3 Simple Sourdough Recipes

Once you get an active starter going, you can create all manner of sourdough recipes.

October 25, 2016
sourdough bread
Daria Saveleva/Shutterstock

A sourdough starter is a great addition to your kitchen, as it's a healthy source of gut-friendly bacteria that allows you to make breads that are far tastier—and much more nutritious—than anything that comes in a plastic bag. Here's how to start your own sourdough; it takes about a week to get a good sourdough starter going, but once you have one that's active and bubbling, you can use it for all sorts of baked goods. Here are my three favorites.

(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)

sourdough bread
No-Knead Sourdough Bread

The real deal. Chewy, tangy, and fragrant with a good crust and plenty of tiny nooks and crannies inside. About a day and a half to two days before you want to bake your loaf, you need to shift your starter into high gear so that the bread rises. Measure ½ cup of starter into a large glass or stainless steel bowl, and feed it by whisking in ¼ cup of flour and three tablespoons of warm water. Cover it with a clean cloth, and set it in a warm place for 6 to 12 hours. Feed it again (same amounts of flour and water), and set it aside again for 6 to 12 hours. You should now have about a cup of happily bubbling, rarin'-to-go starter.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

1 cup actively bubbling starter
¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups flour (if you use whole grain, sift it twice before measuring it to take out the coarsest bits of bran—you can save those to sprinkle on the loaf before baking)
1 teaspoon olive oil or butter, plus extra for brushing
1 tablespoon cornmeal

1. Combine the starter, water, and salt in a large bowl, and stir in about one cup of flour. Continue to add small amounts of flour until you can just barely stir the dough and it holds together in a soft ball. It will be very moist, much softer and stickier than dough you'd knead. This texture is critical to getting a good rise, so stop adding flour as soon as you have a soft ball, even if you haven't used all the flour you measured out.

2. Grease a clean bowl with the butter or olive oil. Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and tuck/stretch the rough edges, tucking them underneath to make a smooth oval. This should take just two or three quick moves, as your aim is to touch the dough as little as possible.

3. Place the oval seam-side down in the greased bowl. Brush or spray the surface with more olive oil. Cover the bowl with a moist towel and set it on your countertop at room temperature to rise for roughly 8 to 12 hours; it should double in size. Dough rises more slowly in a cool room and faster in a warm room. Rising time also depends on how active your starter is; once you've baked with yours a few times you'll have a better idea of what to expect. Once the dough has doubled in size, you are ready to bake.

4. Place a pizza stone on the center shelf of your oven. If you don't have a stone, a large cast-iron griddle or oven-safe cast-iron skillet will do. Also place a metal—not glass—baking pan on the bottom shelf (you'll be putting hot water in it later). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees for at least ½ hour.

5. Uncover your loaf. Sprinkle a pizza peel or other flat, portable surface such as a cutting board or an edgeless cookie sheet with cornmeal, and carefully slide your risen dough onto it, again stretching and tucking under any parts that stick to your hands or the board. Use a very sharp knife to cut ¼-inch-deep slits across the top of the loaf. Make sure the loaf slides easily onto its bed of cornmeal. Add more cornmeal as needed. Pour one cup of hot water into a cup with a spout (I actually use a small watering can) and keep it close to your oven.

6. Open the oven and pull out the shelf with the hot stone or skillet on it, and quickly slide the peel or pan out from underneath your dough onto the hot surface. Then pour your water into the empty pan in the bottom of the oven—watch the steam—and close the oven door immediately. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on it. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Enjoy!

Related: What's The Healthiest Bread For Your Sandwich?

sourdough pizza
Ievgeniia Maslovska/Shutterstock
Sourdough Pizza Crust

This crust is quick and easy and rivals any pizza crust you've ever tasted! If you want to try out your starter, this is a fast place to start.

½ cup sourdough starter
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (more or less) whole-grain flour
1 to 2 tablespoons cornmeal

1. Place a pizza stone on the center shelf of your oven. If you don't have a stone, a large cast-iron griddle or oven-safe cast-iron skillet will do. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough. Combine the starter, one teaspoon of oil, salt, and most of the flour in a mixing bowl. Continue adding small amounts of flour and kneading it in until you have a ball of soft dough you can pick up.

2. Sprinkle a pizza peel or other flat, portable surface such as a cutting board or an edgeless cookie sheet with cornmeal, and place your dough on it. Roll your dough into a circle, adding cornmeal as needed so the crust slides freely and doesn't stick when you shake the peel back and forth. Brush or spray the top surface of your dough with olive oil. Set your dough aside while you get your toppings chopped and measured. Heat your sauce and cook your toppings (if needed) to help everything get good and bubbly in the oven.

3. Make sure the crust is still sliding easily on its bed of cornmeal. Working quickly, open the oven door and pull out the shelf with the hot stone or skillet on it, and quickly slide your crust onto it so it falls neatly. Shut the oven door as fast as you can. Bake for seven minutes. Remove your crust from the oven and dress it, as desired, with sauce and toppings. Or if you want plain pizza bread, aka foccacia, top it with a drizzle of extra olive oil and perhaps a sprinkling of herbs and shredded cheese. Put your pizza back in the oven, and bake for another five to seven minutes until the toppings are bubbly and the crust is a golden brown. Enjoy!

Related: 5 Simple Meals You Can Make In A Cast-Iron Skillet

sourdough crackers
Sourdough Crackers

Crackers are quick and easy and are a great way to use up the starter you have to pour off during the feeding process. 

1 cup sourdough starter
⅓ cup melted butter, lard, bacon fat, or olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (more or less) flour; I like a coarsely ground organic whole wheat
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 to 2 tablespoons dried herbs or seeds (optional; black pepper, rosemary, caraway, minced onion are good)

1. Combine starter, butter or other fat, and salt, along with any optional herbs or seeds you are using, in a bowl. Add ½ cup flour and stir well. Continue adding small amounts of flour and stirring or kneading it in until the dough is a firm ball and you can squeeze a small bit flat between your fingers without it crumbling apart. Form the dough into four roughly equal balls. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place a silicone baking sheet or a sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Put two balls of dough on it and roll the dough into one large, rectangular sheet, making it as thin and even as possible. As needed, dust the top surface with a little flour to prevent it from sticking to your hands or rolling pin. Sprinkle with coarse salt and roll it gently into the surface of the dough. Take a knife and, using a pressing motion, score the dough into smaller cracker shapes, then use a fork to poke holes all over to prevent big air pockets. Slide your baking or parchment sheet onto a cookie pan. Repeat for the rest of the dough.

3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crackers start to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven, then flip the liner or paper upside down over a cooling rack and peel it away from the crackers. If the edges are done and the center section isn't, break away the edges and return the center section to the oven for a few more minutes. When cool, snap the crackers apart along the scores and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage.