Replacing Yeast With Sourdough Starter and My Sourdough Bread Recipe

Happy, active sourdough starter.

This is going to be a short post today about converting a bread recipe that calls for active dry yeast into a recipe using sourdough starter instead. Yes, you really can do that.

If you are using the starter instructions that I gave you, then about 1 cup of starter equals 1 Tablespoon (or 1 packet) of active dry yeast. Also, it has roughly 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water so you need to remember to compensate for that when you are adding water and flour to your recipe.

If you find that your bread does not rise quickly enough, then you will need to use more starter the next time. If you find that it rises too quickly then you will need to use less. Makes sense, yes?

Here’s the part that will cramp your brain. If you want a stronger sourdough flavor, use less starter. If you want a more mild flavor, use more starter. Hang on a second before your brain short-circuits over this. Remember: A slow rise develops more flavor in the bread. A fast rise develops less flavor in the bread.

If you were at my last bread-making class and tried the “experimental loaf, I will now confess something to you. I personally considered that loaf to be a massive fail because I rushed everything about it. Still, it was edible and that was mainly the point that I wanted to make with it – You can have a bread “disaster” and if it’s eaten warm, almost no one else will notice it.

Here is my recipe for one loaf of sourdough bread (easy to mix if you have to do it by hand):

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread – 1 loaf  (this works fine with white flour also)

3/4 cup room temp or warm water

1 cup sourdough starter

Mix well, then add:

1/2 Tablespoon salt (1 ½ tsp)

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

Mix/knead in:

2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour, ½ cup at a time.

After adding 2 3/4 cups of flour, let the dough stand for 10 minutes.

This allows the gluten time to develop.

Knead one more time, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of flour if needed.

Cover and let rise for 30 minutes to an hour or until about doubled in volume. (depending on how warm your kitchen is)

Punch down dough and knead a little. Shape into loaf.

Place in greased loaf pan, cover with a damp cloth, let rise till nearly doubled.

Bake at 350° for 40 to 60 minutes.

Remove from pan immediately. Let cool at least 20 minutes for best texture and slicing.

If you want a stronger sourdough flavor in this bread, use 1/3 cup of starter and 1 cup water. Then let the bread dough rise as long as overnight before you shape the loaves, and your bread will have a great sourdough flavor.

I didn’t make bread today, so not much in the way of photos this time, I may come back and add some later but don’t hold your breath (I am, after all, in the middle of packing for an international move. Listing everything you own in lists for Customs is the pits.)

winner-winner, chicken dinner 🙂

P.S. If you try this, let me know how it works for you!

9 comments

    • The equivalents of a packet of yeast have changed over time. You are correct, it is currently 2 1/4 teaspoons in a packet. It used to be a tablespoon. I have found that the difference in practical application is pretty immaterial.

    • When make it with the plan for an overnight rise, I add all the ingredients, but use even less starter – as little as 2 Tbs – to slow the rise. In the morning add additional flour as needed to finish the dough.

      • I shall try the overnight rise . In the morning knead , proof till doubled ; then punch down , knead lightly and shape for final proofing and baking . Waiting to try this during the next few days .
        Thank you !

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