Not Your Grandmothers Sourdough Bread

(picture note-when you have a sourdough starter, you can’t abandon it. It’s like a pet, a very big commitment and responsibility. So when you leave on a long family vacation you need to have someone feed it while you’re away or bring it along with you and improvise. This is my happy loaf on the dash of my car during its second rise as I pulled into Wrightsville Beach. See, it got to go on vacation too!)

I’ve been making my own sourdough bread for almost 3 years now. When I was pregnant with my son, my husband’s grandmother gave me a cup of her potato starter that she’s been using for way more than 2 years. She makes 3 loaves of bread every week, sometimes more than that, and gives most of it away to family and friends of her church. But I also like to think that her freezer is stocked, top to bottom, with nothing else but small, fluffy, white bread loaves wrapped in blue zip bags because she simply cannot stop making the stuff. 

When you’re lucky enough to receive a loaf from Ga Ga (pronounced Geh Geh, not Gah Gah, like the performer…although every person in my family just laughed out loud right now while we all just pictured Ga Ga on stage in a leotard, singing “Poker Face”), she gives it to you, blue zip bag and all, and says, “Now honey, this needs to go in the refrigerator because there are no preservatives in this bread.” And she pats you on the shoulder as she saunters away. Her bread is delicious. It’s almost like pound cake. Her recipe is like most other sourdough recipes out there but for some reason I’ve never tasted another like it. So when I set out to make my own, I decided it would be best to make mine as different as I possibly could from hers. She’s a kind, tiny, old woman but I fear what she would do to me if for some reason someone out there thought my bread was better than hers. 

So I make Whole Wheat Sourdough bread and have changed the ingredient quantities so that I’m only making 1 loaf a week, instead of 3, (I don’t belong to a church and my freezer has far too many chicken breasts and steaks in it to store loaves of bread). My son and I eat a piece of it every single morning for breakfast and we have done so ever since he was about 9 months old. We eat it plain and at room temperature (no need for the refrigerator because it never lasts too long in my kitchen). (Side note-I can’t believe I ever stopped eating bread back in college…what was I thinking? Carbs are awesome.)

So anywho…If any of you out there want to start making your own sourdough bread and you’re a neighbor, give me a holler and I’d be happy to share some of my starter with you, just like Ga Ga did with me. And we can keep this carb chain going long and strong. Or if you already have one of your own, here’s my recipe for 1 loaf of bread. The result is much more intensely flavored because there is still 1 cup of starter used, but it only goes into 1 loaf, verses being stretched out into 3 loaves as the original recipe suggests.

(recipe note-
I buy gluten and add it separately to all purpose white flour because it’s much cheaper than having to buy bread flour for only this use. But feel free to use 1 1/2 cups bread flour in place of the white flour and gluten.)

*Abbey’s Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe
In a large glass or ceramic bowl combine…
-1 1/2 cups of white, all purpose flour

-1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 tsp of vital wheat gluten
-1 tsp. of kosher salt
-1/8 cup of sugar
-1/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil
-1 cup of potato starter (just fed at room temp. 12 hours prior to bread making)

Mix everything with a wooden spoon until all is combined and spray the bottom and sides of the bowl with cooking spray, then with the dough inside, spray the top of the dough itself with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm place* for about 2 hours until it almost doubles in size.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead with flour until it is no longer sticky and can be shaped into a smooth ball. Place smooth dough ball in a greased loaf pan and spray the top again with cooking spray. Place, uncovered now, back in that warm place and allow to rise again until the top of the loaf rises to your desired height. This can take all morning and afternoon if you make the dough first thing.
Bake loaf at 325* for 28** minutes and allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes at room temp. Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on a rack before placing in an airtight container, preferably the blue zip bags like Ga Ga likes 🙂
(*I preheat my oven to a low setting, then turn the oven off halfway through the preheating and turn my oven light on. This keeps the oven environment at the perfect rising temperature in my kitchen.)
(**this is the exact temp and time that works for me, but yours may vary)

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  • Reply Tinky June 12, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Oh, Abbey, I wish you were my literal neighbor instead of just an internet one! If you ever come to Massachusetts (or even northern Virginia), please let me know. And I'll let you know if I'm coming donw your way. I'd LOVE to try this bread. AND your grandmother's!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne September 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I would be happy to send you some, Tinky!

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