Sourdough Starter and Basic 3 (or 4) Ingredient Sourdough Bread Recipe - Practical Stewardship (2024)

Sourdough starter and sourdough bread is amazing to work with. It is very versatile, and the basic sourdough dough can be used to be crafted into sourdough cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, waffles, rolls, and more.

I haven’t bought bread for a really long time. In the last two years or so, I think I’ve bought one loaf. We are not anti-bread, but we have gotten along well without it. JSarr used to take dinner leftovers for lunch, and we eat things like fruit and yogurt, scrambled eggs, tuna lettuce wraps, quesadillas, and nacho salads for lunch.

Then a couple of months ago I started reading about sourdough, and how good it is for you to eat and is easier to digest. You can go to Kitchen Stewardshipfor more information. Then I read it is only three ingredients (4 if you count the start, but the start is made from two of the basic ingredients). I had to try! The sourdough start recipe is inspired by Living Water Health and Wellness (defunct website now). This sourdough bread recipe is adapted from Cheeseslave.

I have read many different instructions about starting sourdough. Some say to feed it every 8 hours or 12 hours. My recipe calls for feeding it every 24 hours. I try to find the most efficient way to do things, so I will be more inclined to repeat the process. The following has worked for me. Also, some say to throw away part of the start. I just don’t understand this, as it seems like a waste, and you could at least give it away. I have NEVER thrown any of it out.

Sourdough Starter Recipe


  • -whole wheat flour (I have read white flour is good to start with until you get the hang of it. I used a blend of white and whole wheat to start. I heard rye and spelt works, too.)
  • -filtered water or water that has been boiled and cooled (if using tap water, you can let it sit out over night so the chlorine evaporates out of the water. I have made this several times, and I have used water right from the tap sometimes, and I haven’t had any problems)
  • -glass or mason jar
  • -cheesecloth or coffee filter (will crust and tear if you get the dough on it, so I recommend cheesecloth) to cover the glass jar
  • -wooden spoon


  1. Combine 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water in the glass container and cover it with the cheesecloth.
  2. Leave it on your counter top for 24 hours.
  3. There will be a separation of liquid on top (called the hooch or alcohol) that is darker than the start, and you can pour it off if you want, but you can just mix it back in. I mix it in.
  4. Stir, and feed your start with another 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water, and stir again. You can use a fresh container each day.
  5. Repeat this process for 7 days, and you have your sourdough start! When you see the bubbles, you have captured wild yeast. Isn’t that crazy? The start should have a sourdough smell.
  6. If you won’t use the start right away, you can put it in your refrigerator with a lid on it, and feed it equal parts water and flour once a week. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of months.

Sourdough Starter and Basic 3 (or 4) Ingredient Sourdough Bread Recipe - Practical Stewardship (4)

5 from 1 vote


4 Ingredient Sourdough Bread


  • 1/4cupsourdough startwhich is the flour and water together: read above
  • two cups of flour + more for the well-floured surface
  • 1 1/2cupsof water
  • 1tsaltupdate 10/30/12** I now use 2 t salt


  1. Combine 1/4 cup of your sourdough start with two cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

  2. Leave in a glass bowl on your counter (if it’s a cold winter’s night, you may want to leave it close to a heat source) for 16-17 hours covered with plastic wrap. I have used the dough after about 12 hours, and I really don’t notice a difference, but may be it’s less sour. It will look similar to a sponge, like the picture below, with all of those nice bubbles after the massive hours. It may feel really wet to the touch.

  3. Place dough on a well-floured surface, and turn a few times. You don’t need to aggressively knead it. The dough can also stay a bit sticky in the middle, but the outside of the dough shouldn’t be sticky. I have had to add a cup of flour before at this point because the outside of the dough kept absorbing the flour. I sometimes use a spatula in one hand, and my free hand to mix it all in. This helps my hands to be cleaner. Make sure the bread looks like the bread dough pictured in the corningwear below or the bread dough pictured in the crock-pot below. It is relatively dry to the touch.

  4. Put the dough in a colander (I like that colander has holes that allows the dough to breathe and can make a nice little pattern on your bread) or some kind of bowl lined with a cloth and cover completely.

  5. Leave the covered dough for 1 hour and let rise (by a warm heat source is best).

  6. Put an empty Dutch oven or some kind of corningware with a lid in the oven (or cook it in the crock-pot) .

  7. After an hour, turn on the oven to 500 degrees with the empty Dutch oven inside the oven so the Dutch oven gets nice and hot, and preheat for 30 minutes. This gives the dough a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes to rise.

  8. Carefully take out the hot Dutch oven placing the dough inside (I actually plop the dough in because it’s so hot), and put the lid over the dough. Often times my dough sizzles when it hits the Dutch oven.

  9. Put your Dutch oven back in the oven, and bake the bread at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes (I sometimes bake it at 400).

  10. Take off the lid, and bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the bread if needed.

  11. Cool, slice, and enjoy!

Below the recipes are pictures of what the dough and bread should look like in different stages.

The start separating here below: totally normal

Sourdough Starter and Basic 3 (or 4) Ingredient Sourdough Bread Recipe - Practical Stewardship (6)

Pictured above is what the bubbles should look like after the dough has been on your counter all night. The dough is spongy and wet. The more whole wheat flour you use, the less wet and spongy it will be. Here is one more picture of the wet sponge overnight.

Below, the first picture is a picture of the dough right before turning onto the flour. The middle picture is taken after the dough has been turned onto a floured surface until the dough is “dry” to the touch.

**Update 10/10/12 I made one batch of sourdough bread out of wheat flour the other day and divided it into two equal parts right before the 1 1/2 hour rise. They rose in their own greased loaf pans, and it made 2 short loaves. I preheated the oven to 500 degrees with nothing inside and forgot to turn it down. So I baked the two loaves together uncovered at 500 degrees for 18 or 20 minutes. Despite the mistake, they were beautiful and tasty as seen below.

Then today I made 1 loaf out of 1 batch of sourdough bread so the bread would be taller. It turned out great, too. I baked it uncovered for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. I was talking to my friend Merri about what I did, baking the bread so hot the previous day, and she commented that sourdough is forgiving. She is right!!!**

The Verdict: The first time I made this, JSarr said, “this is the most impressive thing you’ve ever made.” It seems like something you would buy in the store and it’s SOOOO easy. Its just takes some pre-thought. We love this and eat this ALL of the TIME!!

Update 1/7/13** I did the cost breakdown and figured it costs about $0.61/loaf to make for the ingredients. You can go here to see the actual cost breakdown.

Want another idea to make with your sourdough start?

How about Sourdough Doughnuts?

Try making sourdough pizza crust, calzones, or breadsticks with the same recipe.

Or want to try making the sourdough bread in the crock-pot? Go here to see how…

Sourdough Starter and Basic 3 (or 4) Ingredient Sourdough Bread Recipe - Practical Stewardship (2024)


What is the secret to a good sourdough starter? ›

There is no single best ratio, but I've found a ratio of 1:5:5 fed twice daily at 12-hour intervals to produce a sourdough starter that's strong and healthy. This ratio corresponds to 20% ripe starter carryover, 100% water, and 100% flour (a mix of whole grain rye and white flour) at each feeding.

What is the best ratio for maintaining sourdough starter? ›

Sourdough starters should be fed a minimum ratio of 1:1:1, meaning equal WEIGHTS of starter to flour to water. If you feed your starter this way and keep it at a consistently warm temperature 78ºF, your starter should peak and become active/bubbly in about 3-4 hours.

What is the ratio of sourdough starter to flour for bread? ›

So, a sourdough feeding ratio is the relative amount (referring to weight) of old sourdough compared to fresh flour and water. Typical feeding ratios are 1:2:2 or 1:3:3 (old sourdough: fresh flour: water). However, even extreme ratios like 1:50:50 would still work.

What is in a sourdough starter and why is it necessary for true sourdough bread? ›

Simply put: a sourdough starter is a live fermented culture of fresh flour and water. Once combined, the culture will begin to ferment and cultivate the natural yeasts found in our environment. A small portion is added to your bread dough to make it rise. Commercial yeast IS NOT required.

Do you have to discard sourdough starter every time you feed it? ›

It would be best if you discarded some portion of your starter each time you feed it unless you want to continue to let it grow. Eventually, you need to discard the used “food” (flour and water) that's been used to sustain your starter during the last fermentation period.

What is the 1 2 2 ratio for sourdough starter? ›

A 1:2:2 feeding ratio would consist of one part existing starter, two parts flour and two parts water. For example, if you have 30g of existing starter, you would feed it 60g of flour and 60g of flour. The most common feeding ratios for daily maintenance are 1:1:1 or 1:2:2.

Can you use too much starter in sourdough bread? ›

If you have too much starter compared to the additional flour and water you're adding, your hungry starter consumes all the nutrients and then it's not as bubbly.

What happens if I forgot to discard starter before feeding? ›

If you didn't discard a portion of your starter each time you feed it, two things would happen: Your starter would grow to an enormous, unmanageable size. Your starter would likely become more and more inhospitable to the bacteria and yeast we want as the mixture would become ever more acidic.

What is the healthiest flour for sourdough bread? ›

Compared to whole wheat flour, rye flour is said to be the most nutrient- and amylase-dense option for a sourdough starter. Overall, it has a lower gluten protein content than wheat flour, which means it produces slack, sticky, and dense doughs.

What is the best flour combination for sourdough bread? ›

The best flour blend for creating a new sourdough starter is 50% whole-meal flour (whole wheat or whole rye) and 50% bread flour or all-purpose flour. I recommend a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and bread flour.

What happens if you add too much flour to sourdough starter? ›

When you overfeed a sourdough starter you dilute the natural population of yeast and bacteria, making your sourdough culture weak and inactive. However, unlike not feeding it at all, your starter will not die from overfeeding. With a little love, your sourdough starter can recover from being overfed.

Is it better to feed sourdough starter with whole wheat flour? ›

Now, the most important thing is to not skimp on the good flour. This is why I start out with 100% whole wheat. It just has more to offer your little micro-organisms than hard white, and it tends to give your starter its best foot forward.

How much sourdough starter to use in bread? ›

How much of my starter should I use for a sourdough loaf? As a general rule, I like to use a 20% innoculation of active sourdough, at 100% hydration. This means that my sourdough has equal weights of flour and water, and for a dough containung 1000 grams of flour for two loaves, I will use 200 grams of starter.

How old is the oldest sourdough starter? ›

The World's 'Oldest' Sourdough Starter Was Made With 4,500-Year-Old Yeast. There's no bread quite like sourdough. In addition to being tasty as a sandwich bread, delicious as sourdough croutons, and even great just toasted with butter, sourdough's production process is decidedly unlike other breads.

What is the bad bacteria in sourdough starter? ›

If your starter develops pink or orange streaks or a film, it must be thrown away. They may be very faint, but if you are unsure, it's better to be safe than sorry with this one. The pink streaks are actually not caused by mold, but by a harmful bacteria called Serratia marcescens.

What makes a sourdough starter more sour? ›

The longer you go in between feedings, the more acetic acid your starter will develop. This acid creates a more sour flavor.

How to make 100% sourdough starter? ›

A 100% hydration sourdough starter is a culture which is kept and fed with water and flour at equal weights. Like for instance 5 oz water to 5 oz flour. A 166% hydration starter is fed with equal volume of flour and water, which most typically is one cup of water (8.3 oz) and one cup of flour (5 oz).

Does sourdough starter get better with age? ›

While the age of your starter won't make your bread any better — turns out, only good sourdough practices can do that — it's a link in the long legacy of sourdough, one of the oldest forms of baking that exists. Whether your starter is a week or a decade old, you can become part of that lineage as well.

What is the fastest way to activate a sourdough starter? ›

Place your starter in a warm spot to rise and activate, ideally 75-80 F. Temperature is really important. The warmer it is, the faster it will rise. Your starter is active when it shows the following signs: doubles in size, small and large bubbles appear, has a spongey or fluffy texture and exhibits a pleasant aroma.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 6359

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.