Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sourdough Baking Day

It has been a while since I've had a big baking day - and even longer that I've shared about one. Though I bake often, I haven't had a planned day to do a large amount of baking. Now I remember why I love baking this way. I was able to get so much more accomplished with a little planning.

Since I mostly  bake with sourdough now, I actually started on Monday to get my starter active and growing.

I jotted down some notes of times and activities throughout the day. I'll share what I was doing with the bread and some of our other activities of the day so that you can get an idea of what a baking day looks like with four children.

Monday 8:30 a.m.
Grind Prairie Gold wheat flour. This is the flour I plan to use for all my baking.

My sourdough starter was in the fridge and didn't look very alive.

I stirred in 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups water and transferred it to a larger container.

In a few hours it had grown and expanded.

Monday 3:00 p.m.
Stirred the starter and added 4 cups of flour and 3 cups water and transferred to an even larger bowl.

Monday 8:30 p.m.
The sourdough starter was now good and bubbly.

I did some premixes of flour, liquid (either milk or water) and starter for muffins, chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, and English muffins. It only took a few minutes but I knew it would save tons of time in the morning, plus it would give time for the starter to feed on the flour and be full of good yeasties!

I was careful to place the recipe with each bowl because at this point - they all look alike.

Tuesday 6:40 a.m.
I'm not an early bird but my children are. I'm learning the benefits of early rising. I mixed up and baked the muffins for breakfast. I added some chocolate chips to the batter which made me a popular mommy this morning!

7:00 a.m.
While the muffins baked, I mixed up the chocolate cake and had it ready to put in the oven when the muffins were done. Two recipes done already!

After breakfast, I helped the children get dressed and started washing the breakfast dishes. I was interrupted with helping my daughter with her math. Math has been a struggle all year. We've wasted a lot of tears (hers) and frustration (mine) on first grade math. But the last few days she has discovered that if she tackles the hated subject right away in the morning, she can forget it for the day.  She is actually very good at it and it takes a very short time if she is motivated. I hope the new trend is permanent! And it is a good reminder to me to tackle my disliked tasks instead of complaining about them!

The dishes are still not done but I mixed up a double batch of honey wheat sourdough bread so that it could begin raising.

Mixed up sourdough cinnamon rolls.

I'll give a confession - I let the children play a phonics game on the computer. We allow our children very little screen time. We'd much rather them playing outside or more creatively. But with the rain (again) and the excellent way they tackled their school work without even being asked, I thought they deserved a reward. And it would allow me uninterrupted kitchen time!

Mixed up and cut out English muffins and allowed to raise.

Kneaded the cinnamon roll dough and set in bowl to raise.

Tackled the dishes again. One thing I love about a baking day is how many utensils and bowls can be used again and again before washing. But eventually they need washed. I don't have a large enough kitchen to let everything just pile up.

Began baking English muffins. These are baked right on the stove top.

While I watched them, I finished up the dishes. Now I have a clean kitchen, three recipes completed and two more rising. All the mixing is finished. The children have been extraordinarily good but they now need some mother attention and help with the school work they couldn't do alone.

Shaped the honey wheat bread into loaves then sampled the English muffins for lunch. This was the first time I tried this particular recipe and I think they were the best yet. And, yes,  I plan to share some of my favorite sourdough recipes, hopefully beginning next week.

1:15 p.m.
Shaped the cinnamon rolls. I wanted to get to it earlier but my two year old had a complete melt down (lest you think we are perfect) which earned her an early nap.

One reason I like sourdough baking is the flexibility. If the bread is risen but I don't get to it for another hour, it doesn't flop. The way my life is now, I can't be ruled by a bread's schedule. And the dough rose beautifully today. Maybe it like the rainy weather!

3:00 p.m.
Baked honey wheat bread.

3:30 p.m.
Baked cinnamon rolls.

4:00 p.m.
I overbaked the cinnamon rolls a little. Think anyone will notice if I add a glaze?

And that was the baking for the day. Most of the work was done in the before 10:00. The rest of the day the bread dough only took a few minutes here and there for some checking, shaping and baking. Hopefully now we'll have a little extra to put in the freezer.

Do you ever do a large amount of baking? Any hints to share?


  1. It all looks great and I think I am going to make your honey bread recipe and maybe your cinnamon roll recipe today!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. About the only time I do a big baking day it's pies.
    I want to try bread and cinnamon rolls sometime.

    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Well done! =)

    I need to try making a sour dough starter... Looking forward to seeing your recipes!

  4. I've been wanting to try making english muffins for some time now. Your blog is very inspiring!!

    Thanks for posting!!!

  5. I am looking forward to your sourdough recipes. I enjoy your recipes and refer to them often. I seriously need to learn how to do these kind of baking days. I feel so disorganized and it gets frustrating especially as my family grows. My one goal for this year is to become better organized and structured. Thanks for sharing the details of how you make it work with your lil ones.

  6. What a great post about your baking. It all looks wonderful. I make all my own bread, but I have never made sourdough bread yet - thats the next step. Its what I want to do, but I can't find any starter, or know anyone to pass some on to me, and I don't know how to make it myself. How did you come by yours?

  7. Helen -
    I'll be sharing a series on sourdough baking, including where to get a free starter - soon!

  8. An amazingly inspiring post Gina!! I really should bust out my starter. I'm afraid I've gotten in a slump and have left it in the dark for far too long. I should try cinnamon rolls with sourdough. I'm betting the kids would eat it then!

  9. I just had a big baking day today, too. I'm just beginning my sourdough journey. I loved the pictures and would love to see those recipes. Thanks for posting.

  10. Wow I dont know how you manage to bake so much. At best I could bake about 3 items and that's me going crazy and if the kids are outside for the most part.

    Hehe loves it with the dishes. The real downside of baking.

    You should make a recipe book.

  11. So I was wondering, do freeze your cinnamon rolls?

    I've wanted to bake batches ahead but have never known whether to freeze them before the second rise, after it, or after they've baked. It would be nice to know for gift giving. I'd love to share, but I just can't see myself going out at 7am ;D

  12. Wow! I'm so impressed with how much baking you did in such a short time!

  13. Quinn - Am I allowed to admit that none of the cinnamon rolls made it to the freezer? And we didn't give any away - unless you count sharing with the children.

    My favorite way is to freeze after baking. Freezing dough does keep it from rising as nice but still tastes great. But I just like getting all the baking done at once. I wrote more about it here.


  14. What a productive day you had. I need to do more mega batches like you do. In our house, any time spent in the kitchen is highly valued. I have been trying to lose weight and baking is the first to go.
    I have a problem overbaking my cinnamon rolls too. They go from under done to over done in about 30 seconds.

  15. I love stuff like this, Gina- thanks for sharing all the nitty gritty details! I've yet to have a sandwich bread come out with my sourdough and I've never even thought about chocolate cake or cinnamon rolls, so I am looking forward to your recipes!

    An Oregon Cottage

  16. Hi!Thanks for your great blog. I enjoy checking in with you and catching up on your happenings. I am wondering about your bread pans. What kind are they? Maybe it's been way too many years since I've had sparkly shiny new bread pans...but yours look special? Are they? Thanks again for taking the time for your blog.
    Mary Ann

  17. Your breads are all so beautiful! I enjoyed your "how do you make time for baking" posts too.

  18. I am truly inspired! My only problem is that it would take my family forever to eat all that bread now that all the children have left home but one : ) It looks absolutely wonderful and I may have to try your recipes on a smaller scale : )

  19. Mary Ann -
    My bread pans are stainless steel. After ruining the normal non-stick pans I wanted something that would last. Stainless steel is expensive but should last my whole lifetime - and my parents gave them to me as a gift!

    I do find that they bake differently. I guess because they are so thick, it takes longer to bake bread and the bottom doesn't brown as nice. But I still like them!

  20. You inspired me! A friend sent me some sourdough starter powder, and I'll soon have my own baking day. Thank you.

  21. Hi, Can you tell me how you made your glaze and whether it would work on other baked items such as muffins etc?

    1. I made the glaze with powdered sugar and a little milk mixed to the drizzle consistency. You could use it on any baked goods.

  22. Hi!! I have been so inspired and exited to actually give sourdough a good go again after reading all your posts. Thanks for sharing all of your experience and pointers. I cant seem to find your recipes for sourdough cinnamon buns and cake though. I would really like them! I will look back over all the recipes in the sourdough section and see if its in them. I appreciate your posts so much!

    1. Those are two recipes that I have never posted! Maybe I should do that one of these days!

  23. Hi Gina!! I just wanted you to know that I have been learning So much and having a great time learning how to bake with what I am terming Naturally Leavened bread, as I am striving to learn to bake my bread light and sweet, not sour. And i am SO thankful your blog and recipes, and especially your example of a baking day, because that is what I have been basically doing! I have been refreshing my starter more, and keeping it growing tha way in the fridge also, and then baking, and I use less rising times (2 hours rise, shape, 2 hours, bake), and so far its light and not sour, though some has a bit of tang. But its so flavorful over instant yeast bread! And the crackers go as fast as I can bake them! lol Thanks again so much for all you have posted!! It has been a huge huge blessing....

  24. I just found your blog and I could spend weeks going through all this great info!

  25. I just stumbled upon your blog and it is a wealth of information! I have just begun using sourdough starter and have an ignorant question. When a recipe calls for 1 cup of starter, do I use the starter all puffed up and bubbly, or do I stir the starter and use a cup of the mixed up starter? If I measure it out before stirring, it really isn't a cup of "goop," but if I stir it, it gets really thick and dense. Hope that makes sense!

    1. Welcome to the fun of sourdough! And your question is a good one. At least I wondered the same thing at first!

      That answer is that you will stir the starter down BEFORE measuring the starter. Otherwise, as you found, the amount of bubbles can vary the amount of starter and it is hard to be accurate.

      Happy Baking,

    2. Thank you! Well, I am in the middle of the "Soft Sourdough Bread" recipe and I didn't use enough starter then. That explains why my dough was dense and VERY difficult to knead! I'll cook it up and we'll enjoy sourdough bricks with soup. :o) I'll try again and hopefully do better.


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