwest Sourdough site. I'll certainly check that out, although on my initial search (which was quick) I couldn't find a recipe for Pane Teresa - only some YUMMY looking pics. It looks quite like ciabatta, yes?

Just one point of clarification, pls: when you refer to Ed Wood's sourdough, are you speaking of a particular loaf, or his breads generally? Again, I couldn't find his site on my initial search, but did find a lot of references to him. Will look into it more thoroughly as time permits. Ditto Pane Dura.


Thanks for your recipe link - not a white, but it looks fantastico. I will definitely try it soon!

lily 2009 August 10
Get yourself a copy of Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf" (Mitchell Beazely) and take yourself through the white leaven bread recipe.  It also produces lovely pizza, baguettes, rolls and fougasse.  He'll edumecate you! :)
rossnroller 2009 August 11
Ta, Lily. I've already got Dan Lepard's book included with a few others that I'm planning on ordering from Amazon. His name seems to pop up frequently as one of the foremost bread gurus, along with Jeffrey Hamelman, Daniel Leader and Peter Reinhart.

I probably should start another thread on this, but do you have any of the books by Hamelman, Leader or Reinhart? Just wondering how Lepard's book compares? (I note Lepard is from the UK, while the others are American...not that that means anything - just an observation).
matthew 2009 August 11


My favourite is Hammelman's basic Vermont sourdough either with rye or wholemeal wheat.  I've kind of gone off a straight white.  I used to make the white loaf from Dean Brettschneider's book Baker.

My most frequently used book at the moment is Hamelman's Bread.  I've also got BBA from Reinhart, two of Brettschneider's books (he's a Kiwi like me) and Village Baker by Joe Ortiz (which I'm embarrassed to say I've never made anything from).  I also make breads i've copied out of Maggie Glezer's Artisan Bakers and Carol Field's Italian Baker.

I like Hamelman because he explains the theory extremely well in a way that is easy to understand and practical.  His formulas also have a metric version which I find easier to scale (it's written up in a commercial scale) though I still need to convert all his temperatures to metric.  I don't have Lepard but his formulas will all be metric.  I prefer a book that uses weights rather than cups so Hamelman provides that.  Reinhardt is not metric so I need to convert everything which is a bit of a pain, lovely book though, lots of good pictures.


lily 2009 August 11

Great tips, Matthew. I've got some of these books on order for greater understanding of the whole process.

I find Dan Lepard's book excellent for the incidental tips one picks up as well as recipes that work.  Also his website continues his work to demystify techniques and 'try something different for a different result'.

'The Bread Builders' by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott is aimed at artisan bakers in masonry ovens but gives good theory and examples of sourdough baking too.  The 'recipes' are part of the story and make a good read.

rossnroller 2009 August 11
Yes, thanks a lot Matthew. You've confirmed Hammelman as a must-have for me. Ditto re Dan Lepard, lily.

I've got collector's blood and tend to get a bit obsessive, so I've got to keep my list of must-haves manageable lest I veer towards acquiring bread books rather than using them for improving my baking! I had 9 bread books in my Amazon shopping cart until doing a recent cull.

You guys have made the final choice a bit easier, so ta!
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 12
[quote=rossnroller]I'm surprised there have not been any responses thus far. Maybe my post was a bit intimidating in its references to the Euro breads I found unsurpassable (so far) in flavour. If so, my apologies!

I am not about to get all judgmental about anyone's recipe if it doesn't hit the very high mark of my perhaps now idealised recollection of those German loaves (besides, the baker is a factor, as well as the starter and flour used, so my version of your recipe cannot be compared with your version)!

Is it, perhaps, that most sourdough baking folk prefer non-white varieties of bread?

Or maybe most white bread is not sourdough?

Whatever, VERY interested in your favourite white(ish) sourdough if you have one. PLEASE post!

NB: My only sourdough recipe book has a pain de mie, and I'd like to try it, but the author has left out one of the ingredients. I'm loathe to guess at the quantity, so haven't tried baking the bread for fear of messing it up and wasting the ingredients.

Because you already know how to make bread, I'll skip the directions. I love my own bread, and have discovered that with my own starter cultures, and manipulating hydration, I get an excellent chewy crumb and and a wonderful a la dente crust. I too loved German and French breads, and about the only style I make anymore are my plain French, and Kaiser rolls. I even do the five fold 'whack-it-down' forming for german baekerei style broetchen.

I use 1-1/2 cups (350 gm) of freshly fed starter (my Humboldt County for bread, and my Columbia River Settlers culture for the German Kaiser rolls.)
1/4 cup (110 gm) water at body temperature
1-1/2 TBS oil, (olive, corn, vegetable, melted lard or butter -- all give a slightly different taste)
4 cups (550 gm) of unbleaced white bread flour
1-1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 TBS of sugar ( I like to use Carnation Brand malt powder for beverages when I have it, or any other sugar if I don't)
1 TBS dry milk powder
(Optionally, for an even chewier crumb, one egg)

All of this will fit into a bread machine that will make a two pound batch, even though it will actually weigh about 2 Kg.

Set it for the dough cycle, add the ingredients in the order suggested for your machine, or of course you can always mix and knead by hand. I can't because of arthritis, so I use the mixer to do the work.

As soon as the kneading is done, remove it from the machine, and put the dough into an oiled bowl to rise. When doubled, (the longer you let it rise, the better the sour flavor) punch down, form into loaves. I make both 4 inch batards, and ordinary loaf pan loaves, depending on my whim of the moment. Again, let the dough proof until it doubles in bulk.

Oven to 450 degrees F, spritz the oven walls or generate steam by any other method you prefer. Bake for 12 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 F, and bake another 18 to 20 minutes. This will depend entirely on the colour crust you want.  A very dark brown will take 21 or 22 minutes. I happen to like a lighter coloured crust

Tap to test for doneness, turn out on racks.

If you don't have a good starter, I sell both of mine at

Hope this helps!
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 August 12

I forgot it's so hard to find her recipes sometimes.  She is about to publish a book, I am looking forward to seeing it!  This is the topic where she first posted the recipe here on sourdough companion.  There is a link in the post that goes to the recipe on her site.  It is a basic white recipe that bill named Pane Teresa.

You seem to be drumming up some great recipe ideas, I'll have to try out some of them myself.


By the way DeeDee..?

"I even do the five fold 'whack-it-down' forming for german baekerei style broetchen."

Do you have any pictures of this technique?  Are you saying sourdough broetchen?

rossnroller 2009 August 13
Thanks DeeDee! White sourdough bread recipes to try are now queued up, yours most certainly included!

And like Millciti, I'm VERY interested in your broetchen recipe. Having those scrumptious broetchen for breakfast while in Germany - the ones you get all over the place, with the cross slashed on the top - bought fresh from the local corner bakerei just minutes before, is amongst my fondest German bread memories. I used to walk through the snow at 6.45am in the dark in sub-zero winter temps to get them from the local bakery while living in Cologne. Not that that was anything unusual for the locals. The little bakerei was always full of early risers getting their broetchen for breakfast. So delicious, fresh and buttered, with schinken, brie, honey, jam, nutella etc. I suspect the ones I used to get were not sourdough, but not sure about that. Anyway, if you are prepared to share your recipe here, would be fantabuloso.

And thanks a lot, Millciti, for the Pane Teresa link. Queued up!
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 13
Yes, I use nothing but one of my sourdough cultures for any of my breads. If you think about it, it is the only way that commercial bakeries could possibly have existed for the last seven or eight thousand years. I have embarked on a campaign to acquire an international collection of sourdough cultures, but in deference to the scientific method, The only way to rate them for taste and quality is to use the same two recipes for each culture. I use my standard, 'basic' French bread, and 'plain' unadorned kaiser rolls. Of course I make a lot of other breads and rolls, but those two are what my family prefers, and at this point, I can almost do it in my sleep!

In looking over the entry I made above, fpr my normal sourdough French, I miscalculated the conversions from imperial to metric units. In future, I'll post in imperial units, and some kind soul over there in Oz can convert them. Part of the problem is liquid measure, which is easy to convert because it is based on weight 1 cc = 1 gm,  and dry measure, which is not. I don't have a list of normal weights, unless I were to sit down with my kitchen scale and weigh the items.

I found the technique on The Fresh Loaf a year or so ago, posted by a retired baker from a Jewish neighborhood in New York City. I'm logged on there now, and am searching for the the video, or series of still photos of the technique. Once you see what he's doing, you will slap your forehead and like Homer Simpson, say, "Dohh!"

Here is one link for the general idea:

... and here is the photo series of forming technique.

... and here is the video on YouTube.

I have discovered that sprizting the surface of the round and whacking the  palm of your hand down on each seam does two things, seals the seam *inside* but not the seam between folds, to keep them from proofing 'blind' or growing together. If you do it exactly as the photos show, they are too high for my aesthetic sense, more like decorated hard rolls. I prefer them to be not quite so high and rounded. De gustibus non est disputandum.

The comments mention finding malt powder as a problem in some places. Almost everywhere in the Western world one can find Carnation brand malt powder, the same stuff that distinguishes a milk shake from a malted shake. The ingredients list shows that it is mostly malt sugar, with a few other additives. It tastes great, is easy to find, and substitutes one for one for any sugar in my recipes.

As a side note, I weigh the individual balls out at 3 ounces, yielding 12 rolls to my usual 1 Kg batch. I use the same recipe for bagels. The onion buns are another variation on the same recipe.

As I said at the beginning, I use only my sourdough cultures, and haven't used commercial Fleischmann's yeast for years. Because I'm a 'both suspenders and belt' sort of person, I do keep one of the big 4 ounce jars in my fridge 'just in case'.

This is entirely too long, but you should take these summary points from the post. I think it is a good idea to register for and browse The Fresh Loaf site,, because it seems to have answers for even the most peculiar questions. On the other hand, it is far too large an enterprise to have the personal connection that you, and now I, have here.

meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 13
I'm sure you have read the post I made just above, and when I'm fully caffeinated this morning, I'll list the ingredients for the kaiser rolls. This time, all in Imperial measurements, and you are on your own for conversion!    B^)

meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 13
Wet ingredients:
1-1/2 cups freshly fed sourdough, after an hour of activitiy
1/4 cup body temperature water
1-1/2 TBS oil (any type)
1 egg
(and an additional egg whisked with cold water for the wash will be needed later.)

Dry ingredients:
4 cups unbleached white bread flour
(if you use all purpose flour, add 1 TBS of live gluten)
2 TBS Carnation (or other) malt powder
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1 TBS dry milk powder
a small amount of white rye flour for dusting your board, hands and the rounds of dough

I use a machine to do the scut work. If you have a sturdy upright mixer, with bread hooks,
just dump everything in the bowl and let it go for 15 minutes. In a bread machine, add the
wet ingredients first, then the dry. Set the machine for the dough cycle and let it do its thing.
You might have to help it along with a rubber spatula to get all the ingredients incorporated

At the end of the mixing and kneading cycle, which should be about 20 minutes,
move the doughball to an oiled bowl, cover and proof at room temperature until dough
has doubled in bulk -- anything from two to three hours. Punch down.

A kitchen scale should show that you have about 36 ounces, or 1 Kg. I divide this into
twelve balls. Let these rest, covered with a damp tea towel for 10 minutes.

Begin forming the rolls according to the video, or photo series linked above.

Sprinkle on the embellishments, sesame or poppy seeds, and turn them upside down on
the work surface or directly onto the sheet pans which you have lightly sprinkled with white rye flour.

At this point, if you want to develop a really rich sourdough flavor, you can cold proof them
by putting the formed and seeded rolls in the fridge for several hours, or even over night.

If on the other hand you want to just get on with it, turn the formed and seeded rolls right side up
after about 45 minutes, and preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232C)
When the rolls (six to a pan allows plenty of room for them to rise, and then bloom
in the oven) are ready to go into the oven, paint them with the egg wash, or simply spritz the
tops with water, and then thoroughly spritz the inside of the oven, to make steam.

(Other methods to provide a lot of steam for the baking rolls include putting an iron skillet on
a rack at the very bottom of the oven, and just before sliding the sheet pans in, throw half a
dozen ice cubes into the hot iron skillet.)

Bake at 450F (232C) for about 12 minutes, turn the oven down to 350F (177 C) for another 12 - 15 minutes
You will be able to judge by the color when they are done. As you can see from my photos, linked
in an earlier post, I like them somewhat less brown. Of course, that will be entirely  a matter of
personal preference.


matthew 2009 August 13
I also have bread builders, and it is a fascinating book.  I didn't list it because it doesn't contain a whole lot of formulas, so I didn't consider it.  It has a lot of information about sourdough and the microbiology though which is very interesting.  I also used it as an extensive reference when building my oven.  And if you find masonary ovens fascinating then it's worth buying the book just for this.
I've read Dan's book from the library (I too am trying not to collect too many books and already have a good number) and belong to his forum which is fascinating.  I especially like the "This Bakers Life" forum.
Annie-Bali's picture
Annie-Bali 2009 August 15
Many thanks DeDe,
I have just received a digital scale & for the 1st time, thought I would give it a try & make a bread that was made to 'measure' & not by my 'guesse & add' method :) Sooooo, here i am with a bread machine I brought over with us in the cargo & not ever used for a SD loaf, and 350g of fresh made starter & wondering what the hell to do with it :)
Not only have you given me a recipe, BUT I will not feel so bad about using the machine to do the kneading for me. Also, I am not able to get any 'real' flour, can only get ultra processed, Indonesian, white bread. I do pay for imported, organic rye for my starter, BUT, at $8.00AUS for 500g, cannot afford to use it all for just a loaf or 2 !! When TP comes to visit in November, she will bring me some organic flour, the 1st ever Bali Bake Off!!!! To think this site has introduced me to some wonderful people, YEHHHHHH for the internet & 'cyber' pen-pals. TP also sent me some of her 'baby' starter so it is a very well travelled & supported starter.
I am now off to bake, using your recipe, many thanks.
jacklang 2009 August 15

I should add mine, since the starter you have came from me, via TP...

A couple of observations:

You can increase flavour by adding 10% rye. at say 50g/loaf that should not break the bank.

The formula below can be used in many ways.

Usually I make tin loaves or 1Kg dough weight boules. These I hand mix (stretch and fold method). I do reccomend this method.

For baguettes I find its better to aggressively machine mix - I use strong food processor. You should almost overmix.

Anyway here is the method I hand out with the starter

Hand made Sourdough Bread Instructions (1Kg dough weight loaf)

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This is a basic sourdough recipe. It works well both for white and wholemeal flour, and for baguette (330g), batard (500g) and miche (large round (1Kg)) or tin shapes.


1. Make the starter sponge (preferment)

200g Flour

200g Water

1 Tbs starter from the mother culture

Mix together to a smooth cream. Stand covered in a warm place (27C/85F) for 12-24 hours or until bubbly. Temperature is important and it should be within a few degrees of 27C/85F.

NB  this makes a wet starter or “poolish naturele”, 100% hydration which is easier for hand mixing.

If mixing by machine or food processor a slightly better flavour is from a stiff starter or “aceto Biga” 50% hydration, 200g flour to 100g water,  and add the extra water into the final dough.

The flavour comes from the long fermentation of the starter.


2. Premix the flour and water for the dough


400g flour (Add 40g rye if liked)

220g water (320g if using a stiff starter) (this gives 70% hydration)

12g salt

Optionally a small pinch vitamin C

Mix together, Leave for an hour or more.



  1. Make the dough

All the starter sponge

All the premix


By hand: roughly mix, No need to knead, time and water develop the gluten. Fold into 3, sides to middle and then top and bottom to middle every 30 mins or so like you are making flaky pastry. A lttle oil on your hands and working surface stops the dough sticking. Put in an oiled covered basin in between times. Handle softly, so as not to knock out the gas


By machine: Mix together  in a strong food processor or mixer for 2 mins, until the dough picks up on the blade and then releases. Roughly shape


After two hours from mixing turn out onto a floured or oiled board. Handle gently. Shape and put upside down into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton).  You can improvise from a sieve and floured tea towel. Put inside a plastic bag. 


Either prove in a warm place (27C/80F) for 1 hour, or put into the fridge for anything from 12 to 24 hours (retard). Putting the dough in the fridge allows you to bake when you want, and  its easier to handle, less critical in timing and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. You can bake from cold.

Allow no more then 4 hours, unless retarded in the fridge,  from mixing to baking.  Overnight in the firdge counts as 2 of those hours.

The dough is soft, so needs the support of the basket.

When you are ready to bake the dough heat the oven as hot as it will go, ideally about 220C/450F.

For a home oven the best way to bake is to take a large casserole, such as a Le Cruset and pre heat it empty in the hot oven. Put the dough in it (it won’t stick) and put the lid on, put it back in the oven, Remove the lid after 20 minutes or so to let the crust dry. The casserole simultes the steamy atmosphere and all round (especially bottom heat of a baker's oven.

BAke for 40 mins total.

Flavours and additions: I prefer plain, but you can make an infinite variety of breads.  Add with the salt, but you might want to hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit fine.


Onions (soften in butter first),  Onion and raisins together is good

Hazelnuts, walnuts


Sun-dried tomatoes

Caraway seeds

Dill weed


Smarties or M&Ms (for kids)

Mashed potato (makes softer bread)

Tomato ketchup



Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower kernals, sesame, pine nuts, soya pieces etc

Stuff with a large sausage or char sui etc


Crust variants:

 Dust the cloth lining with flour before putting in the bread

Brush with milk or cream

Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)



 Porridge oats


Poppy seeds

Sesame seeds



meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 16
The way I feed my starter is essentially the preparation a 'wet' biga. I always have between 100 - 200 gm  of each mother culture in the fridge. I take it out the night before baking to warm to room temperature. When I start to bake in the morning, I feed the culture in the crock 125 gm of flour, and 220 gm of water (volumetric measure is one cup of each). After an hour or so the culture has reached peak activity, and has nearly doubled in volume. I then remove 350 gms to use in the bread, and return whatever's left in the crock, while it's still working, to the fridge.

It is this method that has increased the flavor, aroma and leavening strength of my starters, as the starter cultures are now actually a sort of 'revolving account' biga, or pre-ferment -- a 'pain ferme' -- that continue to grow and marry in their crocks in the fridge. I have noticed over the last year that the leavening strength is *at least* as good as commercial (Fleischmann's) yeast. Although my two main cultures are completely different in llavor and aroma, they have both developed this  amazing leavening power. Rather than taking many hours to develop their distinctive aromas, from feeding at 8:00AM to formed loaves or rolls going into the oven is now about five hours, rather than the eight or more that was required when I first activated these dried starters almost three years ago.

I have not tried autolysing the remaining flour and water before mixing, and I wonder if that step is a 'necessary' one, or simply 'desirable'. With my recipes, there is only 120 gms of water left to mix with the remaining 500 gms of flour, and that would not autolyse very well, or very rapidly. I can see why you suggest making the biga with less hydration, because that frees up some of the water for the autolysis of the pre-mix. Perhaps the malt sugar enzymes would also help with that issue.

Basically I'm asking if autolysing the premix adds enough flavor or character to the loaf to make it worth while, timewise, or is it just a nice 'show-off' flourish for making an extra special bread?

meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 16
... for Annie in Bali

If you can find live gluten in a health food store, you can (partially) overcome the faults of highly processed white flour. One tablespoon of live gluten in a batch of bread will increase the protein content from 2% to 4%, making it the functional equivalent of bread flour, so far as dough elasticity goes. The dry milk powder and the egg add even more protein to the dough. Purists of the 'Yeast, flour, salt, water' variety will hold their noses, but I like my bread, and I'm the one who gets to eat it.

Kneading bread is a wonderful de-stressor, and is also good as a mild aerobic exercise. However, the method does not lend itself well to people with arthritis. The only reason I bought my bread machine a few years ago was to remove the part of the process that hurt my hands and wrists. I would have *PREFERRED*  a KitchenAid stand mixer with all it's assorted toys, paddles, hooks, and whisks, but as a retiree, I couldn't justify spending over $200 USD for a new toy. The bread machine, a Sunbeam, was $40.00 USD, and that particular deal offered free shipping.  Bingo! I was the proud owner of a new two pound capacity bread machine. I have to admit that I let it make one loaf, start to finish, in the machine, just to see how it worked, but what with the peculiar loaf shape and the big hole in the bottom where the paddle was pulled out convinced me that the dough cycle was the only one I needed. The bread itself was not bad, and at the supper table, my grandkids just ripped it apart, sourdough boule style, so the shape wasn't all that important as it turned out.

Again, good luck, and let us know how it worked for you.

rossnroller 2009 August 16

DeeDee, I wonder if you would mind clarifying your baeckerei broetchen recipe, you mention doing the scut work using either an upright mixer or a bread machine. I guess that means you haven't tried this recipe without using some form of mechanical mixer? If so, do you think hand-mixing is not an option in this case? I have no machines, and so far am really pleased with the sourdough breads I have managed to turn out - but I have seen some sourdough recipes that call for mechanical mixing in preference to doing it by hand. Can you advise please, is this one of these?  


Thanks for the tip re the "This Bakers Life" forum. Looks great on initial perusal. Added to my now lengthy but ever-growing list of sourdough bread bookmarks!


Thanks for contributing your white sourdough recipe. It's fascinating to encounter so many styles of making sourdough, probably all making subtle differences to the final outcome.

Cheers all!
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 16
I use a bread machine, (or if I had one, a stand mixer) because I am old, and I am totally disabled because of arthritis. For years I did it by hand, including mixing the ingredients before the kneading stage with a wooden spoon in one of those big, old-fashioned, almost conical (taller than the diameter) heavy ceramic bread bowls. I began to get the message when I couldn't even hold the bowl under my arm while I mixed the dough. The next clue was losing the strength in my hands and shoulders to work the wooden spoon. When it got to the point when I couldn't even manage the 'tri-fold and stretch' thing in lieu of vigorous kneading, I gave in and bought the bread machine.

It will work perfectly if hand-mixed and kneaded. You might want to, as 'jacklang' mentioned, even over-knead, so that you have a nice, fairly non-tacky, shiny, or glossy dough ball. That means 10 - 15 minutes, rather than 8 - 10.

Just to further confuse the issue, there are those who say that if all the ingredients are fully incorporated, that time and ongoing autolysis, combined with the normal fermentation is all that is needed for development of the gluten network in the doughball. I can't vouch for that idea, because I've never tried it. I started baking to feed my family and guests decent, REAL bread, waffles, pancakes, bicuits, and so forth, and when I found a general method that seemed to work well for me and that my family seemed to like, I didn't do much further experimentaton. (Actually they suck the stuff down like starving animals. My daughter says I'm spoiling her kids, and now they don't want to eat 'fake store bread' anymore.)

I am a strong advocate of the, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" philosophy, along with the time-honoured KISS principle, "Keep It Simple, Stupid!"

When I discovered the wonders of sourdough, I converted all my recipes to use it, and have never regretted the switch.

That is why I asked 'jacklang' if autolysing the pre-mix was all that important, or necessary. I don't want to experiment too much. The kidlettes would no doubt eat it anyway, but still, I'm reluctant.

jacklang 2009 August 16

The problem with refreshing your starter with a large amount of the old starter is that by-products and acidity will build up in the mother culture and eventually slow it down and give bad flavours. However if it works for you then continue. If you find your culture not performing try refreshing with much less mother culture - say a tbs (20g) to a cup of flour and water.


The pre mix step is not necessary, and I often don't pre-mix. Personally I've never noticed any difference with SD whether there is an autolysis step or not. The long fermentation and large volume (33%) of the sponge supplies all the enzyme needed. In SD the acid also breaks down the starch - you may notice doughs getting more liquid as they ferment as the starch is degraded.

 I used pre-mix because when using a stiff sponge it mixes better if the flour and water in the dough step is about the same consistency. There may be slightly better gluten development from the longer hydration, but its marginal. If you believe in mixing very cold (like Reinharts Ancienne method) its slightly easier.

meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 17
When I was very young in the wilds of North Central Ohio, and i was explaining something IMPORTANT to my mother, she would aften hear me out and then say, "Yes dear, thats just as clear as mud!"   B^)

meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 17
I think there must be cultural divide here. I never knew any other way to feed my culture. As an ex-engineering type though, I worry about cross-contamination, and NEVER have more than one culture open in the kitchen at one time. That includes the times when I dry a batch of one or the other.  I worked out a simple method to use when using other than wheat flour. When I planned to make rye bread, as a f'r instance, I used a much smaller dose (15 gm (1 TBS) or so of the mother culture, and then used whole grain rye flour and water in the starter intended to go into the rye bread, so that my original, mainline culture would not be affected. That kept my mainline culture clean. The down side was that new rye starter took much longer to activate, and increease in volume. Often as uch as 8 hours.

Similarly, If I used potato flakes, or another specialty flour, I inoculated the starch/water mixture, rather than mixing them together.

As a final safeguard, I have a cup and a half of each starter frozen, and I replace them every 6 months or so. The sealed plastic sandwich boxes that I store my dry starter in, hold an entire batch of each live, fed and active starter culture. I feel relatively safe with my sourdoughs 'backed up' in two different forms. The frozen cultures are each snapshots of the current state of the cultures, and if I notice off odors, or taste, it's a simple matter to 'restore' my cultures. Just thaw out a bucket, double feed it, and freeze half again. Back in business in fewer than eight hours.

About the premix, I'm pleased that I won't have to fret about 'not doing it right', and I thank you for your kind reply

jacklang 2009 August 17

I would not worry too much about cross contamnation of the culture.

The flour and water you use has its own bacteria and yeast, and the culture will adapt to your feeding regime and temperatures. I've tried many different cultures, and after a few refreshments I can't tell the difference.

Annie-Bali's picture
Annie-Bali 2009 August 20
Hi DeeDee, loved the UTube Kaiser roll clip, I found it very helpful so THANK YOU :)
Re read your recipe & ???????????? did you really mean 550g flour as when i made it up it was far too much flour & I had to add almost a cup of extra water to the mix. Maybe I should just use your 'cup' measures & not weigh the ingredients :)
However, that said, I used the machine, added milk powder & oil & it was a wonderful & tasty loaf. Sorry no pictures but, take my word, it was a success.
Annie-Bali's picture
Annie-Bali 2009 August 20
DeeDee, I too confess that i tried a 'start-finish' in the machine, just to see what it was like :) Like you, hated the shape, the hole where the paddle was & the size, but, it tasted OK. I bought mine at a yard sale for $10.00 AUS & shipped it with us to Bali as I had such success with using it in times of stress, just for the dough cycle ;)
Also, if we have a fly or ant infestation here, it is a nice stable place to let it do its 1st rise, then I tip it out & pop it in an oiled bowl in the fridge overnight. The last loaf I made using the dough cycle, i forgot about (went out!) & it was very over mixed BUT shiny & very glossy & firm to touch so just did nothing else but tip it into an oiled bowl & pop in fridge o/n. Next morning, I looked at it & decided if I did another knead, it would be ruined so just let it come back to room temp (27-8*c here in Bali), let it sit for 2 more hrs then baked. It was fine & I would not have been able to tell it only had 1 kneading (albeit in a machine)  if I had not made it myself.
I do love to experiment with all facets :)
Annie-Bali's picture
Annie-Bali 2009 August 20
Many thanks for your post Jack, I have saved it in my SD file :)
I recently wrote a 'bit' on sourdough surrogacy as I was a very happy recpient of some of TP's baby which has travelled from the UK, to Bali via KL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now that is what I was describing in my post, the generosity of 'bakers' of both spirit and of baby starters ;)
Many thanks from Bali
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 October 20

Annie, I posted a new version of the recipe on my website, with metricized ingredients, at It is the latest article.

... but to be brief, I feed the starter with 125 gm of flour, and 220 gm of warm water (one cup each for imperial measure. 

Then, using the happy, well fed starter after it has begun to bubble and is doubled in volume, I measure out 350 gms -- 1-1/2 cups -- into the bowl of the mixer or bread machine, then

110 gm additional warm water -- 4 oz, 1/2 cup

500 gms unbleached white bread flour -- 4 cups imperial -- (or same weight or volume of your Indonesian flour plus 1 TBS of active live gluten)

2 TBS of some sugar -- your choice -- I use mostly white, or Carnations's malt powder. Raw brown sugar, or even Demerarra would be heavenly!

1-1/2 tsp sea salt

I use a spritzer and pinches of flour to adjust consistency. I want it just a bit loose, but not wet, and the bread machine dough cycle, if you let it run for the entire 20 minute cycle, produces a beautifully glossy dough ball. I rarely let it sit in the machine for the first rise. With my Sunbeam, that is an additional one hour, and ten minutes. If you are cold-lagering your dough overnight in the fridge, those timings makes for a perfect loaf the next day.

The TBS of dry milk powder is optional, but helps as a dough conditioner. I have stopped using it lately. That's just more of my minimalist mood of late. If I make an Italian style bread I *do* add the TBS of milk powder and one egg to the above ingredients. 

Last, one of my girlfriends' brother is in Bali, Tim Schissler. Don't know where, he's secretive. However, he's a bit of a rounder, and likes the women *way* too much. There can't be that many reprobate Anglos hanging out in the bars and clubs or Bali, can there? 

DeeDee      B^)

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