How to Bake Sourdough Bread with a Bread Machine

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You can save money and make delicious homemade bread using a sourdough starter instead of packaged yeast. Mixing the dough in your bread machine makes the whole process a breeze!

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter (see Resources)
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour (white, whole wheat, rye - whatever suits your fancy)
  • 2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • oil or cornmeal for pan
  • bread machine
  • bowl, spoon, measuring cups and spoons
  • The night before -
    Pour your sourdough starter into a bowl. Mix in 1 cup of water, then mix in 1 cup of flour (white or whole wheat).

    Cover this with a clean kitchen towel and leave it on the counter overnight.
    (tip: my sourdough starter usually has a consistency around that of thick pancake batter. You can add more or less water to change the consistency.)

  • In The Morning -
    Your sourdough starter should be all nice and bubbly. Give it a good stir.

  • Make sure the paddle is installed in the pan of your bread machine.
    Pour in:
    1 cup sourdough starter
    3/4 cup lukewarm water
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
    3 cups flour

    Note: Feel free to be creative with the flours you use. While I usually use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour, I've made wonderful loaves with all whole wheat, all white, half rye etc.

  • Set the pan into your bread machine and set it to it's Basic Dough Cycle. Let it mix.

  • Once the ingredients are good and mixed up - but while the machine is still mixing - check the dough. It should be elastic and a bit sticky. Not too dry. Not too wet. Pinch out a small piece and feel it with your fingers.
    If the dough is too dry, add a Tablespoon of water and check it again in a few minutes.
    If the dough is too wet, add a Tablespoon of flour and check it again in a few minutes.

  • Let the dough rise in the bread machine long after the machine's cycle has completed. Sourdough takes longer than packaged yeast.

  • Around Lunch Time -
    Dust the bottom of a bread pan with cornmeal or (especially if it's very sticky dough) oil the pan. Dump the dough out in the pan and remove the bread machine's paddle.

  • Stick your fist in some flour (so it won't stick to the dough) and pound the dough down in the pan.

  • Spray some plastic wrap with oil and loosely cover the pan. Set the dough to rise in a warm place. A gas oven is perfect.

  • Around Dinner Time -
    The dough should have doubled in bulk by now. Take the pan out of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap! Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes.

  • Check that the bread is done by thumping on the top of it with your finger. It should sound hollow. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes before slicing.

    Enjoy!

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not attempt to let your bread bake in the bread machine. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than packaged yeast. The result will not be pretty.
  • If you don't have a gas oven - you can let the dough rise in your electric oven. Just warm the oven up for a few minutes, then turn the heat off. You should be able to press your hand to the inside of the oven. If you can't the oven is too hot.
  • The vital wheat gluten is optional - but it helps make the dough more elastic, and therefore it rises better.
  • At least half of the flour you use should be wheat flour (white or whole wheat) If you are using non-wheat flour the vital wheat gluten is especially helpful.
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