15) Sourdough Sunday: The Thrice-Risen Loaf

Sourdough Sunday: I think that this could become a tradition. (Yes, it's Monday right now.  I ran out of time yesterday – so sue me!)


This week saw further experimentation with keeping a 'mini starter' and with making the bread completely in the bread machine.

Mini starters

A 'mini starter' is only about 2 tbsp of starter, so it takes up less space in the fridge, and you don't have to deal with all the waste involved in throwing out half your flour and water mixture that so many methods seem to use.  I got the idea from here, and then adapted.  Basically, I'm keeping back a tablespoon or two of the starter whenever I start baking, feeding it, and putting it straight in the fridge.  At this point, it's pretty active, but after feeding and putting in the cold, is happy to sit back and relax until next needed.

In advance of baking, I need to increase the size of the starter rapidly by repeated feedings until I have enough. This week, I took 24 hours to do so, as follows:

  • Thursday morning: fed my mini-starter 0.25 cups of flour and 0.25 cups water.
  • Thursday late afternoon: fed my starter 0.5 cups flour and 0.5 cups water.
  • Thursday late evening: fed my starter 0.5 cups flour and 0.5 cups water.

Clearly, this isn't a method that means you can bake immediately whenever you feel like it.  However, if you bake on a schedule, or too sporadically for the traditional starter management methods to be economical, this seems like a good alternative

The recipe

On Friday morning, I used my now very active starter to make the dough (not forgetting to keep back and feed my mini-starter for next time, of course!).  The dough recipe was:

  • 3 cups starter;
  • 4 cups flour;
  • 0.5 cups water;
  • 1.5 tsp salt;
  • 1.5 tsp sugar, I think.

I put the whole lot into the bread machine (liquids first in mine), started the dough cycle and once it was done, left it to rise all day.

At about 5pm on Friday evening, J rang me at work to say it was almost too well risen for the machine!!  I got him to knock it back using the dough cycle again, and to my surprise, it had fully re-risen again midnight!  I knocked it back a second time, and programmed the bread maker to finish baking our hyperactive loaf so it would be ready for us getting up at 7ish.


The Verdict

This is probably the best textured loaf I have ever made, whether in the machine or by hand; sourdough or yeast.  It was also very, very tasty and tangy, and took serious willpower for me not to eat it all at once.  I managed to hold back long enough to find out that it makes particularly tasty and crispy toast, too.

J didn't particularly like it – he says he prefers bread that doesn't really taste of anything (his words) – though he didn't dislike it, either.

I'll definitely use this method again; it's so easy!  I will try and tweak the timings so that it just gets to rise once and is then baked.  I'd like to see what effect that has on both the texture and the flavour.


  • The texture looks absolutely wonderful. It must have made a huge loaf though (considering the total amount of ingredients.) I’ve used less starter (and less flour) but maybe I should try more for a better rise (though we haven’t been unhappy with the texture I’ve been getting.) I have to add that baking soda though, ‘cuz Dan doesn’t like that tangy taste either.

    8th February 2010
  • That looks truly awesome. You’re almost tempting me to buy a bread maker!
    Keeping back a tiny bit of the active starter in the fridge is the method I use, FWIW.

    10th February 2010

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