The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Buttermilk Sourdough Bread

PaddyL's picture

Buttermilk Sourdough Bread

I just made 4 beautiful loaves of white buttermilk sourdough bread, panned loaves, perfect for sandwiches or just eating with butter.  I've never been this pleased with sourdough bread in my entire baking life, and would show you pictures if I knew how to do it.  I'll have to ask my nephew if he can do the digital camera thing next time I make it.  As a diabetic, it's so good to be able to eat white bread again!  It isn't terribly sour, actually not sour at all, but it has a lovely buttermilk tang to it, and it's so soft!  I got the recipe from the members' recipes at the King Arthur Baking Circle, after I had to pitch out my tainted starter a couple of weeks ago, and I am going to keep this starter going, and will be using it for other breads.  Isn't it exciting when something bready turns out magnificently?  I've been baking bread for years and years and I still get excited!

bakerb's picture

Hi, PaddyL, your bread sounds wonderful...can you please share the recipe?  Thanks!   Beth

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

both the starter and the bread recipe.

I try to keep fresh buttermilk in the fridge at all times.  Although I've never been brave enough to try drinking it. I find it invaluable when making biscuits and cakes.  I've added it to my hamburger buns from time to time and find that it's a wonderful way to get that light and fluffy texture.  I agree, it adds a nice little tang to the bite.


Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi there Grapevine T,

If you want to know what light and fluffy is all about try this as well......

I cup self raising flour,

salt to taste,

1 large egg

Enough buttermilk to make a liquid batter to your liking

1 Tbspoon of brown or white sugar plus a dash of vanilla essence.

Optional( but I use it) half a teaspoon of baking powder.

Combine all ingredients till it is all mixed and becomes a liquid batter. Let rest for a half hour.

Cook in a well oiled or buttered medium heat frypan requiring one turn. Ready for turning when the uncooked surface area has developed a lot of air bubbles, should be less than 2 minutes.

Bon Appetite...........Pete

PaddyL's picture

for permission to copy/paste the recipe over here.  The whole starter thing only takes a week before it's ready to make bread, and the taste and texture are so way or another, I'll get the recipe posted here.  I promise.

PaddyL's picture

This was posted on the King Arthur Baking Circle by someone named Wharrison.

Submitted by: Wharrison Category: Sourdough Last Updated: 1/23/2003 Add to My Recipe Box

3 Cups Buttermilk (preferably Prairie Farms)
3 Cups Bread Flour or Unbleached Flour
1 Pkg. or Tablespoon Yeast
1/4 Cup Honey


• 2 Cups (generous) sourdough starter
• 3 Cups milk (2%)
• 1 Stick Butter
• 1/2 Cup Honey
• 4 Teaspoons Salt
• 2 Teaspoons Yeast *
• 1O-12 Cups Bread or Unbleached Flour
• * Yeast can be purchased in bulk from various sources Transfer yeast to airtight containers and place in the freezer or refrigerator.

• Equipment Needed:

• 6 Quart stainless steel, plastic, or crockery container
• 4 1 1/2 quart Pyrex baking dishes
• Measuring cups and spoons
• Heavy-duty spatulas or wooden spoons
• Sauce pans
• Olive (preferred) or other good oil and Crisco
• Pastry brush
Bread Board (optional)
• Accurate Meat Thermometer (optional)
• Large baker's rack (optional)
• Chef's or heavy duty apron


325 degrees for approximately 5O minutes. See procedures for additional information.


Excluding the replenishment of the sourdough starter the night before baking, the baking of this bread will take up to 4 1/2 to 5 hours from start to finish.

Among the factors insuring the consistent flavor and quality of this bread is the use of the buttermilk starter; its replenishment the night before baking; and milk, honey, yeast, and butter. The replenishment of the starter the night before baking and the weekly baking of bread, which helps to maintain the consistent quality of the sourdough starter, are the primary factors in maintaining the consistency of flavor. Should you be unable to bake bread on a weekly basis, procedures are given below to help insure the consistency of quality. These hints are helpful when the baking of bread in the summertime is generally periodical.


In the morning, mix all ingredients in a large bowl and cover. As this is initially a very active mixture, the starter should be stirred down several times during the day. In the evening, the starter should be stirred down once again and placed in a 2 - 2 1/2 quart container with a slightly loose fitting top. A plate should be placed underneath the container to catch any spillage which may occur over the next few days. Place the starter in the refrigerator. For the first few days, the starter may have to be stirred down. After the 4th or 5th day the catch plate can be removed.

The mixing of these ingredients should be done approximately one week prior to the intended baking of bread. The sourdough starter will still be at its peak of flavor and activity. Afterwards, the starter will become a little more "sour" with each passing day, making it a good starter to use for Rye breads or for a more "sour" sourdough bread.

The following measures will be helpful to those who are unable to bake this bread on a weekly basis: --

Within ten days two weeks after non-use, this starter will begin to take on the well known characteristics of a true "sour"dough starter. By the 3rd or 4th week of non-use, one may begin to see the appearance of a blackish liquid and experience the smell of an "alcoholic" sourdough. In order to bring the quality, flavor, and activity of the starter up to standards, the following procedures should be employed: --

(1) If the starter has not been replenished for two or three weeks and the blackish liquid has not appeared, pour the starter into a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix, and remove half (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) of starter. Add 2 cups each of bread or unbleached flour and Buttermilk. Blend thoroughly and cover. If this procedure is done in the evening, you will be able to bake an excellent bread in the morning.

(2) If the starter has not been replenished for three or more weeks and the blackish liquid as appeared, pour the starter into a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix until the blackish liquid has been incorporated back into the starter. Remove all but 1 generous cup of starter. Throw the old starter away. Add 4 - 4 1/2 cups each of bread or unbleached flour and Buttermilk and blend well. Cover and leave overnight. In the morning, transfer the starter back into the cleaned container and return to the refrigerator.


Baking bread from the early fall to the late spring is a relaxing and very enjoyable experience to say nothing of the nutritious quality and excellent flavor of this bread or of the joy that can come from the breaking of bread with another person.

Since the recipe will make four 1 1/2 lbs loaves, the sharing of an extra loaf or two with a friend or neighbor will extend the hand of friendship and build the bonds of human fellowship. Should you not be equipped or inclined to bake four loaves of bread at a time, simply cut the recipe in half and share the recipe.

Throughout the summer, when the baking of bread adds heat to an otherwise hot kitchen, this bread can be made in its four loaf version. Once the bread has sufficiently cooled, the extra loaves can be sliced, placed in a freezer bag and kept frozen until needed. This pre-slicing will provide for more immediate access. By making use of the replenishment methods given above, one can easily bake consistent quality bread during the hot summer months on an infrequent basis.

By purchasing dry yeast, Rosemary and honey in bulk form, one can easily cut the cost of making homemade bread. Bulk dry yeast and Rosemary can usually be found in most health or bulk food stores. The Rosemary can be kept in tightly fitted jars and placed in a cool, dark place. The yeast can be kept in a similar container and placed in the refrigerator door. Under these conditions, both can be kept for at least a year. Good flavorful honey can be found in bulk from any local beekeeper. With a little searching, one can find a good flavored honey at a reasonable price.

THE NIGHT BEFORE: Remove the starter from the refrigerator and place the contents in a large mixing bowl. Add two cups each of
bread or unbleached flour and Buttermilk. Mix thoroughly and cover. Leave out overnight for about 8 to 1O hours. In the morning, stir down the starter and mix thoroughly.

IN THE MORNING: In a small saucepan, heat the honey and melt the butter. heat 3 cups of milk in another saucepans. The ingredients in both pan should be slightly warm and not exceed 95 to 1O5 degrees. An accurate meat thermometer will insure proper temperatures.

MIX: In a 6 quart container, place 2 generous cups of the starter. Add the warm milk, honey, and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Add salt and yeast. Blend very well. Gradually add 6 cups of flour and mix thoroughly. Dust the counter space or table top or bread board with 1 -2 cups of flour, scrape out bread mixture onto the floured area; and dust the top of the dough mixture with another cup or two of flour.

KNEAD: Knead dough for approximately 1O minutes, adding enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the counter or table top or bread board. After 1O minutes of kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky and softly firm, as baby's bottom.

HEAT: Heat oven at 25O degrees for about 2 - 3 minutes. This
simple procedure will help incubate the dough at the needed
temperature and insure the rising of the bread dough to double in size with 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Turn off the oven.

PROOFING: In a cleaned 6 quart container, place several tablespoons of Olive or other good oil and coat both the sides and bottom of the pan. Place dough in the container and move the dough around and turn it upside down to insure the even coating of the bread dough. Cover the container and place it in the oven. The dough should "proof" with 1 3/4 to 2 hours.

COAT: Coat the 1 1/2 quart Pyrex baking dishes with a little Crisco. The use of glass baking dishes will permit the baking of the bread at 325 degrees - thus saving energy. Their use will also facilitate cleaning.

MAKE LOAVES: When the dough has doubled in height, remove the container from the oven. Dust the counter or table top or bread board, and transfer the dough onto the floured surface. Punch down completely and then divide the dough into four equal parts with each loaf weighing approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds. Shape each portion into a loaf and placed it in the coated baking dishes.

BRUSH: Brush each loaf with a little Olive or other good oil. This will insure a good, soft chewy crust. If you wish to have a harder crust, a glazed crust, etc. please consult your various bread books.

FINAL PROOFING: place baking dishes in the oven. Within 1 1/2 hours, the dough should have risen to twice its size with the top of the dough barely 1 - 2 inches above the sides of the dishes.

BAKE: Set temperature at 325 degrees, set timer for approximately 5O - 55 minutes and turn on oven. When the timer goes off, leave the oven on and remove the bread from the oven. Let the bread cool in the baking dishes for a minute and then remove the bread from the dishes and return them to the oven
Set the timer for about 1O minutes, turn the oven off and
let the bread remain in the oven until the timer goes off. This procedure will insure a better crust, especially on the sides and bottoms of the loaves.

Remove the breads from the oven, place on a cooling rack and
let them sit for several hours. Wrap cooled bread in 1 gallon plastic bags and tie shut.

If some of the loaves are headed for the freezer, let the
bread sufficiently cool down so that it can easily be sliced with a good bread knife.

This bread will not only freeze very well and but it will easily last for at least a week or more on the counter shelf, if kept tightly wrapped.


ROSEMARY BREAD: (My very favorite)

Add a heaping 1/4 cup of dried Rosemary leaves to the basic ingredients and blend well. The leaves will absorb enough moisture to make them soft, pliable, and easily eaten.

This is perhaps my favorite version of the Buttermilk Sourdough Breads I bake. Lightly toasted and well buttered, Rosemary bread is absolutely outstanding. Untoasted, this bread is very good and will go well with most cold cuts. A touch of ketchup on any untoasted sandwich will provide a very wonderful culinary delight.

Rosemary bread can also be used in the making of your favorite salmon loaf. Its addition provided my friend, Nancy and I with such a delightful treat that we only make a salmon loaf when we have some Rosemary bread available.

Another interesting version of Rosemary bread - in fact, the version that inspired the creation of this bread - will be found in Carol Field's THE ITALIAN BAKER. Panmarino is shaped into a round peasant loaf, the top slashed into a six sided star, and then topped with coarse sea salt.


Follow the same basic recipe, but substitute water for either all or at least 1/2 half of the milk and add an extra teaspoon of salt. If one wishes to make a French loaf, simply cut the recipe in half and make use of the Perforated French Bread Pan available from the company noted below.

In either its original version or in the Italian/French variation noted above, this Buttermilk Sourdough Bread will be exceptional both toasted and untoasted. In the Italian/French variation, this bread will go very well with soups, meats, cheeses and, of course, butter.


If you enjoy baking bread, THE ITALIAN BAKER by Carol Fields is not only a wonderful read, but an equally excellent addition to your culinary library.

Another source of excellent recipes will be found in BERNARD CLAYTON'S NEW COMPLETE BOOK OF BREADS. It also is a worthwhile edition to one's library.

Galamomof1's picture

Gala of Texas      

PaddyL what a lovely sounding bread. Has anyone used it in a wholewheat  sourdough bread?  Buttermilk is such a good tenderizer and flavor enhancer.  Love it.  Love it.

marketwoman51's picture

I don't drink buttermilk but I love using it in Banana Bread, Coffeecake etc.  I don't have lots of good experience baking yeast mom is the queen of bread in our family.  I've always used the bread machine through the first rise and then plopped it into the pan for baking in the oven.  I'm 52, remarried, no kids around, no busy schedule....I have time to learn how to make bread properly.  I made this starter last night and look forward to baking my first loaf next Saturday.

Thank you

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

I know this took awhile to type out for us, but I appreciate it and look forward to trying it soon.

PaddyL's picture

...I copied and pasted it from the Baking Circle.  It's a super starter, and makes super bread, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

PaddyL's picture

My nephew prefers ww bread to white, so I'm going to try some ww flour on Friday.  The starter is just fabulous, keeps on growing, and is very healthy, and the taste of this bread is simply magnificent.  I know I keep going on about it, but as a diabetic, I didn't think I'd ever be able to eat soft white bread on a regular basis again; this is a huge breakthrough for me!

Galamomof1's picture

Gala of Texas

I am now a Type-2 Diabetic and trying to maintaince good sugar levels with a good diet.  Hope you post your version of buttermilk sourdough whole wheat bread on TFL. I''l be watching for an new addition from PaddyL. 

basicliving's picture

Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I had buttermilk leftover from Christmas cooking and wondered if I could make a sour dough starter using it instead of milk. A google search brought me to your website, and this post. I started my starter this morning and can't wait to bake with it. Thanks again!

jenni47's picture

I made the starter last night....but im impatient and a wk seems forever...can i use some of it right away or will it not really be sourdough? thank you!

pmccool's picture

If you are going for an honest-to-goodness sourdough starter and if you just stirred the water/flour or juice/flour mixture together last night, you are about 7-10 days away from baking your first bread with it.  

A water/flour mixture goes through several stages.  Often there is an initial frothy (and maybe stinky) stage in which most of the activity is generated by bacteria.  The next stage tends to be dead quiet.  Many people mistakenly assume that there is no life left in it and give it the heave ho.  The third phase, typically somewhere between day 5 and day 7, begins when the starter's pH drops far enough to be hospitable to the yeasts.  This is when you start seeing a new crop of bubbles that are the result of yeast activity instead of bacterial activity.

Alternatively, you can use pineapple juice in place of the water and bypass phases 1 and 2.  The starter may well be ready for use around day 4.  Use the Search tool at the upper right hand side of this page to look for "pineapple juice solution" (minus the quotation marks) so that you can read Debra Wink's excellent explanation of how it works and how to use the process to get your starter going.

If you mixed water/flour/yeast together, which some cook book writers refer to as a starter, then you have something that many bakers would call a poolish or maybe a sponge.  In which case, you can bake with it today.


jenni47's picture

I did not get to see your answer earlier...Sorry for the belated thank you! I made it with honey not not sure if its the 'real' sour dough...I took part of the starter to make a loaf and it turned out well ...but tomorrow morning should be a truer test because its been a few days! Thank you for your explanation...I have made bread for many years but never with a starter...always just proofed yeast and then made it right I am ready for a challenge now that i have more time on my hands...hahaha jen

Earl's picture

Here's a loaf of Buttermilk Sourdough made with a Wharrison buttermilk type starter. It's the second loaf made with this starter. Starter is 2-3 months old.  I did a couple hour autolyze of 1 cup room temp. starter, 1 cup distilled warm water, and 1 cup bread flour. Then mixed together 2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 t. sea salt, 2 T. psyllium husk and dough enhancer, half cup potato flakes and a 1/4-1/2 cup more water. Mixed this with the autolyze, dumped it into a well oiled stainless steel bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let sit in warm place for maybe an hour. Then I folded the dough several times, ending in a ball which then went into an oil sprayed stainless steel bowl and let sit for a few hours covered with plastic warp. I left dough in the stainless steel bowl, then I baked in cold over at 450F for 25 minutes, tented it, then 350 for 20 minutes. Total from start to finish was about 7 hours. Bread was light and mild flavored.