First Sourdough Bread

basic sourdough bread, in a ½ steam table pan…

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 8, 2011.

I thought I’d just make a basic loaf of white bread with sourdough starter, and see how that works out. I also found a one-half-size steam-table pan (aka “Hotel Pan”), 12x10x4-inches, and thought I’d try mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking in that. I’d rather use a clay baker, but all that are large enough for bread are too high for my little oven, which has only five inches of vertical clearance above the rack.

Using the steam-table pan was an idea that didn’t work very well—the bread severely stuck to it, and the final shape looked more like skillet bread. But the bread turned out fine anyway.

There is more to making sourdough bread than just leavening it with a sourdough starter. Sourdough rises much more slowly, and it also takes time for the bacteria to work and “sour” the whole batch. In effect, you are just multiplying your starter, but this process takes so much time that the gluten will go slack and make a dough that will tend to be very tender and collapse easily. Handle the risen sourdough carefully, and pop it into a really hot oven (or better, preheated clay bakeware) to take advantage of maximum oven spring. But don’t despair—perfect sourdough just requires more experience than rapid-rise bread. Once you master sourdough, you’ll really know dough!


© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 8, 2011.


3  cups bread flour
1¼ cups warm water
½  cup  sourdough starter
1  tsp  celery salt
1  tsp  oregano
1  Tbs  olive oil

Mix dry ingredients and oil with flour. Mix sourdough with water.
Mix all. Add flour, if needed, to reach desired dough consistency.
Knead for 5 minutes. Form into a ball and place in a sprayed oven pan.
Cover with plastic and let rise 12 hours.
Cover with lid or foil and bake at 475°F for 40 minutes.
Uncover and bake 10 minutes more, or until desired crust color.


© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 8, 2011.

A 10 by 12 inch rectangular stainless steel pan.
Why mess up the counter-top? Mix, knead, rise, and bake in a big square pan. These pans are about $18 at a restaurant supply. I’ve had this Vollrath for about 40 years.

Weighing flour into pan.
Might as well just weigh everything into the pan. 375 grams of B4B…

Weighing water in cup.
275 grams of luke-warm water—in a cup, because I’m gonna…

Adding sourdough to water in cup.
mix up a half-cup of sourdough starter in it.

Adding salt to flour.
Put some salt…

Adding oregano to flour.
and oregano…

Adding olive oil to flour.
and olive oil in the flour and mix it around.

Pouring water and starter mixture into flour.
Dump in the water/starter…

Mixing with a long wood spoon.
and mix it around.

Sticky, gooey dough.
Oops, it’s gonna need some more flour…

Drier dough, formed into a ball.
There—that’s more like it. I then kneaded it for a few minutes.

Cleaned, oiled pan with dough ball covering about one-half of the bottom.
Then washed the pan, sprayed with OO, and dropped the dough in it and covered with cling wrap.

Weighing 60 grams of flour.
Don’t forget to weigh some flour…

Weighing 60 grams of water.
and the same weight of water, and recharge the sourdough starter.

Thermometer in oven door, showing about 95 degrees F.
Put the dough in the oven, with pilot only, to rise at about 95°F.

Pan with bubbly dough, which covers the entire bottom of pan.
After 4 hours at 95, I took it out and let it rise another 8 hours at about 75. Those green spots are oregano, not mold!

Baked bread in pan with light top crust.
Covered with foil and baked for 40 minutes at 475°F.

Baked bread in pan with golden top crust.
Removed foil and baked for another 10 minutes, for a total of 50. But there’s one little problem: it’s severely stuck!

Pan with bread removed, and bottom of bread.
Whacking it down hard on a towel on the table didn’t get it loose, until I dug around and under it with a fork. At least it all came out in one piece. Next time, I’ll spray the pan with OO, then flour it!

A slice from the middle, laying across the bread, showing close-up of crispy crust and coarse crumb.
Despite the flat shape, the crust is thin and crispy, and the crumb is coarse and soft. The taste is good, with a moderate vinegar bite that seems balanced with the bread flavor.

Soup in a large bowl, with vegetables arranged into a funny face, with two breads as rabbit ears.


  1. A long, slow proofing (overnight) makes the crumb nice and coarse. Probably increased the sour, too.
  2. A ½ steam table pan is way too big (12x10 inches), unless you’re gonna make a giant 4 pound bread.
  3. Pan spray doesn’t keep it from sticking. Oil and flour the pan well.
  4. My oven is very uneven. Remember to turn the pan 3-4 times.
  5. I need to order some proper bake-ware. Am looking at a couple of 12 Inch Nonstick Bread Pans.

So there you have it! My first sourdough. Please stay tuned for more bread baking adventures in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by! —kv5r

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