Sourdough Baking: from Sift Magazine

Sourdough baking: it captures the imagination like no other form of recipe. There’s a particular kind of magic to watching a sourdough starter come alive, with the power to raise dough and create a flavorful, tangy loaf.

The perfect sourdough bread is the holy grail for bakers: crusty on the outside, with a generous open crumb, and a hearty, fermented flavor. No other loaf is as compelling, or creates so much curiosity, as sourdough baked at home.

We know you’re fascinated, in love with, scared of, and compelled to try sourdough. You ask us about this subject more than any other, and we have a lot of information to share with you. Our sourdough guide, for one. And our posts on making your own starter and maintaining your starter are two of the most heavily visited on our website.

In the Spring issue of Sift, we take a comprehensive look at baking with sourdough, from how to know when your starter is ready to bake with (stay tuned for an upcoming post on this one) to a full range of recipes for all skill levels. Join us as we show you some inspirational ways to tap into this wondrous, taste-making leavener.sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Rustic Sourdough

Let’s start with the basics. Rustic Sourdough is a yeast-assisted loaf that can be made with starter only, if you have the time. Either way, it bakes up to a crusty, tangy loaf that’s great for sandwiches, and serves as a tasty base for any kind of tartine you’d care to build on top.

 Sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Fig and Walnut Sourdough

A bit of tang, a bit of crunch, a burst of sweetness. Fig and Walnut Sourdough is a Sunday-go-to-meeting sort of bread, wonderful for leisurely Sunday breakfasts, on a cheese board, or as a treat for company.

sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Onion and Bay Loaf

All the comforting flavors of a well-made bechamel come to life in this soft, alluring sandwich bread. After steeping diced onions and bay leaves in milk, ripe sourdough starter joins the party. The recipe makes a generous loaf, and the dough is also excellent for unforgettable dinner rolls.

sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Rye Levain Pumpernickel (Sourdough Pumpernickel)

There are many ways to capitalize on the flavorful qualities of rye. This loaf is nicely balanced between tangy and slightly sweet, with a tender crumb. It makes excellent sandwiches, or shines by itself simply toasted, with some melted cheese on top.

sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Sourdough Honey Quinoa Bread

A nubby loaf that makes amazing protein-packed whole grain sandwiches. Try your first slice toasted with a little butter and jam, to get to know its wholesome character. Then branch out to satisfying sandwich delights.sourdough baking via@kingarthurflour

Rustic Olive Rolls

Crusty on the outside, studded with chunks of briny, rich olives, these rolls have plenty of personality to match robust sandwich fillings or cheese. When cut smaller, they’re terrific in the dinner roll basket.

Once you’ve made friends with sourdough baking, you’ll find it will be the beginning of many a great meal.

sourdough baking via@kingarthurflourCome celebrate spring with us, and pick up your copy of Sift (if you haven’t yet). It only gets more delicious from here.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Janice Beaton

    I found a recipe to make my own wild yeast sourdough starter. The process recommends placing my water/flour mixture under a bush or tree outside at a minimum 70F degree temperature. I live in Florida so the temp issue should not be a problem. I have two questions for you.

    Will it make a difference fermenting my starter outside or on top of my refrigerator?

    Are you familiar with the theory that fermented/sourdough bread is more easily digested by those with gluten intolerance?

    Thank you in advance for your help! I am so excited to start making my bread!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi, Janice! We’ve found that creating a starter indoors works very well and haven’t tried placing the starter outside during the creation phase. You could certainly try keeping your starter outside but keep in mind that if it is too warm the starter will ferment very quickly. We would also suggest that you make sure there is a good lid on your starter to keep any unwanted debris or unexpected guests out. While we have heard that school of thought on gluten intolerant folks being able to eat sourdough, we aren’t dieticians so we would suggest talking to your doctor or nutritionist to see if that would work for your diet or needs. We hope this helps! Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Lynn Scott

    I received the King Arthur Flour sourdough crock and starter as well as the KAF ceramic bread baking cloche for Christmas. Yesterday I got my starter going, got up this morning, saw that it was working vigorously, so I made one of the recipes posted on KAF: the Sourdough Boule. It rose magnificently, so I placed it in my cloche and now an hour later my husband and I are eating some of the best bread either one of us has put in our mouths. Baking in the cloche gives bread a wonderful, thick, crunchy top and bottom crust. Although I have made yeasted breads for years, this is my first foray into baking sourdough products. Tomorrow morning I am making the KAF recipe for sourdough waffles using my “throwaway” starter. I am a believer!

  3. Deb

    Bought KA sourdough starter last year, and after some initial trial and error, now bake great loaves every week. The family also loves sourdough pretzels. The key ingredient for sourdough is patience, but it is so worth the wait! I’ll try that fig and walnut loaf recipe soon, it looks amazing!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Good for you, Deb! We would add that practice is also important. The more you bake with sourdough, the more confident you get! Susan

  4. Maureen

    I was given a small amount of a sourdough starter (believe originated in 1979). Because of illness and death in my family, I never used it. It sits in a jar in back of my refrigerator. Is it still OK to use? If so, how? Thanks.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Maureen, that depends how long it’s been in the frige. First, check to see that it doesn’t smell like nail polish. If it does, or has any red or orange mold on it, throw it out. If it’s separated with a gray layer of liquid on top, and smells like alcohol, it’s likely ok to rejuvenate. Stir the liquid back into the starter, discard all but 4 ounces, and feed it according to the directions in our sourdough guide. Susan

  5. Marianne Gill

    I would love to obtain a copy of the sourdough issue of Sift magazine. How would I order it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marianne, you may be able to find this issue of Sift at your local grocery store or bookstore, but if you can’t find it locally, you can purchase Sift through our website, with no shipping charge on this item. Barb@KAF

    2. Marianne Gill

      Thanks Barb. Our grocery store sadly lacks in the magazine department. I’ll look for it on your website.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Reta, Sift magazine is available at many grocery stores and bookstores, but if you can’t find it locally, you can order Sift through our online catalog, with no shipping charge on this item. Barb@KAF

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