The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Any good books?

Thegreenbaker's picture

Any good books?

Hi everyone,

I have been reading alot on sourdoughs and how to make startes lately.


I really really want to get it happening, but I just cant seem to get all this percentage stuff sorted in my head.

I have found (at least with baking bread) I am a kinetic learner-but I know I need to get a firm grasp of what I need to do before I start.

Instead of asking a hundred questions (yes I have done searches and read sourdough lady's, sourdough guy's, mountaindog's. Floydm's and many other posts and comments and discussions, but its all jumbled in my head now) :(


So I thought it would be easier to ask if there is or if anyone knows about a good book on sourdough that is simple and easy to follow?

I have BBA, and will go back to that after this post, but sadly, I need to be explained in basic terms for least till I get the feel of it........(I'm a feel kinda gal!)


Sourdough is my favorite type of bread and I want to make it so I dont have to pay AU $6 per tiny loaf for pretend sourdough. :(


Thanks a million!

The greenbaker.

edh's picture


I'm no help on the book recommendations; I asked the same question a while back, but I've been down the same road of frustration!

If I may be so bold (being a complete newbie at this artisan and sourdough stuff) I thought I'd offer what has proved to be a very easy solution/jumping off point for me with sourdough.

I started off making the NYT no-knead bread, just the way the recipe says. After a couple of weeks of being amazed at that, I followed sourdolady's very straightforward directions for making a starter; just used whole wheat flour and pineapple juice to get it going, then fed ww flour and water for another couple of weeks while I worked up the nerve to try it.

When the nerve arrived, I took the NYT recipe, substituted 1/2 cup of starter for the yeast (I only used 1 tsp of salt, but that was for taste reasons, not any understanding of chemistry), and proceeded with the rest of the recipe as usual (my starter is whole wheat, but I use AP flour for the rest). All the rising took a bit longer than the yeast recipe, but we're talking a couple of hours more each time, at most. The results blew me (and my family) away; just like bakery bread! Only cheaper!

The only thing I've changed since then is that I use 1 1/2 cups of water rather than the 1 5/8 called for, and I start the dough earlier in the evening, so that I can do 3 stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals when I first get it going. The change in the dough is sort of magical; from lumpy and gloppy to smooth and soft. I've also read and re-read mountaindog's posts about stretch and fold and shaping. They've helped alot.

I now what you mean about needing to understand first; I generally have to be able to picture an entire process in my head before I give it a try, so this bread thing has required a certain amount of gritting my teeth and just getting my hands messy. Remember, it's just flour and water; the worst that can happen is you'll make some birds very happy and then you'll try again!

Keep at it!


Susan's picture

My suggestion, Greenbaker, is for someone in Australia to volunteer to send you some of their starter in the mail by taking 1 T starter, load it up with flour so that it is a firm little piece of dough, roll it out to fit in an envelope, wrap it in plastic and mail it to you. When you get it, divide it in half, put one half in the fridge for insurance, and put the other half in a small bowl with 1 T of filtered or bottled water and enough flour (say 1-2 T) to make a thick batter. Let it rise until it is puffy with bubbles. Then you'll know it is working. Refresh it a few times and it will be ready to raise a loaf of bread. That will give you a jump-start, and you can be making your own starter in the meantime with none of the pressure of will it work?, is it ready? Good luck.

sphealey's picture

Both _Bread Alone_ and RLB's _The Bread Bible_ have very complete and precise instructions for getting your own starter going (although I would ignore Bread Alone's explanation of how it works and his advice to add "a pinch of yeast"; the Bread Bible's explanations are more realistic in my mind). _Bread Science_ (reviewed by Floyd; available from the author's web site) goes into perhaps more detail than you want!

However, another option is to order a sample of started from King Arthur. For $6.95 plus shipping they send you about 100 g of starter in a sterile container plus precise instructions on how to revivie and maintain it (albeit at larger quantites than most of us want in the long run).

Apparently they only ship the starter every two weeks or so, because I reached the point of frustration with my homemade rye starter, ordered one from KA, and then by the time it arrived my own starter was rising away! So now I have two starters; one rye and one white. Oh well just have to bake more loaves...


Tess's picture

  If you would like to try a free established starter, look over the following site:

  In addition to the BBA, the summer 2007 issue of 'The Baker's Companion' which is put out by King Arthur Flour has day by day directions for starting a starter that are very easy to follow.  There is also a sourdough section in 'The ALL-PURPOSE BAKING COOKBOOK' put out by King Arthur. My suggestion would be to try your local library and see what is available.  Some bread cookbooks have a sourdough section. 

  It can be confusing as starters can range from liquid, batter, sponge, to firm.  Most of the confusion will disappear once you begin and can observe visually what is taking place.  I also wouldn't worry about percentages at this point.  Just look over the different books and starter directions and recipes available within it, pick one book, stick with the type of starter created, and follow the recipes given until you are ready to branch out.  Good luck.