Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Artisan Breads Every Day - Sourdough Bread

Still enjoying the flavors of working through Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.

Pain au Levain - sourdough or naturally leavened bread

I've had a desire to make sourdough bread for several years. The goal was renewed while reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books with the children. In "The Long Winter", Ma took wheat and turned it into edible bread that sustained the family's life for months when there was no other food available.

I think that I can make a good bread - but take away my commercial yeast and whatever other ingredients I choose to add and I'd be rather helpless. If I was ever put into Ma's shoes with wheat, and wheat alone, to feed my family, I would fail completely. While I hope to never face such a test, I have made conquering sourdough one of my goals.
First I needed a sourdough starter. I had high goals of a sourdough starter with no commercial yeast and no sugar. I actually made several attempts in the last few years with no success.

Peter's directions for a sourdough starter were different then most others that I've seen and his was the first that actually worked for me! When I made my first loaf of Pain au Levain, by the "purist" directions containing no commercial yeast, I felt I was watching a miracle! This bread contains flour, water, and salt. That is it! And it was delicious! I just couldn't believe it could puff up and raise with the strength of the wild yeast alone!

I do think I could have baked it a little longer, which gives me something to try next time. I followed the directions exactly and made no variations (can you believe it, I couldn't!)

This bread was mostly white flour and my next goal is a whole wheat sourdough bread.


  1. Hi Gina,
    Looks so yummy.
    Have a blessed day.

  2. I'm a bread baker too.. Not on a daily basis. Could I have your recipe for the starter and bread? I buy Pepperidge Farms Farm Style Sour Dough Bread, but I'm to cheap to go to an artisan bread bakery..

  3. Lorraine -
    Since there are quite a few steps, I'd recommend looking at the recipe in the Artisan Bread's Every Day book. Check for it at your library!

  4. You've inspired me! I've been making bread for about a year (daily in my Zojirushi) but by hand when I have more time to play. I have heard of Reinharts methods and seeing that your sourdough bread has 'holes' inspires me to try. I have a good starter but my bread doesn't have that artisan look on the inside.

  5. Hello! I just found your blog yesterday and have really enjoyed reading all your posts! I have two of Peter Reinhart's books and have really enjoyed them! I made a 100% rye starter from his book on Whole Grain breads and it has worked wonderfully! After reading your posts about his newest book, I might just have to use the money I got for Christmas to buy this book! :)

  6. I hope this isn't a duplicate as I seem to be having computer issues. Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying your blog and found it through You have some great looking breads and I'm enjoying seeing your photos and reading your reviews. Good luck in the competition and I look forward to reading your other reviews when you post them. I have a bread baking in the oven right now. The onion grain one. Can't remember the correct name. Also started my seed starter yesterday to hopefully back my first loaf of sourdough. Yours looked great.


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