The Timeless Art of Sourdough

I have a favorite 'Southern Living' cookbook that I've had for decades -- even before the internet was a "thing". The pages are dirty and well-loved, and the binding has seen better days. I don't recall the first year I made the sourdough bread recipe from this treasured book, but it became such a tradition (especially at the holidays to give away with the original apple butter!) that we had to purchase a freezer to hold all the loaves. I stopped making it for a long time but started again and have kept the starter going for over 6 months now. I often joke that it's like having a child in the refrigerator.

There's something incredibly nostalgic and satisfying about baking bread, especially when it comes to sourdough. And there is no better companion to this bread than Adams Apple Company's Original Apple Butter. Sourdough bread is more than just food; it’s a piece of history, a labor of love, and a testament to the enduring nature of home baking. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a beginner, I encourage you to try this recipe. Dive into the process, embrace the tradition, and enjoy the delicious rewards of your effort. Baking sourdough is a journey worth taking, and who knows, you might just create your own family legacy in the process.


Here is the recipe from my Southern Living cookbook: 

Sourdough Starter:

1 pkg. dry yeast

½ cup warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 cups warm water

Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a medium size non-metal bowl, and stir well. Gradually stir in 2 cups warm water.  Add yeast mixture, and mix well. 

Cover starter loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth; let stand in a warm place for 72 hours, stirring 2-3 times daily.  Place fermented mixture in refrigerator, and stir once a day.  Use within 11 days.

To use, remove sourdough starter from fridge; let stand at room temp for at least 1 hour.

Stir starter well, and measure amount of starter needed for recipe.  Replenish remaining starter with starter food and return to fridge; use starter within 2-14 days, stirring daily.

Starter Food:

½ cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Stir all ingredients into remaining starter.

Important! Never use a metal spoon to stir this!

Sourdough Country Crust Bread

2 pkgs. Dry yeast

1 ¼ cups warm water

1 cup sourdough starter (at room temp)

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

5 ½ - 6 cups unbleached (bread) flour

Veg. oil for the dough bowl

Butter for brushing on the baked loaves

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large nonmetal bowl; let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in Sourdough Starter, oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and 3 cups flour.  Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook for this.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes).  Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, 1-1 ½ hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down, and divide in half; place on a floured surface.  Roll each half into an 18 x 9-inch rectangle.  Tightly roll up dough, starting at narrow edge; pinch seam and ends together to seal.  Place loaves, seam side down, in two greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Brush tops with oil.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped.  Remove loaves from pans; brush with melted butter.  Yield:  2 loaves. (I do 3 medium size loaves instead of 2 large). They freeze well. A word of caution: Prepare to purchase a freezer.