Sourdough starters used for baking have been around since the cultivation of edible grasses began thousands of years ago. People have been creating healthful and delicious breads of an astounding variety for millennia. It was only after the advent of large-scale industrial baking that instant yeasts (with their quickness and ease of use) asserted themselves as the predominant method for baking.
I think you’ll find that once you start baking with a sourdough starter, sometimes also known as a mother or levain, the extra time and intention it requires will translate beautifully into baked goods with a much more complex flavor profile and nuanced taste.
Not to mention the nutritional benefits of making glutens easier to digest and assimilated into the body. And maybe most importantly, you’ll have the added gratification of knowing that you are participating in a tradition that has been carried down through many generations and in many different cultures.
Whether you’ve just recently started your own sourdough culture or have been generously gifted some from a long lineage of traditional bakers, you may be wondering just how to turn this bubbling bowl of potential into a perfectly risen baked delight.
Related Post: How To Make Sourdough
I know that when I started transitioning from instant yeast to a live culture several years ago, I tried to substitute the sourdough directly into the recipes that I knew and loved with very disappointing results; only somewhat edible with a chewy, flat, dense, or gooey constitution … or even a combination of all of these in a single loaf.
Fear not! There are now a lot of wonderful books and recipes out there that are catered directly to sourdough lovers like ourselves. Read on to discover some delicious sourdough recipes to try with your homemade (or gifted) starter.
Caraway Rye Artisan Sourdough Bread
To start, this is a basic but delicious no-knead style of loaf that is my go-to when I’m looking for complex flavor with a very straightforward approach. The addition of a little bit of instant yeast makes it easy and reliable for beginners!
- 360 grams of active sourdough starter (based on a high-hydration culture)
- 500 grams white bread flour (and a little more for dusting)
- 150 grams whole grain rye flour
- 150 grams whole wheat bread flour
- 550grams water (90-95 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 23 grams fine salt
- 2 grams or ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 big tablespoons caraway seed
*Ideally, use all organic ingredients
- Be sure your sourdough culture is fed and has had time to become active before proceeding. Expansion or bubbles are a good indicator.
- Mix all the flours well in a bowl or large tub. Add the warm water. Mix until everything is incorporated well. Cover and let rest (autolyze) for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and yeast. Add the 360 grams of starter. Using a bowl of warm water to wet your hand, mix by alternately squeezing the dough and folding over until everything is well incorporated. If the dough starts sticking to your hand, simply re-wet.
- Add the caraway seed. Mix thoroughly again.
- The dough will now be ready for its first rise. In the first hour or so, it is important to fold the dough over all four corners 2 to 3 times and then let rest again. It will be ready to divide once the dough has risen 2 to 3 times its size, or after 4 to 6 hours, depending on initial water and ambient temperatures.
- After the first rise, gently move the dough out of the tub (without degassing) onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and cut it in approximate halves.
- Dust two proofing baskets (or bowls or whatever you’ve got) with flour. Gently shape the loaves into fairly tight balls, again without losing too much gas. Place the balls into the baskets.
- Cover and refrigerate the loaves overnight or for at least 12 hours.
- Preheat two 4-quart cast-iron Dutch ovens for at least 30 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Five minutes prior to baking, remove the proofed dough balls from the refrigerator and turn out onto a floured surface. Let rest.
- Remove the lids of the Dutch ovens and gently place a loaf in each one. Be extremely careful not to touch the very hot cast iron with any part of your exposed body.
- Replace the lids and place back in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the lids on, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top of the loaf is a dark, rich brown.
Don’t be intimidated if you don’t get the perfect loaf the very first time you try this method! Just note where things may have gone awry and adjust for next time.
Emilia’s Everyday Sourdough
This is another great recipe for an artisan loaf that you can turn to as your standard daily bread. I always recommend using grams (weight measurements) instead of cups (volume) as you will get a more consistent product.
This pain naturel, as it is known in France, is described as a basic yet full-flavored sourdough bread.
Dark Rye Russian Sourdough Bread
Add a bit of Eastern European flair to your dinner table with this dark, flavorful winner!
Related Post: Bread Proofing
Working with rye can be a little stickier than with wheat, but the results are well worth it. The nutty, rich depth of flavor will be your reward. Great with soups and stews.
Sourdough Bagels Recipe
If you’re into bagels, you can make a big batch of these and freeze them for a morning when you want a dense, chewy vehicle for those preserves or jams you canned in the summer.
Sourdough English Muffins
English muffins are another great morning treat to put jam on … and the sourdough culture will actually give you a more airy result, reminiscent of the good ole Thomas brand. You can also omit the sugar and still have a wonderfully crusty and delicious muffin.
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Here’s a very basic recipe to add a whole lot more flavor to the oft-neglected but very important two-thirds of the equation.
All of your favorite taco, burrito, and enchilada fillings will be enhanced discernibly by the addition of these easy-to-make wrappers aka tortillas.
Sourdough Pizza Crust Recipe
All pizza should be done with a sourdough crust! The complexity and texture are like no other crust you’ve ever tasted. This is a good one in a pinch but if you happen to have a pizza stone, 9-inch cast iron, or (gasp) a wood-fired oven, you can crank up the heat a bit and add a little more crunch to that crust.
I usually use my cast-off extra starter the next morning to make these delicious flapjacks. Don’t think they aren’t just as good as the more common version. Add bananas and berries, and you can omit the sugar completely!
Sourdough Challah Bread
Perfect for Shabbat but really for any time you want to have as much fun making the bread as eating it. Makes a ridiculously beautiful loaf.
Basic Sourdough Muffins
Muffins are a great standby for breakfast or that potluck happening in a few hours that you forgot. Or really, whenever you have just too many blueberries to eat by hand.
Sourdough Crackers With Olive Oil & Herbs
Another great recipe to use that leftover starter you’d hate to throw away. Surprisingly quick and easy to make.
Perfect for sopping up chutney, this recipe is a much more healthful naan than the standard.
Sourdough French Bread
There is no replacement for a good loaf of French bread!
Sourdough Italian Bread
All those pastas, soups, and salads will benefit from a couple loaves of this bread to round out a meal. Nice to know we sourdough users can still make a loaf of good Italian bread.
Country Sourdough French Toast
Making a great French toast depends on having the right amount of airiness in the bread without sacrificing good texture. This one looks to have both.
Sourdough Discard Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
You really can make anything with leftover sourdough, and adding chocolate never hurts.
Sourdough Bialy With Rosemary
Delicious and adorable. Perfect for a snack.
Sourdough Bread Sticks
If popcorn isn’t your thing, this breadstick could be the best alternative for movie night. Just serve with some red sauce or olive oil or fresh melted cheese, and you’ll have some contented cinema geeks.
Sourdough Zucchini Nut Bread
Don’t think that just because it has sour in its name that sourdough can’t be used for delectable treats as well. This nut bread is a testament to sourdough sweets.
Beetroot Sourdough Bread
If you’re like me, by the end of summer you’ve just about worn out every possible option for preparing beets from salads to soups, to boiled and roasted. Here’s another great option with a unique aesthetic to boot.
Sourdough Hamburger Buns
It’s always fun to find new ways to add some excitement to the grilling standards, and it’s often the bun that needs the most help. These buns are a great way to let the bread be as much in the spotlight as the burger.