The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

recipe to try in Ed Wood's "Classic Sourdoughs"

hullaf's picture

recipe to try in Ed Wood's "Classic Sourdoughs"

I just bought Ed Wood's book, Classic Sourdoughs and find the reading interesting. I want to try his method and one of his recipes. Can anyone recommend one that they've especially liked? I've got a whole wheat stiff starter in the works, it's active and growing well and would like to use that instead of my usual white one. Thanks, Anet

nbicomputers's picture

when i hear or read the name Ed Wood the first thing thats comes into my head is


nothing to do with baking and i do hope the people that read this get it

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm not familiar with his book but I did go over to youtube and look up:  Ed Wood.  Now I know what Norm is writing about.  1955 is the year my parents were married.

Think we could crank out a loaf  "Bride of Sourdough" or  "It's a Sourdough You Can't Imagine!"  "Sourdough Snatchers from Outer Space" as tribute?

Mini O

hullaf's picture

Norm, when I first read your response, I got a little "ticked" . . . but then Mini Oven clued me in to the truth! (Thanks Mini - I hardly know what youtube is!) I laughed after seeing some of those Hollywood Ed Wood films -- and yes, stupid, but, maybe, just a little cute? Come on, smile? So, I still want to know has anyone read this book, what do you think, have you tried anything? I am trying the basic sourdough batter bread (Bride of Dracula?) as we speak from some leftover starter. It's a baking day -- feeding my other two starters to give them a buzz start,  trying Wild Yeast's hamburger buns from a pre-ferment to go with chuck roast slow cooker BBQ, and a "torta della nonna" with polenta and custard and pine nuts. (that one for sure is an experiment) Thanks for the laugh, Anet  

nbicomputers's picture

Im glad you finaly got it. it was a line fron what was voted the worst movie of all time and if you ever get the chance to see "Plan 9 from outer space" then you will know it lives up to that the title of the worst movie of all time.

VERY VERY glad your not mad.

gavinc's picture

I have the book and read it when I was just getting into sourdoughs a few years ago.  It has it's place for background theory, but it's contradicted by many.  I didn't have much success with the recipes, although at the time I thought they were good.  I moved on to Hamelman's Bread book and haven't looked back as the recipes produce much better results, taste, crumb, volume and much better methods.  I purchased some starters from Ed Wood's and they are still in use and very good - but I use Hamelman's recipes and methods for the reasons stated.  I found that within the book I got confused as some sections give different instructions about starter maintenance from other sections and they were also different from the instructions that came with the starters.

I recommend you get another book to balance with Ed Wood's.



hullaf's picture

Thanks for the suggestions, 'babmuna' and 'gavinc'. I have Hamelman's book and it is my best used book for many of my breads. I just wrote about a multigrain bread on my TFL blog about a recipe from it with using my usual whole wheat sourdough starter. But . . . I did just buy a starter from Wood's to see if I can get a more sour sourdough starter going. And to just experiment with sourdough more. I think I will try some of the "Classic Sourdough" recipes to get them "under my belt" and then apply them to my usual breads. I also want to try making my own pita so thanks for the idea of that recipe. This will take me months to bake and experiment - but that's okay!   Anet

baltochef's picture

The problem that I have with Mr. Wood's purchased cultures is that I do not believe that it is possible to grow one of his sourdough cultures here in Baltimore, MD (any place outside of where they originate) without it eventually becoming cross-contaminated with local bacteria and yeasts that are in the air..His procedures seem awfully elaborate to me..I have both of his books, as well as 3-4 other books on sourdough breads..

My first sourdough culture, which I used to bake my first ever two loaves of bread at the age of 14, came from putting flour and water into a stoneware crock, stirring it with a wooden spoon, and covering the mouth of the crock with a cotton tea towel held in 0place with a big rubber band..After each use it was replenished with more flour and water..

Simple is as simple does. as Forrest Gump would say


ehanner's picture

It is ironic that one who lives in the area that claims the exclusive and elusive bacteria can only be found in their air, is convinced that he can purchase this same culture from a source in the mid west.

I would suggest Peter that science and not marketing is what makes great bread. The absolute worst loaf of sourdough I have ever gagged on came from one of the largest bakeries in the Bay area. Regardless of the hype, vinegar isn't part of the staff of life.

Woods is selling something that is freely available in your local grocery store. That is, a natural bacteria that comes in the bag of whole grain flour. The location of the culture has little to do with the flavor of the bread as has been shown repeatedly. One has available the components to feed the culture a number of things that will change the population and thus the flavor of the bread. Also, the general environment or temperature of the living population will affect which bacteria thrive and which do not.

Starting up a starter is NOT the hard part. Nurturing it every day as the living thing it is, feeding it to encourage the lactic acid producing life forms, now THAT is the hard and time consuming part.


mlgriego's picture

Ok, well this is a lively thread.  I first started into sourdough after finding Ed Wood's first book which I found interesting.  I have baked yeast breads since middle school and wanted to get away from commercial yeast.  I admit I have purchased many of his cultures which have performed differently and the flavor of some is markedly stronger, more tangy.  I baked some really nice breads during this time in Tucson which my co-workers ate as fast as I could bake.  I used many of the recipes in this book with my own twist since I am partial to whole grain breads.  His durum sunflower bread is one of my all time favorites.

Eric, thanks for the nudge to try it on my own because that is really what I wanted to begin with and did not find this wonderful resource back then.  I will keep my SF culture going because it has always performed beautifully.

I do want to capture my own wild yeast and see how I do with that. I have concerns about the care and feeding since I work full time and love to quilt as much as I love to bake my own bread plus my husband wants me on the back of our tandem more often. I have found the cultures I purchased from sourdo to hold up very well even after very extended periods of neglect using his method of "cleaning" the culture.  What I am looking for from this group is how to move beyond this and be able to utilize the formulas many of you have shared.  Just as with my other passion of quilting I find there are many ways to get the same result and we all have our perferences - not wrong just different:-)

I have not yet purchased Hamelman's book but it is on my list (gotta stop buying fabric and quilting books for awhile!).  I do have Peter Reinhart's two new books pre-ordered on amazon because I love his work and I sat down with BBA last night to reread a lot of the initial information.

Thanks for all the great information on this forum.

Melody in Santa Fe (at the office now)

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Seeing Mr. Woods name and book mentioned several times on the Fresh Loaf site, I decided to order his Sourdough book, along with some of his starters. Have not activated them yet, so my comments here are about his book and methods.

After a brief review, what is clearly different are his methods. Almost 180 degrees different. How?

Hydration: If I'm doing my math right, the maintenance regime he advocates by adding 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup water to 1 cup of starter is 140% hydration.....a "wet" starter that is vastly different from the 1:2:2, 1:2:3 and 1:3:5 firm starters I frequently see mentioned here. And this he says can be kept for months in the fridge.

Temps: As per Mr. Woods, sour comes from a high proofing temperature. High temp (80*F plus) = sour. Below 70*F will leaven more, but not be sour. The bacteria responsible for acid and "sour" grow at the higher temps, to the detriment of the yeasts. The yeasts do better at lower temps to the detriment of the bacteria. A compromise being 12 to 18 hour ferments at room temps. He mentions long, low temp proofs as used by commercial bakers (for convenience) and this technique as been picked up on by artisan bakers as an unneccessary technique to promote "sour". Thought a bunch of you would find this amusing.......or maybe not. : )

Active starters will be frothy/bubbly.......again, an apparent product of "wet" hydration.

He flat out states it's the symbiosis of the starter culture (bacteria and yeast).......not location that is unique to the culture. They wil travel with no harm.

Beyond that, I notice his techniques use large quantities (cups) vs. small (teaspoons or better yet, grams). His techniqes are going to generate whopping amounts of starter.

In short, there are a lot of variables and moving parts that come together to make a good loaf of sourdough bread, including, but not limited to: starter culture, hydration, storage and revival, temperatures, flours,  and  lastly recipes, including hydration levels and handling and baking techniques. I think it's safe to say all that is matter which techniques you decide to follow.

Having said all that, his processes are simple. Don't know if they will work or not, but I'll be giving them a try. I suspect that a lot of folks here will not go along with his ideas or his starters, but until I find out otherwise, I'm going to keep an open mind. I figure anyone who has written books, sells starters and maintains a website for this sole purpose must know something of value.



HMerlitti's picture

Sorry about the late response.  I just read Ed Wood's book, bought his SFO starter, baked per instructed several times, and have realized a few things.


#1.   Ed Wood, being the grand professor that he probably is,  cannot write or teach.   He is unable to put himself in the position of the student so that he will know what and how to communicate.   Just read his book as observe his instructions.   You will come away with many questions. 

He reminds me of one of my electronics professors that silently puts formulas on the board and says, "see, that is how it works.  Test next class"

He does not primarily measure in weights and he confines his thinking around a canning jar.

Fortunately I have been baking bread for many years and have exprience with my own sourdough starter and have attended the SFBI level II class.

#2.     That being said, I baked with his starter several times and conducted taste tests and in each case the taster identified the bread taste as SFO sourdough bread.  So, that was great !!!.

#3.   I have deviated from his instruction for 8-12 hour periods for proofing.  These deviation produced no perceptible difference in results.

What could be further explored however is the 8-12 hour period of fermenting at different temperatures.   He seems to be onto something there. 

My guess is that if you want to change the sourness of the bread, modify the percentage of fermented starter per four content.