Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Soda Bread

I have always loved sourdough bread but I had never attempted to bake it in my kitchen. In fact I did not even know that a sourdough starter was needed to make the bread. All I knew was that I wanted to try to bake sourdough bread.

Using my friend Google I started reading up on how the bread is made. The more I read the more confused I was. Then I happened upon the Sourdough Surprises website. A group that bakes sourdough bread every month based on a theme. And there on their website I found some pretty clear instructions on how to get started. This group inspired me to get my own sourdough starter so I decided to join them. All you need to join them is to bake the bread for the theme of the month and blog about it on the 20th.

On the 12th of this month I put a mixture of whole wheat flour and water in a plastic container in the hopes of getting an active sourdough starter. I needed the starter to bake soda bread - the theme of the month. Unfortunately, not everything worked according to plan.

The temperature plunged and the kitchen was pretty cold. But the mixture had a nice yeasty smell by day 4 and if I searched for them I could find a few bubbles. That kept me going. I fed the starter and hoped for the best.

I continued reading on sourdough starters. Now that I had one going it all made more sense. On day 6 I decided to reduce the amount of starter at least by half before I fed it. That would give the yeast a better chance of thriving.

By this time the starter looked and smelt a lot better. But I knew it was not ready for prime time. Here I got lucky. From what I read sourdough is not the leavening agent in soda bread (the theme of the month). It is more a flavoring agent. So I decided I would use my fledgling starter to flavor the soda bread. My biggest fear at this point was the yeast in the starter would somehow not be edible. Pushing that fear aside I baked this sourdough soda bread as my first entry to the Sourdough Surprises monthly challenge.

I gave my starter a more permanent home in a cute little jar. It will continue to live on the kitchen counter until it is active and bubbling but I hope to keep it refrigerated for a week at a time in the near future.

I only have the starter for a week and I can see how it demands center stage. I can understand how some folk are attached to their sourdough starters especially if they have had it a long time.

My goal is to use the homemade starter as the primary leavening agent to bake bread next month. The temperature is expected to be spring like so I am hoping that will help.

This recipe was adapted from the King Arthur website. It is a combination of two recipes.

You will need
3/4 cup sourdough starter
3 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl mix the sourdough starter, honey and butter together. Sift in the flours, baking soda, raisins, buttermilk and salt.

Combine to form a crumbly dough. If it is too dry use a little extra buttermilk. Divide the dough into two portions. Knead each portion a couple times and form a ball. Place it on a greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife score a star on the surface going all the way down on the sides.

Bake it for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


This is what the rest of the group did


  1. Welcome to the world of sourdough -- I hope your starter thrives and you can bake some delicious loaves with it!

  2. Welcome to the world of sourdough! And congrats on your new starter, I hope you have all kinds of fun with it! :) I am so honored that you joined us for your very first sourdough baking experience!! :) Your sourdough soda bread looks awesome!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments and for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful group.

  3. What an impressive adventure you undertook for this lovely soda bread loaf. Sourdough baking is tasty and rewarding and you found a fun group of bakers to join.

    1. Thanks SeattleDee. I am so glad I found your group.

  4. Welcome to the group and to sourdough baking! And a great first entry! I think a recipe that didn't need the starter for lift was perfect for you. I'll be back to see what else you make with it.

  5. Welcome to the world of sourdough, and to the group! I keep my starter in the fridge between weekly feedings and it does great, so I'm sure yours will too. Looking forward to seeing what you bake next month!

  6. Varada, I'm so happy that you've joined the sourdoughers! It's such fun :) Your bread looks beautiful :)

  7. Varada~ Welcome to Sourdough Surprises and the Wonderful World of Sourdough!! Your adventures have only just begun:) Your gonna love it~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  8. Hi Varada! We were wondering if you could please email us! We can't seem to find an email address for you!
    Thanks! Jenni and Shelley


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