A Sour Note

It’s true what they say; All you need is loaf.

Wait, that’s not how the song goes? What a shame, because on yet another glorious World Bread Day, it seemed like the ideal anthem for us flour-encrusted and loaf pan-wielding bakers across the globe. Celebrating all things doughy and yeasted, it’s an event that I wouldn’t miss for anything, if only to take advantage of the excuse to bake another lofty loaf.

Bake Bread for World Bread Day 2011

Let it be known that I am a terrible sourdough keeper. “But it’s so easy!” they cry, “I’ve had my sourdough starter for 50 years!” they insist. Well, that’s well and good if you can manage such a feat, but I have now effortlessly killed off two previously hearty mothers in short order, and am not exactly eager to give it another go. Nope, it’s all faux sourdough for me from here on in.

Utilizing “yogurt” or “sour cream” and citric acid, to impart a pleasingly tangy flavor, but relying on commercial packaged yeast for a fool-proof lift, it strikes me as the best sort of compromise. Rather than developing a hard, crackled crust and tough inner structure, this imposter sourdough has a much softer, more tender crumb. Not quite fluffy but definitely chewy, it makes for a delightfully toothsome base for sandwiches or simply toast.

Yield: Makes 1 Loaf; 8 Servings

Faux Sourdough

Faux Sourdough

If you struggle to keep a starter, you can still get all the great flavor of sourdough with the help of tangy yogurt and the bite of citric acid.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour


  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Potato Water*
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/4-Ounce Package Active Dry Yeast
  • 3/4 Cup Plain Greek-Style Vegan Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 4 1/2 – 5 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Citric Acid
  • 1/16 Teaspoon (Tiny Pinch) Ground Ginger


  1. To begin, dissolve the sugar into the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow it to proof for about 5 minutes, until active and frothy. Mix in the yogurt or sour cream and begin to work in the flour, 1 cup at a time. Add in the salt, citric acid, and ginger, along with the first measure of flour. Use the dough hook on your stand mixer if you have one, and allow it to knead slowly and create a sticky but workable dough. Err on the side of using less flour for now; You can always work more into it later.
  2. Let the machine continue to knead the dough for about 10 minutes on low speed. Cover the bowl, stash it in the fridge, and allow it to sit for 12 – 24 hours. Yes, that long! Your patience will be rewarded.
  3. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and set aside. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and have more flour ready if needed. Knead the dough by hand, adding more flour if too sticky, for about 10 minutes. Let it rest for another 10 so that the gluten can relax a bit before shaping. Flatten the dough into a rectangle slightly shorter than 9 inches, and then roll it up tightly. Place the roll seam-side down in your prepared loaf pan.
  4. Allow the loaf to sit for 60 – 90 minutes, until just barely peeking out above the rim of the pan. Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.


*By “potato water,” I mean the water that was used to boil potatoes, which is full of tenderizing starches and excellent for bread making. Pasta water can also work, or in a pinch, 1 teaspoon potato starch whisked into plain water.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 431mgCarbohydrates: 292gFiber: 11gSugar: 5gProtein: 50g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.


26 thoughts on “A Sour Note

  1. I love sourdough bread, but I too, am the worst with keeping up with my sourdough starters. (It makes me realize that I’ll be a terrible mother one day, lol) This looks so good, I’ll have to try it! I’ve never heard of using potato water in bread, but it makes sense!

  2. I’m the worst with keeping up a starter as well. I don’t think I’ve had a successful run with one yet! I will have to try this faux sourdough!

  3. I never cease to learn something intresting and new about bread… the idea of potato water is simple and logic, but I never thought it before! lovely recipe!

  4. I love the tang of sourdough bread, and I love the fact that this uses a faux starter even more! Great use for sour cream or yogurt!

  5. Hmm, I wonder if vegan cream cheese would work? I’ve finally ascertained that the Aussie brand of soy cream cheese at my supermarket is trans-fat free, unlike the partially hydrogenated Tofutti that’s stocked. A whole dream-field of vegan cheesecakes is now before me…

    And I’ve totally digressed.

    1. Hm, I’m not sure about substituting “cream cheese”… It’s definitely thicker/firmer than sour cream, but similar in flavor, so maybe if you thinned it out slightly to a more pudding-like consistency with non-dairy milk? I’d be very curious to hear how it turns out of you do try!

  6. I’ve never heard of a faux sourdough before, but it’s genius. I’ve always wanted to dabble in real sourdough, but for whatever reason, like pie, it completely intimidates me.

  7. Faux sourdough?! You’ve become my hero! (Wait, I think you already were…so, I guess you’re still my hero?) :) I’ve been meaning to make a mother for ages but it always freaks me out a little, but I miss the sourdough taste in homemade bread. I’m going to have to give this a whirl really really soon.

  8. And this has been only two weeks of my keeping a happy starter, and I’ve managed to make bread on almost every day EXCEPT World Bread Day! :-P

    I keep my starter in the fridge. And one thing that I do that I find makes it a heck of a lot easier, is whenever I feed it, I put it in a bowl, feed it, clean out it’s little jar, and put it back in. So the jar doesn’t get ugly, which it can SO EASILY.

    [I only started my starter when Pinch My Salt started hers. http://pinchmysalt.com/2011/09/30/how-to-make-sourdough-bread/ That’s her bread, but it also links to the seven days of building a starter. If you want to poke at it again. :-P

    Oh! Also learned recently that fall is one of the better times to start a starter, as there’s lots going on outside, yet not too hot, not too cold, and a good chance of yeasties surviving.

  9. Hannah, I love sourdough bread, but never tried to make it…Faux sourdough sounds much easier to manage. I will have to take your words and try this one :-)
    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead and thanks for sharing this recipe!

  10. It doesn’t always has to be the real thing. Faux works too, especially if it looks so yummie! Thank you for participating in World Bread Day 2011 and thank you for the slogan “All you need is loaf” – could be the slogan for next years WBD!!

  11. I love sourdough bread! I almost picked up a ($6…eek) loaf last night but just couldn’t justify the price. Will need to try this in the future.

    ps. I agree, all you need is loaf! :)

  12. This bread looks great! I got a sourdough starter from an old coworker but I wasn’t sure if I killed it or if it had mould or what, so I just decided not to use it…

  13. I remember pouring off the potato water from boiling potatoes for the evening meal and saving it until the next day to make bread with. Often left over mashed potatoes went into the bread as well. It was not uncommon to have leftover oatmeal, or other hot cereal left overs go into the bread too., just make sure the dominate ingredient is flour.

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