• Author: Loretta


After making several batches of sourdough bread, researching and reviewing numerous recipes, here’s a recipe that works for me. It’s an adaptation of my original bread machine bread and contains some commercial yeast. It doesn’t have a strong sourdough taste, but it is a high-rising, softly textured loaf.

If you’re just starting to learn how to develop a sourdough starter, it will take 7 days before it’s ready to use in a bread recipe. Here’s a summary of the sourdough starter process:

Key points: 1) Don’t use metal mixing spoons; wooden or silicone are needed. 2) When you “feed” your starter, mix the flour and water, then add to starter and mix it in well. 3) Refrigerate the starter removed at each feeding. It can be used right away in baked goods such as muffins, pancakes, etc.

Day 1: To begin the starter: Mix ½ cup flour and 1/3 cup water (filtered or let chlorine evaporate overnight)

Place the mixture in a clean quart jar or glass container. Cover the top with either a paper towel or cheese cloth. Your starter will sit at room temperature for up to 12 days.

Day 2: Your starter may or may not be “working.” If there are no bubbles, allow the starter to sit another 24 hours. If you do see bubbles on day 2, add ½ cup flour and 1/3 cup water, mix well.

Day 3: By now (48 hours after first mixing) you should see bubbles starting to form in the starter. Remove ½ cup of the starter and refrigerate it. Then add ½ cup flour mixed with 1/3 cup water.

Days 4-5-6 – Feed your starter 1x/day by removing ½ cup starter and replacing with ½ cup flour mixed with 1/3 cup water.

Day 7: You can remove ½ cup starter and use in a bread recipe or other types of recipes. Feed the starter as usual.

Day 8-12: You can begin feeding your starter 2x/day. By day 12, you will have an active, healthy starter. Refrigerate it and feed it no less than 1x/week. You may use a portion of this starter to begin a second starter, using the same feeding method and time frame.



Sourdough white bread:

1 cup water, warmed to between 105 to 110 degrees (Fahrenheit)

1/3 cup milk

3/4 teaspoon yeast

½ cup sourdough starter (at room temperature)

1/3 cup sugar, honey or maple syrup

3 ½ – 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I recommend Himalayan pink salt)3 tablespoons of melted butter or oil


Using hot tap water, warm measuring cup for the liquid and bread machine canister. Use hot tap water for the 1 cup water; dissolve your sweetener in the water. Add the milk.

Check the temperature of the liquid. You want it to be between 105 and 110. If it’s less than that, warm it up. If it’s over 112 degrees it will kill the yeast, so cool it down.

Once your liquid is in the desired temperature range, dissolve the yeast in it. Allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes.

While the yeast is activating, measure and mix the flour and salt. Prepare the butter/oil. Butter can be melted or chopped.

Remove the hot water from your bread machine canister; add the yeast mixture, flour mixture, sourdough and butter. Mix/knead cycles (2 of them) should be no less than 10 minutes and not longer than 15 minutes. Between these cycles, allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

Coat an 8.5×4.5 bread pan; gently shape the dough and lay it in the pan. Cover with a light cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place (oven is ideal) for 30 minutes. You can allow it to raise for up to 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes and enjoy!


If you’re looking for a recipe for 100% sourdough, no commercial yeast, stay tuned – my test loaves are in the oven!



Did you know there’s one simple tool that could revolutionize your bread baking forever?

that tool? It’s a digital thermometer.


If you’re thinking that the last thing that you need in your kitchen is another tool, no worries. Digital thermometers are generally about the length of an everyday spoon and less than 2 inches wide.


When it comes to cost, some digital thermometers cost as little as $5.

So how will this simple tool make help you improve your bread baking? By verifying the temperature of the liquid used to dissolve your yeast. At a temperature range between 105- and 110-degrees (Fahrenheit), yeast thrives and produces a light, high-rising loaf of bread. Once your liquid falls within this temperature range, you can be certain your yeast won’t be killed by liquid that’s too hot. You’ll also know that it’s warm enough to start working in your dough once you’ve combined all the ingredients.


If you use an instant-read thermometer, it will take you about two seconds to check the liquid temperature. If you opt to use a less expensive model, it may take up to 10 seconds. The step adds very little time to your bread baking process and contributes greatly to the quality of your loaf.


So, what kind of digital thermometers should you use in baking bread? There are numerous types to consider.


  1. The least costly digital thermometer that I’ve come across, $5.49, will work just fine for this task. Since it’s being used for a few seconds each time, it’s likely to last for many years.
  2. Higher priced digital thermometers range from $10 to more than $30. The one I currently use cost $13 and has worked just fine for the past two years. If I find I need to replace it, I will try the less costly option to see how it holds up.
  3. Instant-read thermometers are very convenient, but much more costly. Prices often begin at the $80 range. While the convenience is nice, it’s not necessary to accomplish the task of verifying the liquid temperature.


If you’ve never used a digital thermometer in your kitchen before, you may find that you like it and can justify paying a higher price for one. It’s all a matter of personal preference.


Whichever model you select, I highly recommend implementing the practice of checking your liquid’s temperature, especially if you’ve struggled to produce satisfactory loaves of bread. This step, in combination with the use of a bread machine, took my bread baking results from disappointing to amazing.


And what role did the bread machine play? Since the mixing and kneading take place in a canister, you can warm the canister before placing your ingredients inside it. This helps maintain that ideal temperature range you set up by checking your recipe liquid. Your bread dough will start at an ideal temperature range and remain there until it’s baked in the bread machine or, you prepare it for the final rise to bake in your oven.


If you decide to bake the bread in your oven, warm your bread pan before coating it and placing the dough in it. Complete the final rise inside your warmed oven (just don’t leave the oven on during the rise time) or in an area where you can manage the temperature to help keep it warm (90-100 degrees is ideal).

Homemade Stuffing Mix


Homemade Stuffing Mix

  • Author: Loretta


Stuffing mix is often a welcome side dish, especially during cooler weather. This homemade stuffing mix recipe is as easy as adding herbs to your favorite white bread recipe (or using the Bread Machine Herbed Bread recipe found at and cubing or shredding it with a grater to make stuffing mix.


If you use my Herbed Bread recipe, you can follow the recipe or choose the herbs you prefer. And Herbed Bread isn’t just useful for making stuffing. It is a tasty addition to nearly any soup or delicious all by itself with plenty of butter!


To dry my herbed bread, I sliced it, placed it on a baking sheet and baked it at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. If you wish, you can cube the bread, then dry it in the oven. Set your oven temperature at 350 degrees and bake it for about 15 minutes. Check on the cubes during the drying time to ensure they aren’t getting too crispy.


After drying the bread (with whichever method you prefer), allow it to thoroughly cool before storing it. Once mine cooled, I broke it up in small pieces and simply stored it in a wide-mouth canning jar ad found a place for it in my pantry. It needs no refrigeration. Once dried, it should keep for up to a year (maybe longer, but it’s not likely to last nearly that long).


If you shred your dried bread with a grater or food processor, you can also store it at room temperature. Just make sure your seal is tight, so it doesn’t collect any moisture.



1 loaf dried Herbed Bread, cubed or shredded

(find herbed bread recipe at

1/3 cup minced onion

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes (optional)

1 ¼ cups water or chicken broth

3 cups stuffing mix

3 Tablespoons butter


If preparing the stuffing on the stove top, saute the onions in the butter until they are soft. Continue with the recipe instructions.


The herbed bread can be dried or fresh. If using a fresh loaf, cut it into 1-inch cubes. When the loaf is fresh, gradually add water/chicken broth as it will require less liquid.


Prepare onion; blend pepper, salt and parsley flakes. In large bowl, mix the bread and liquid well. If the bread seems too dry, gradually add more liquid ¼ cup at a time until it’s well moistened. Blend in remaining ingredients.


If preparing as stove top stuffing, use low heat to warm the stuffing mix. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If necessary, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water to keep it from sticking to the pan. Once it’s thoroughly heated, it’s ready to use.


To bake the stuffing as a side dish on its own, preheat the oven at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). Bake in a covered dish for 30 minutes; stir it at 15 minutes to ensure its evenly heated.


Adding this one small step to your bread baking method will give you the lightest, tastiest bread you’ve ever made!

And the secret: warm your recipe liquid to a temperature range between 105 and 110 degrees (Fahrenheit) before you dissolve your recipe sweetener and yeast in it. Keep it warm by warming your bread machine canister with hot water before adding the recipe ingredients. Maintain a warm temperature throughout the mixing and kneading process so that the yeast has an ideal environment and produces a satisfactory rise.

Why use this temperature range? Because yeast thrives in this condition. There are numerous websites for commercial yeasts and breads that confirm the importance of warming liquids to this range for traditional bread recipes. If you’re seeing recipes that call for cooler temps, they’re talking about artisan breads and sourdough recipes.

Some of those sites call for cooler liquid temperatures when you’re using a bread machine. However, that has not been my experience. Whenever I’m baking bread, I warm my liquids to a temperature range of 105 to 110 before dissolving my sweetener and yeast in it. If your liquid is more than 115 degrees, it will likely kill the yeast. I come as close as possible to the 110-degree mark, not going over 112.

One caution: this method will not work if you use a delay setting on a bread machine. However, using this method, you can mix and knead your dough in the bread machine, bake in the oven, and produce a gorgeous loaf of bread in under 2 hours. (See the recipe at the end)

To warm my water, I use the hottest tap water from my faucet. My sweetener is typically refrigerated maple syrup, which cools the water to nearly the right temperature.

My first step in preparing bread dough to go into my bread machine is to measure my hot tap water into a measuring cup, thoroughly mix in the syrup, then check the water temperature. If it’s too warm, I give it a minute or two to cool, then add the yeast, stirring it to thoroughly dissolve it.

I then fill my bread machine canister with hot water so it’s warm by the time the yeast mixture is ready. It takes a couple of minutes to measure my flour and salt. By then, my yeast mixture is activated and ready to add to my bread machine canister.

The rest of the recipe directions are found in this go-to recipe I use every time I bake. You can use your favorite bread recipe, too. Just integrate the yeast activation method and warm your utensils – even the measuring cup and bread pan if your house is really cool – and keep your dough warm and comfortable until it’s ready for the oven.



2-3 quart mixing bowl

2-cup measuring utensil


Measuring cups, from ¼-cup size on up to 1-cup

Whisk or fork

Digital thermometer

Bread machine

Bread pan


Butter, oil or no-stick spray to coat breadpan



1 ¼ cups water, ranging from 105 to 109degrees

1 ½ teaspoons yeast

¼ cup sugar, honey or maple syrup


1 Tablespoon gluten

3 ½ cups 100% whole wheat flour (I recommend white wheat for the flavor)

1 ½ teaspoons salt (recommend Himalayan pink salt)

2 Tablespoons of melted butter or oil


If necessary (typically during the winter months), use hot tap water to heat your measuring utensil and bread machine canister before preparing your bread dough. This usually takes just a few minutes once the hot water is placed in the utensil. Once you’re ready to use them, pour the water out.

Place 1 ¼ cups of hot tap water in 2-cup measuring utensil. If you’re using refrigerated syrup or honey, it will significantly cool the water’s temperature. Once you’ve added the sweetener, and stirred it thoroughly to blend it with the water, check the water’s temperature. If it’s too cold, heat it (microwave or stove top) to the appropriate temperature (105-110 degrees); if too hot, allow it to cool for a few minutes. Once the mixture is within the desired temperature range, add the yeast and stir to dissolve it.

Allow the yeast mixture to rest for 3-5 minutes. It will form a foamy “head” to indicate that the yeast is activated.

While you wait for the yeast, blend your dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, measure flour, gluten and salt. Sift the ingredients together using a whisk or a fork.

If using butter, melt it just till it’s soft enough to easily blend into the bread dough.

Once your yeast mixture is ready, pour out the water used to heat the bread machine canister. Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the pan, using a spatula to clear the measuring cup. Slowly add the flour mixture to the canister. Pour the oil or melted butter on top of the flour. Select your machine settings and start the mixing/kneading process.

Once the initial kneading/mixing is complete, allow the dough to rest in the bread machine pan until the second kneading cycle is completed.

Before the second cycle completes, prepare your bread pan. If necessary, warm the pan before coating it (spraying with non-stick product, insert parchment, etc.).

Once the second kneading cycle is done, gently place the dough into the coated bread pan, cover it and place it in a warm area (I use my oven, which I heat to close to 80 degrees). It will take 30-45 minutes for the dough to raise.

Once the dough is raised, place it in a pre-heated 350-degree (Fahrenheit) oven to bake for 30-45 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and immediately place on a cooling rack. Try to give it some time to cool before you cut any slices!

Once it’s completely cooled, store the bread in a plastic bag or bread keeper. In summer, home-made bread quickly spoils and should be refrigerated or frozen once it’s cooled.

All this information, many more bread baking tips, plus 4 additional recipes are available in my book, “Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever!” You’ll find a link to purchase the book on my Welcome page and also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. My weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, and on Pinterest and Facebook. Happy baking!