Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Sourdough Method is Different - It's Not A Wet Process

My style of making sourdough is different than what some might think of when they envision a loaf of sourdough. I would love to make sourdough the wet method way but it requires space in the fridge and frankly that is something we just do not have right now so instead I do it the dense loaf method. For me it works.

If you want the large holes throughout your loaves then you will need to go that route. My starters will work just fine for either method because many of my customers are doing just that. 

Wasatch Willy's Sourdough - A Fresh Loaf

The only thing missing is the most wonderful sourdough smell. But for that you can order your own starter and try it for yourself. I suggest ordering my Wasatch Willy's Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter and Best Darn Old Alaskan Sourdough Starter. It is only $5 for the two in the USA or $5.70 in Canada. When you order you get recipes and activation instructions. 

When making bread with my sourdough starters do not use bread flour. Use unbleached all purpose white flour only. You can also use wheat flour as well. Keep in mind wheat flour intensifies the sourness of the bread and you may want to shorten the fermentation period of the dough. White flour fermentation is normally about 12 hours between 65-70 degrees F.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A New Easy Sourdough Hamburger Bun Recipe

Tomorrow we decided to have hamburgers for dinner and I decided to try a different recipe this time. I saw one recently posted online at Mother Earth News and this recipe is the inspiration.

You will get about 24-4" hamburger buns from this recipe.


  • 4 Cups Wasatch Willys Sourdough Starter fully active and stirred down before measuring
  • 1 Cube butter
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs, Beaten
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 7-8 Cups All Purpose Flour

Sourdough Hamburger Buns

In your mixer bowl combine the starter, softened butter, milk, beaten eggs, salt and sugar. Blend with your whisk attachment until smooth - like pancake batter. Replace the whisk with your dough hook and start to add the flour until the dough bunches up nicely and moves around the bowl. Run the mixer for about ten minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixer and let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes. 

Grease and sprinkle two baking sheets with corn meal.

Briefly turn on your oven for about 30 seconds at 350 and turn on the light. Turn off the oven but leave the light on. Boil a small pot of water.

Divide the dough in half. Using a rolling pin flatten the first half of it out to about 1/2" thickness and cut out with a 4" circle cutter. Place the cut out dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Repeat for the second half.

Place the baking sheets and the small pot of boiling water into the slightly warmed oven for about two hours to proof the buns.

After two hours remove the baking sheets and the pan of water. Turn on the oven to 375F and bake for about 18 minutes. Having a baking stone will help to brown the bottoms of the buns. I found my buns came out brown on top but pale on the bottom. 

If you so choose you can prepare a watered down egg wash before baking and sprink.e the buns with sesame seeds.

I used the egg wash on both batches of my buns. One was with seeds and one was plain.

For more info on my Sourdough Starters
click the More Info Here button above or click here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Making Sourdough Bread Is Not Rocket Science

I started this blog in early 2012 and I regularly post articles praising the ease of baking with sourdough. I am constantly giving loaves of bread to my friends and almost always they remark, “Oh wow! That takes a long time to make, right?” and I invariably reply, “No, not really.” So what I am saying is do not be intimidated. The actual time you spend making sourdough itself is not that much because the majority of the time is spent by the fermentation process.

Sourdough can be intimidating until you get to know it. It’s a mind game really. There’s the feeding of the Starter, the initial making of the dough, the fermentation process that can take twelve or more hours and then the rise time. 

If you have a recipe that calls for yeast you should run away from it as fast as you can. Sourdough, if the starter is a good one, does not need added yeast. The flavor of the sourdough comes from the fermentation process and adding yeast robs it of that process, hence robbing it of the flavor as well.

Sourdough bread is really a simple recipe. Essentially it consists of the starter, quality water, salt and flour. That’s it.   I bake my bread in round loaves because they are the easiest for me to form and they fit in the oven better and I bake them on travertine tiles cut to fit on my oven rack. Not having a pizza peel I use a large steel spatula and place my loaves on aluminum foil coated in cooking spray and dusted with corn meal.

Here is my recipe. I usually make it in my Bosch mixer rather than by hand these days but when I was younger I would not shy from from doing it by hand.

Sourdough Bread Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Wasatch Willys Sourdough Starter Fed and bubbly
  • 3 Cups Spring Water room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8-9 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
In your mixer bowl combine the active and bubbly starter, bottled spring water and salt. Mix until blended using the dough hook. Add the flour until the dough no longer clings to the sides of the bowl and springs back to the touch. Run the mixer for another ten minutes. 

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a cool spot for at least twelve hours. I use my basement. In the summertime my basement is about 70 degrees and twelve hours seems to work perfectly but in the winter it’s closer to 60 and sixteen to eighteen hours is the average fermentation time.

Once the dough has fully risen to the top of the bowl and the fermentation time is up, remove it from the bowl and divide it into loaves. I use a digital scale to measure the dough into four equal parts. 

Form the dough into a ball and flatten it on your prepared surface. Then start grabbing the edges and pull it to the center forming a ball until the skin is nice and tight. Be careful not to pull too much or the skin of the dough will start to rip. Place the ball gathered side down onto a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Allow enough space for the loaves to raise but not touch each other. 

Score them with a sharp knife or lame in a cross pattern and cover with a damp cloth on top of the stove.

Now place your oven racks on the bottom two slots. If you have a small cast iron frying pan place this on the bottom rack. Set your oven to 475. If you have travertine tiles in the oven I suggest rather than using a baking sheet, cut aluminum foil into squares and use that instead. That way you can place the loaves directly onto the tiles and your bread will bake more evenly with a nice browning on the bottom.

If your kitchen is warm, it should only take an hour and a half for the bread to raise enough to pop in the oven. Before you do, however, boil two cups of water first. 

Place the loaves in the oven. Wearing an oven mitt, pour the boiling water into the pan on the bottom rack and slide it to the middle of the oven with a spatula. Close the oven door.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Bake about 60 minutes. I have found my bread comes out perfectly with a nice thick reddish crust. I do not bother with either an egg or corn starch wash because I like my crust natural and crunchy.

Place the loaves on a cooling rack and allow at least twenty minutes to cool before slicing into them. 

Of the starters I sell on my blog, my favorites are my Wasatch Willy’s and the Best Darn Old Alaskan. Both are unique and I really enjoy the flavor they provide. 

Variation: One of the variations I like to do is add Kale to the Best Darn Old Alaskan. I go out to the garden and grab a handful and put it in the blender with the starter and some of the water until liquefied and then proceed with my standard bread recipe. The starter feeds off the Kale and gives it a Turbo Boost making it very flavorful with a green tinge.

My Starter

Baking on Travertine

A Lovely Loaf

Look At That Slice!

The Kale Option

Kale Blended

Kale Added

Kale Sourdough Bread Dough

For more info on my Sourdough Starters
click the More Info Here button above or click here.