Baking Bread: Sourdough French Bread

Making bread is fun!

That is certainly not what I used to think though! Working with yeast scared me. And working with sticky dough even more!

Today’s bake is a sourdough french bread that I could use to make garlic bread.

I found a recipe for Sourdough french bread at Taste of Home.

I owe a lot to Taste of Home magazine. Reading through this magazine and then trying the recipes that looked interesting (and a few of its fellow magazines like Simple and Delicious and Light and Tasty) is how I learned to cook.

I had no idea how to cook when I got married 14 years ago. Yes, you should feel bad for Josh. I had many disasters!

We’ve come a long way since then. And even Josh knows how to cook now. He’s been busy working overtime for the past week though so I’ve been trying to make yummy dinners for him when he gets home. Not today though. Today we are going to our nephew’s birthday party! And we are bringing garlic bread.

I started my dough around 10:30 AM today.

My dough is all ready to rise for the next hour and a half.

This is about 20 minutes into rising time. I turned my oven on to 250 degrees F for about 5 minutes so that the dough would have a happy place to rise.

This is my dough after an hour and a half. This is a beautiful thing to see!

The dough was a little bit sticky but not impossible to work with once I got it out of the bowl.

I’m still learning about how slashing dough works. I might not have slashed these deep enough. Also, the lower loaf is a bit odd-looking. Since the dough was a little sticky, I had a hard time shaping it the way I wanted.
One thing I learned that I definitely need: a bench knife.  The crinkle cutter just doesn’t get all the dough off the wooden table I use for making bread.

I ended up with gorgeous-looking loaves anyway! Instead of using a cornstarch wash as the recipe states, I just brushed the tops of the loaves with egg white.

This looks like a good crumb.
I think I was finished with the loaves by around 1:30 to 2 PM. Not too bad on time.

My boys were actually disappointed that I was turning these loaves into garlic bread! They wanted to eat it just like it was. In fact, they kept trying to finagle more slices to “taste test.”

This pic doesn’t show how soft these loaves are. After I sliced them in half, I wanted to pillow my head on them!
I spread on some butter and sprinkled garlic salt and grated parmesan on each half loaf. Hopefully, I didn’t go overboard with the garlic salt. I probably should have just gone with garlic powder! Two of my middle children didn’t mind the garlic salt though. They loved it. My oldest told me it was too salty. As long as the kids eat the bread, I’ll be happy. There will be 12 children (all family) at the party after all! That’s a lot of little mouths! That many children makes for a lot of fun. 🙂


Sourdough Pizza Crust – 3rd time!

I had two bowls of sourdough starter taking up space in my fridge, plus it is Friday! So what do I decide to make? Sourdough pizza crust using one bowl of sourdough starter!

Number one, I probably will not do this again when my oldest son has band practice (he plays the flute). It was at the wrong time of afternoon and I had to put off getting the crust into the pans because of it. Dinner ended up being at 6:30! That’s a little too late for us.

Number two, I don’t know why, but my family ate this crust up. There were no leftovers! The last time I made this crust there were leftovers.

I used the same recipe I did the last time: King Arthur Flour Sourdough Pizza Crust.

The things I changed:

  1. I used my own Pizza Dough seasoning.
  2. I doubled the recipe.

Pizza Dough seasoning

Pizza Dough Seasoning

Note: I used Penzey’s spices.

2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle

1/4 Tbsp roasted garlic seasoning

1/4 Tbsp toasted granulated onion

1/4 Tbsp Tuscan Sunset


This is my happy sourdough starter. I had an extra bowl of it in the fridge for when I wanted to make pizza crust again. I have to double the recipe for the pizza crust to feed all of us and that takes 2 cups of starter. If I used my main starter for this, I would have no starter left!


Because of the larger amount of pizza dough, I wasn’t able to use my KitchenAid mixer to knead the dough for me. I ended up kneading the dough by hand for about 15 minutes. I’m still not sure that was long enough either! It probably could have used another 5-10 minutes. I got a good arm workout today.


My pizza dough proofed for a VERY long time. Probably too long! I just was not able to get the dough into the pan when I wanted to. I started the dough around 10 and had it in the bowl to rise by about 11. I was going to try and get the dough into the pan around 2:45 to 3 but that didn’t work out (band practice was at 2:15). I had to wait until almost 4 to prepare the pans.


One of the pans of pizza dough ready to be baked. I pre-baked the crust for 8 minutes at 450 degrees F after brushing it with olive oil.

pizzaslice pizzawhole

After the pre-bake, I put the toppings on: pizza sauce, bacon, salami, provolone, mozzarella, and purple kale. Yes, kale! The pizza needed some green (and some purple too!) and that was all the green I had in the fridge that would work.

My suspicions on why these pizzas disappeared and my last ones didn’t:

  1. Everything tastes better with bacon. This is a fact.
  2. The kale? No, that can’t be it.
  3. The pizza dough seasoning?

I think I might have gone overboard with the garlic. The roasted garlic seasoning I used is VERY strong. I probably could have used half what I did.

The crust didn’t rise in the pans as much as I would have liked, but that’s okay. Since there were no leftovers, I guess the crust was good!

I was REALLY surprised that there were no complaints about the kale. At least, no complaints that I heard. My youngest son did ask “what are these black things?” though. He did eat it even after picking it off. I actually liked the kale on the pizza. It provided some leafy crispiness.

My pizza must always have bacon on it from now on. Always.


We have a Facebook page!  Visit it here: The Geek Homestead.






A Bread Post

Since I am trying to make all our bread now, I have to practice! Sometimes I’ve been successful and sometimes not. I also want to talk a little about how my sourdough starter has been doing!

We tried making homemade hot dog buns last week. They tasted good but they turned out flat. I think I know why though. I didn’t add enough flour to the dough. I’ve noticed that most of the time I have to add a lot more flour than is called for in the recipe to get to the texture that it is supposed to be. Maybe I am not measuring my flour properly. The dough for the hot dog buns ended up so sticky that it was impossible to work with. At least now we know what to do for next time!

On Saturday, we had homemade pizza. I doubled the recipe and still didn’t feel like it was enough crust. I think I might have messed up on my timing with this though. The dough needed to rest and rise longer in the  pan. I did use my sourdough starter as most of the raising agent so that probably contributed to the longer rising time.  The pizza was good though and had a great crust because yesterday we ate up the rest of it (and I guess it was enough crust!)

One pizza for Josh and me
One pizza for Josh and me in a deep-dish 10 x 13 pan

One for the kids!
One for the kids! They only ate half of this pizza on Saturday, but they gladly ate the rest of it for lunch on Monday!
One bad thing about making bread in the afternoon to be used as part of dinner: Dinner ends up being late!  We usually eat around 5 PM, but because of my bad timing, we have been eating around 6 to 6:30 PM lately.

I also made crackers again with my sourdough starter last week and of course, the crackers were all gone by the end of the day. My kids seemed to be addicted to them. I do need to figure out how to roll the dough out thinner though. The middle ends up too thick and doesn’t get crispy when baked. I am considering splitting the dough in half and rolling out smaller portions to get the thinner dough.

So my sourdough starter is still alive and happy. I have it out on the counter right now so I can feed it before I go to bed. We also went out to a warehouse grocery store after Josh got home from work today and I needed the fridge space! So out came the starter to sit on the counter overnight.

Yesterday, dinner was late again because I was making hamburger buns from scratch. I think if I had started the dough around 1 PM like I had been planning that I would have been okay, but no, I was a little bit scared of making burger buns from scratch and was actually trying to think of something else to make for dinner! In the end, I started my dough around 2 to 3 PM. I will say that making hamburger buns from scratch isn’t easy!  I used a recipe from one of my newer cookbooks, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Buttermilk Oat Hamburger Buns. It uses some good for you ingredients: old-fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, honey. I think there were 3 times that I had to let it sit for around a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes of resting/proofing.

Josh got a picture of me rolling out the dough balls. This was the fun part because I was almost done!
Josh got a picture of me rolling out the dough balls. This was the fun part because I was almost done!

I put the dough balls on baking sheets to rest for 45 minutes.
I put the dough balls on baking sheets to rest for 45 minutes.

The hamburger buns in the oven.
The hamburger buns in the oven.

After baking, the buns were a nice golden color.
After baking, the buns were a nice golden color. I couldn’t resist tapping some of them on their bottoms to hear the hollow sound.

Here is my burger!
Here is my burger: mushrooms, red onion, and provolone on a thick beef patty!
I know these buns must have tasted good because my youngest boy ate one without a burger in it, and my oldest boy asked if he could have another bun (no burger) after he had finished his first burger.

Follow-up Post: Crackers from Scratch

This morning, we made the second batch of crackers! This turned into a family event. 🙂 All five of my kids were in the kitchen watching while Corran helped me roll out and season the crackers. They were also very excited to eat up the results!

This may end up being a regular event. It makes a great snack for my kids and it gets them in the kitchen to learn how to bake!

These turned out much crisper than yesterday's batch. I think the next time I do this though, I will follow the recipe's suggestion of turning off the oven and leaving the crackers in there to crisp up more after baking.
These turned out much crisper than yesterday’s batch. I also used more salt and added rosemary to the herb blend. I think the next time I do this though, I will follow the recipe’s suggestion of turning off the oven and leaving the crackers in there to crisp up more after baking.

This is about 1 minute after the crackers were cool enough to eat.
This is about 1 minute after the crackers were cool enough to eat.

Crackers from Scratch?

I think the Great British Bake-off is influencing what I make, because today I made crackers from scratch. I have never done this before so this was a kitchen experiment. I found a recipe for Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers at The Fresh Loaf. It looked simple and it used whole wheat flour, which appealed to me.

I had to start very close to over with my sourdough starter because of gnats getting into my main starters. Fortunately, I had a reserve starter in the fridge that I could build up. I did the discard starter step twice yesterday and was able to get one cup of starter to use for crackers. You can never have too many uses for starter! Sometime soon I need to try making crumpets again.

Simple ingredients: whole wheat flour, starter, butter, salt, and herbs
I started out mixing the dough with a spatula

Eventually, I used my hands to work the dough and incorporate the butter. At first, the dough stuck to my hands, but after about five minutes, I had a stiff dough ball and very little dough on my hands.

I tried to impress my son Ian with my dough ball. He wasn’t impressed.

Once I had a dough ball, the dough needed to rest for three hours. Three hours is a long time so I fed my kids lunch and made croutons from some bread that was in the fridge.

I brushed bread cubes with olive oil and sprinkled them with lavender pepper and sea salt.
7 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. I had to stop myself from eating them all.
I could have done a better rolling job.

I thought I had the dough rolled out thin enough but I think tomorrow I will try to roll out the other batch even thinner.

I used a pastry cutter (I think it is a pastry cutter. I could be very wrong.) with scalloped edges to make the cuts.
These took a little less than 30 minutes to bake.

After they came out of the oven, I had a hard time keeping Josh and my oldest son Corran away from them long enough to cool. Once they had cooled enough, the crackers snapped off right at the cuts. I think there could have been more “snap” so that is why I will try rolling the dough out thinner tomorrow.

This is the seasoning I used. I should have used more than I did.

It was nice not having an overly salty cracker but my oldest said it needed more seasoning. I think I will try using the sandwich sprinkle along with rosemary and coarse salt tomorrow. My oldest son has already volunteered to help me roll out the dough.

It didn’t take long for the crackers to disappear.

By dinner cleanup time, all the crackers were gone. I would say this is worth it to make. It uses starter, kids love it, and it doesn’t take forever to make though it does take a bit of planning with the 3 hour rest time.

Note: I posted this from my phone so the formatting is very off on this post. I’m not sure if I will post from my phone again!