How to Convert a Regular Recipe to Sourdough

Sometimes I find a yummy bread recipe (this could be muffins, sandwich bread, tortillas, etc) and decide I want to try it out, but I’d also like to find a way to make it a little healthier.

There are a few options for achieving that goal: replace the sugar with a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup, or convert the recipe to sourdough.

How exactly do you change a regular recipe to a sourdough recipe? This is something I asked myself many times. The solution seemed very daunting, so I put it off for so long. But one day I decided that I was going to figure this out so I could make any recipe I wanted into sourdough.

Here’s how to convert a regular recipe to sourdough.

The Basics

  • 100 grams of sourdough starter = 5 to 7 grams of instant/dry yeast (this would be one packet).
  • Sourdough starter is a liquid, so the amount of liquids in a recipe must be decreased by 1 cup when you convert it to a sourdough recipe.
  • Reduce the amount of flour by 1 cup.
  • Fermentation time is doubled compared to a regular bread recipe.

These are the basic principles to converting recipes to sourdough, but each recipe requires some unique adjustments. Trust me, if you follow these guidelines and practice, you will soon understand how to make any recipe into sourdough!

Why Would I Want to Convert a Recipe to Sourdough?

Sourdough is a fermented food, making it impressively nutritious. Your sourdough bread breaks down proteins as it ferments. This breakdown results in amino acids that are so much easier for your body to digest. Read more about this process and the benefits here.

Converting A Yeast Recipe to Sourdough

This includes traditional breads that call for yeast.

The Basics:

  • Replace one packet of yeast with 100 grams of sourdough starter.
  • Reduce the flour by 1 cup.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid by 1 cup.
  • Allow to ferment and rise for 8-24 hours.

Example:

Original RecipeSourdough Conversion
2 1/4 tsp of yeast (1 packet)replaced with 100 grams of fed sourdough starter
2 1/4 cups of warm waterchanged to 1 1/8 cups of warm water (cut in half)
1/4 cups of raw honeyremoved the honey
2 TBS coconut oilremoved the coconut oil
6 cups of flourchanged to 5 cups of flour

I decreased all the liquid items by 1 cup total (give or take a bit) and reduced the flour by 1 cup as well.

Converting Non-Yeast Based Recipes to Sourdough

This includes quickbread items like muffins, cupcakes, cookies, tortillas, crackers, banana bread, waffles, pancakes, etc.

Keep in mind: These kinds of recipes do not call for yeast, so they use baking soda or baking powder to help them rise.

Adding baking soda and baking powder at the end will help the quickbread rise best!

The Basics:

  1. Reduce the flour by 1 cup.
  2. Reduce the water/liquid by 1 cup.
  3. Add in the baking soda and baking powder last, right before baking.
  4. Allow it to ferment for at least 4 hours in order to maximize health benefits.

Example:

I have a recipe for Cheddar Biscuits and I’d like to change it to sourdough. Here’s how I achieved that goal:

I’ve put the changes in italics.

Original RecipeSourdough Conversion
2 cups of flourchanged to 1 cup of flour
1 1/3 cup shredded cheese1 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
1 TBS of baking powder1 TBS of baking powder
1 tsp. of garlic powder1 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. of salt1/2 tsp. of salt
2 TBS of parsley2 TBS of parsley
3/4 cup of milkcut out the milk
1 egg1 egg
1/3 cup of butter2 1/2 TBS of butter
1 cup of sourdough starter

Keep in Mind: This is an example of a conversion I have done with success, but each time I make it I have to adjust a bit. My sourdough starter is always changing (more hydrated or less hydrated), so sometimes I add more flour if the batter is too sticky, or I’ll add a little milk if it is very dry.

I encourage you to know your starter. Is it very hydrated than normal? If so, you may end up with a sticky batter or dough. Is your starter less hydrated than normal? Then it’ll probably produce a drier product. Adjust the recipe as needed!

What if My Original Recipe Only Calls For 1 Cup of Flour and Water/Liquid?

Sometimes a non-sourdough recipe only calls for 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water/liquid. Just replace all of it with sourdough starter.

Keep in mind: If you do this to a recipe, there is no reason to allow it to ferment for 4+ hours because there is no longer any flour in the mixture to break down!

Can I Use Sourdough AND Traditional Yeast?

There are two answers to this question. Each one depends on the reason you’d like to add sourdough.

  1. Just for the yummy flavor of sourdough. Then go ahead! Add a little to your recipe and you’ll end up with the taste of sourdough.
  2. For the health benefits of fermentation! Adding yeast to sourdough will stop the process of fermentation, which is what makes sourdough so healthy. If you want the health benefits, don’t add yeast!

Keep in Mind

  • Sourdough never needs to be ‘punched down’ like regular bread dough does. The long rise time will be undone if punched down.
  • These are a few things I have learned through experimentation, but please note that every sourdough starter is different (based on climate). Follow these guidelines, but you may also need to make adjustments based on your starter. I encourage you to practice and get to know your sourdough starter. Soon you’ll know exactly what it prefers!
  • Sugar. The process of fermentation does not work as well when lots of sugar is present in a recipe. Cakes are a good example of this since they often call for a large amount of sugar. Feel free to add some sourdough for the flavor of it, but be aware that the health benefits of fermentation will not be there.

Yummy Sourdough Recipes

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