Lynn's Musings

From a Deep Well

Sourdough – The Yeast That Keeps on Growing

I spoke with my friend Joan about the everyday products that are hard to find at the grocery store these days. The last time I went shopping I expected there would be empty shelves in the paper aisle and there were. But no yeast? No flour? A couple cans of off-brand shortening? These are items I would never have figured would be in short supply.

A few weeks back, when the governor announced we were all to stay at home and the world turned upside down, I stocked up on everything including baking supplies and yeast. My plan was to stay home-stay safe for a month.

After two weeks I ran out of store-bought bread. That wasn’t a problem since I enjoy making my own. At the end of the fourth week and after baking four loaves of bread I was down to two packs of yeast. I was starting to wonder what to do when I remembered my mom’s container of sourdough starter. It was an integral part of the kitchen counter terrain and it gave her an ongoing source of yeast for baking bread, biscuits and coffeecakes.

I’d baked with sourdough years ago and recalled that a packet of yeast, some flour, water and sugar were all that were needed to get a batch going. I looked through an old Amish cookbook and found the starter recipe, listing the amounts of each ingredient. It also had the instructions for feeding the starter every 7 to 10 days, which is important to keep it going indefinitely. And the starter has to be used or shared regularly or you will end up with a LOT of starter. I planned on baking at least once a week, probably more, so keeping up with the growing yeast wouldn’t be a problem.

Here is the recipe for the sourdough starter I found and some delicious recipes from King Arthur Flour to try:

1 package of dry yeast
2 ½ cups warm water
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar or honey

Directions: In a large glass or ceramic bowl, sprinkle yeast over ½ cup of warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining water and stir until yeast is dissolved. Gently whisk in the flour and sugar. Cover loosely – cheesecloth works good for this – and let sit on the counter top, at room temperature for 5 or more days, until bubbly and ready to use. Gently stir the mixture twice each day. At this time the starter can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. If 10 or more days pass without using the starter, feed the starter by adding a teaspoon of sugar. Once some of the starter has been used, feed the starter by stirring in ¾ cup of flour, ¾ cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Leave at room temperature for another 5 days (or until mixture is bubbly again) stirring twice a day.


1 cup sourdough starter
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
5 cups flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons salt

Directions: The afternoon before baking the bread – Combine starter, water and 3 cups of flour in a large bowl. Beat for 1 minute. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours. Refrigerate overnight for about 12 hours. Add remaining 2 cups of flour, sugar and salt. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, sprinkling with additional flour as necessary until smooth. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 5 hours, until dough is light and airy. Gently divide dough in half. Shape into two ovals, place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until very puffy, 2 to 4 hours. When ready to bake, lightly spray loaves with warm water. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make four diagonal crisscrossing slashes in both loaves. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when lightly rapped. Remove from oven and let cool. Note: Making sourdough bread is not an exact science. Be flexible. Rising times will vary depending on room temperature and vitality of the sourdough starter.


Overnight Sponge:
2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sourdough starter

All of the overnight sponge
2 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons melted butter
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions: To make overnight sponge, stir down your refrigerated starter and remove 1 cup. Mix with flour, sugar and buttermilk in a large bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours overnight. The next morning, beat eggs and oil in a small bowl. Add to overnight sponge. Add salt and baking soda, stir to combine. For pancakes – Pour a little oil into a skillet and heat. Use about ¼ cup of batter per pancake. Cook until edges of pancakes are bubbly and starting to dry. Turn once and brown the other side. For waffles – Pour batter onto a preheated, greased waffle iron and bake according to manufactures instructions.


2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ c butter, melted

½ cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup milk at room temperature
Confectioner’ sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×9 inch baking pan. Topping – In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add vanilla and almond to melted butter and pour into flour mixture. Stir until uniformly moist. Set aside. Cake – Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add eggs, vanilla and sourdough starter. Mix until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, potato flakes, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add to the egg-starter mixture. Stir until combined. Add milk and mix until smooth. Spread batter in baking pan. Sprinkle topping over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until edges just start to pull away from pan. A knife inserted in the center will come out clean when cake is done. Cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Copyright May 2, 2020

All rights reserved.  No part of this blog, including written text and all images, may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Author.


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