Q & A: Sweet Sourdough Tutorial

Q: Melissa, What is Sweet Sourdough? I have been trying a starter, but it has already failed once. I began again this week, but saw this and wanted to inquire!

Blessings, Robin

A: Last week, on my menu I mentioned my Sweet Sourdough Bread. This is really good bread. I love sourdough breads. If you have the starter, you don’t need to buy yeast or cook with yeast in order to have good bread. And it isn’t hard at all! Sourdough starters are very forgiving. I have two different starters going right now: Sweet Sourdough and Amish Friendship Bread Starter. I make all sorts of breads with these two starters.

- Sourdough Blueberry Muffins (the best Blueberry Muffins you’ve ever eaten!)
- English Muffins
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Cranberry Nut Bread
- Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
- Pizza Crust
- Sweet Sourdough Sandwich Bread (good for croutons, bread crumbs, and more!)
- Potato Sandwich Bread

I am experimenting with more recipes as the days go by. The Blueberry Muffin recipe (I used the Amish Starter for those) are such a favorite with my children I have gotten to where I make those every 10 days. Yum!

Sweet Sourdough Starter

Download the .pdf version of this tutorial.

To make the starter mix together:

3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. instant potato flakes
1 cup warm water
1/4 tsp. active yeast (this is optional)

Let the mixture sit on your counter or in a warm area of your home for about 3 days. Every 3 – 5 days you need to feed your starter. This means that every 3 – 5 days you can make your bread. Or, you can feed it once or twice before baking your bread. If you feed it more than once, you will have extra starter to either give away to a friend or bake extra batches of bread.

The day (8 – 12 hours) before you want to bake your bread, you need to feed the starter. You will feed the starter the above mixture except you do not add the yeast. Keep your starter in a warm place to allow it to “grow” and sour. On the days you are not baking bread, you can leave it in the refrigerator or on your counter. Putting it in fridge slows the sourdough down.

I like to keep my starter in a quart size canning jar, wide mouth is my favorite, but any will work.

The day you want to bake your bread (at least 8 hours after feeding the starter) you want to pour 1 cup of the starter into another jar. This is your starter for next time. You will begin the process over again.

To make the bread:

1/3 cup sugar (this optional, but I like to add it)
1 1/2 cup warm water
6 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup starter
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. yeast (optional – the bread will rise higher)


Mix everything together. You should have a nice soft dough. A good bread dough will feel similiar to a baby’s bottom. I love the feel of good dough! Grease a large bowl and place dough in and turn to coat with oil.


Cover lightly and let stand 8 – 12 hours in a warm place. I like to place mine in the oven with the light on. After it has risen, punch dough down. Place on a lightly floured surface. Knead 2 or three times, just enough to get the air bubble out. This is so simple!


Divide into three parts.

Place into three greased loaf pans and brush with oil.


Place in a warm place to rise at least 5 hours. All day is really best. And again, I like to put mine in the oven with the light on. I cover them with a tea towel.

After rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake loaves for 30 – 45 minutes. Remove from pans and brush with butter. Allow bread to cool. I store my bread in large plastic baggies. This bread does well frozen.

The bread in the photo was baked 7 days ago – notice how nicely it slices and it stays so moist!

About Melissa

Melissa Ringstaff is a pastor's wife, serving with her husband in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Southeastern Kentucky. She is a homeschooling mother of five plus four and Grandarlin' to 13 (so far) grandchildren. Melissa is the Founding Editor of A Virtuous Woman since 2001. She has written several titles including Spring Cleaning for the Heart and Home, The Homemaker's Journal: Keeping House, and Christian ADVENTures in Prophecy. You are invited to visit Melissa at A Virtuous Woman.
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24 Responses to Q & A: Sweet Sourdough Tutorial

  1. I am THRILLED to see this post! I’ve been looking for a friendly bread starter – love sourdough – and the idea of a sweet sourdough just flips me out!!! Thanks – I’m going to get the stuff together to make this work!

  2. Robin says:

    The Lord says, “You have not because you ask not.” I surely am glad I asked! Thank you Melissa,

    Blessings,
    Robin

  3. Meg says:

    Do you think it would turn out as pretty with whole wheat flour? :)

    It seems as though every time I try to make a WW sourdough, it fails. MISERABLY. I’ve tried the homemade starters (went moldy!) and the storebought (never “bubbled”)… I’m going to try this one out.

    *hopes*

  4. I LOVE THIS BREAD. I made my first batch earlier this week – it was fantastic. What lovely flavor – but not so sweet it tastes like dessert. It has a nice, soft sweetness that just makes it rich. But the texture – it is so wonderfully soft and makes a terrific every day bread. I’ll be making more tomorrow – it is fun to eat and to share!

  5. Heather says:

    Melissa…I use this same starter and my family loves it!!! I am curious, I had an Amish Starter once and my family loved it as well. Can you tell me how to make another one?

  6. Heather says:

    Melissa…my family loves the sweet sour dough bread, we use it for so many things. I used to have the Amish Starter but it died when we went out of town, can you tell me how to make a new starter?? My family loved that bread!!!

  7. quilt'n mama says:

    I tried this sweet sourdough starter and made the bread recipe you list here with a few adjustments (some brown sugar & wheat flour- then baked as free loaves on a cookie sheet.) It is amazing!!!! The kids LOVE IT! I need to make some food for a friend who is expecting for her family, I'm making a batch of this bread for her! It's awesome!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Gayly
    www. quilt-n-mama. blogspot.com

  8. skey13 says:

    This is fantastic bread! Just the recipe that I had been searching for. Tried this once from someone else, but they wouldn't share the recipe.

    I have purchased threee different bread knifes and I'm not happy with any of them.

    What do you use to cut the bread into such pretty slices?

  9. This recipe is perfect for me to try! thank you for the Q & A! I wrote a post about you and this bread on my blog. Thank you for the great recipe!

  10. Tara says:

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I am very excited to try it and see if it is similar to a friend's sourdough (she won't share the recipe). I just have a couple of questions. I've mad the starter and if I'm understanding correctly, the starter is supposed to rest for 3 days, and then it needs to be fed at least 8 hours before I make my initial batch of bread, correct? The directions say to pour off 1 cup of the starter into another jar and use another 1 cup to make the bread. Well, right now, I have 1 1/2 cups of starter. When I feed it, I will have 3 cups of starter. What do I do with the remaining 1 cup?

  11. Sheila says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! We made this bread years ago and we have missed it. I plan to make it as gifts for Christmas. It really is very special bread. I appreciate your help!

  12. Danielle says:

    I am, without a doubt, in LOVE with this recipe! I have been making it now for over two years and my family is thrilled with it. It reminds me of my youth and my father bringing home this bread as a treat (he would trade the Amish for it), it reminds my husband of his Grandmother! We are so thankful!!! Bless you!

  13. Mrs. Darnell says:

    I know this was posted a while ago, but I just discovered it! Could you tell me what you feed your starter? Thank you

  14. Beej says:

    I'm trying this today. Hoping it turns out okay.

  15. Kelsey says:

    I have never made homemade bread but I would like to try it. However! I am confused at what a starter is and what it means to feed the starter. Can you email me with a few more details please?

    • Melissa says:

      Kelsey, a bread starter is basically a fermented mixture that grows yeast, so it is alive. Because the starter is growing yeast, you do not need to add active dry yeast to the dough. Also, you have to “feed” sourdough starters to keep the yeast alive. That is why every few days (depending on the sourdough starter you are using) you will need to add some fresh ingredients to the starter. With the Sweet Sourdough Bread, the yeast feeds on the sugar and potato flakes.

      Wild yeast is all around us in the air. When making this sourdough starter, you don’t need to add active dry yeast unless you want to. Just be sure to keep the lid on your jar loose so that the yeast can find their way in.

      Often, a sourdough bread using a starter will require a longer rise time. However, if you are making a sweet quick, sourdough bread like Basic Amish Friendship bread, you will not need to let the bread rise longer, as the sourdough starter is used for adding delicious flavor to the dough/ batter.

      My Sweet Sourdough Bread is one of the easiest and yummiest breads you will ever make! It’s fail proof – provided you follow the instructions! I promise!

      Hope that answers your questions! Let me know if you have any others!

  16. Kristi says:

    Hi! I baked off my bread today. The first rise was fine….second rise rose to the edges of the pan and I put in the oven (about 5.5 hrs later). My loaves did not have rounded tops…..they actually sunk in in spots. What did I do incorrect? I love sourdough, but had no success in rise with a different recipe so I’d like to get yours down to an art! Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    • Melissa says:

      Kristi, my guess is that you allowed it to rise too long. Did you add the extra optional yeast, or just use the starter? If you added the extra yeast the dough does not need as long a rise time. I have had this happen before, so don’t lose heart!

    • Melissa says:

      Kristi, my guess is that you allowed it to rise too long. Did you add the extra optional yeast, or just use the starter? If you added the extra yeast the dough does not need as long a rise time. I have had this happen before, so don’t lose heart!

  17. Catherine says:

    I am so glad to have found this recipe. Many years ago I had a sweet sourdough starter given to me by a friend. The bread was amazing and I miss so much. My starter went bad when I left in the care of someone when I went out-of-town. I can’t wait to make this again! Just one question, any ideas on how to keep the starter from going bad when I have to leave it?

    • Melissa says:

      Catherine, you can just put the starter in the refrigerator and pull it out when you come back home. Have fun!

  18. Connie says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. I have all of the ingredients ready as well as the wide-mouthed quart jar with a plastic lid. For some reason I am unable to download the PDF version of your tutorial. I am excited about the prospect of making this bread. My husband is in ministry and I would love to serve this bread to guests in our home. Thanks again.

  19. FiGGY says:

    How can I modify this recipe to just make 1 (or 2) loaves? I only have 1 bread pan & am new to this whole bread-making thing. I’m very excited to try it, though! Do you also have a recipe for potato bread?

    Thanks for your blog! It has helped my amish friendship bread adventures. I am ready to move on to different things. The hubby is excited!

  20. Shannon says:

    I’m a little confused , so on day 3 you feed your starter so what exactly does this mean , and what are the exact measuents ?

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