The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What kind of bread am I making?

gatorgirl77's picture

What kind of bread am I making?

About 10 years ago, my grandmother shared some of her starter with me and I've been using that starter and her recipe ever since.  She told me it was sourdough, but the more I look into it, the more I realize that it isn't sourdough at all! 

I keep this starter in the refrigerator and feed it every 3-10 days.  It's liquid.  It smells more sweet than sour.  I feed it sugar, water and potato flakes, let it sit out for 12 hours then back to the refrigerator for at least 3 days before baking with it again.  To make bread, I take out 1 cup of liquid and add it to my flour mixture.  It takes 8-12 hours for the dough to rise, punch it down & form into loaves then it has to rise 8-12 more hours before baking.  The bread is soft, airy and a little sweet, not sour.  It's a wonderful bread, and I have been selling it, but I'm not sure that I should be calling it sourdough.

I haven't seen this type of starter anywhere in all my research. Can anyone give it a name?



Cooky's picture

 "Friendship bread" was how it was described to me by a -- well, a friend -- who gave me some of her starter. The idea is that you keep passing starter along to new folks. I have seen this deseribed as Amish in origin, but that could be a myth. I know it has been around for a long time.



"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

Trishinomaha's picture

This sounds very much like Amish "Friendship" starter - very good for slightly sweet bread, pancakes, etc...


expatCanuck's picture


Well, I Google'd:

sugar water potato-flake starter

and got several hits.

Most (if not all) the references refer to the starter as a sourdough starter.

Perhaps not a conventional flour-based sourdough, but a sourdough nonetheless (even if it does taste sweet).

Maybe you could create a new genre. Call it Sweet 'n' Sourdough, or some such. ;7)

A loaf by any other name would taste as good (w/ apologies to Wild Billy Shakespeare).


- Richard

browndog's picture

When I was given my starter it came with instructions to feed with milk, sugar, and flour.

Then I got tfl 'religion' and it is thriving on flour and water. Presumably it's the yeast beasts themselves rather than their diet that constitute 'sourdough'. And from what I understand, 'sourdough' is an American distinction--other wheres it is  just starter, or leaven, or some such. So I think you are in the clear, gatorgirl, and you can call your starter whatever you like. Even 'Fred'.

Oldcampcook's picture

I built that same starter back in January of this year when I first started serious baking. I use it every weekend for at least 3 loaves of bread.  To increase the "punch", I retard the dough in the frig over night, then take it out, shape it and let it rise in the pans.

 My SO loves it.  In fact, she asked me to sweeten it a bit, so instead of the 1/3 cup of sugar in the recipe I use, I added 2/3 cups and it turned out just like she wanted it.

That is not to say that I don't have other starters because I feed and care for 5 different starters.  And I usually bake with them as well almost every weekend.

KipperCat's picture

How does this starter differ from your other ones in strength, timing and flavor?  this is the 2nd time now I've heard about a potato starter.  I don't think I'm ready to give up my flour starter, but who knows?  I definitely am not up to the care of 5 starters!

AnnieT's picture

I was looking at my ancient copy of B. Clayton's book to check the oatmeal sourdough recipe and I came across this in his chapter on starters. He says it came from a cookbook published by the Methodist Church women of Delphi, Indiana, 100 years ago.

Witch Yeast: 1cup mashed potato, 1/4cup sugar, 2 tspns salt, 1cup warm water. Stir together in a quart glass jar, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place (80*- 85*) for 2 days or until it ferments, bubbles up and smells pleasantly sour. Use or seal and refrigerate. The ladies used it in their Methodist White Bread which BC describes as: "creamy white and fully textured". Could it be a relative of gatorgirl's starter? A.