BYOB (Bake your own bread)

The Ecology Center’s “Wonder to Wild” Sourdough Bread

One of the most delicious ways to find warmth this winter is by baking your own bread at home. Skip the store-bought bread and master the art of baking with this simple and wild bread recipe using a homemade sourdough starter. Each loaf will bring us all one-step closer to a healthy environment!

How does a homemade loaf versus store-bought loaf of bread make a difference? National Geographic tells us there is 11 gallons of water in a slice of store-bought wheat bread—approximately 220 gallons per loaf! While most of that water is used in growing the wheat, it’s also embedded (along with other resources, energy and pollution) inside the milling, production, packaging and transporting of bread to the store.

The good news is, baking this homemade wild bread with sourdough starter at home requires less energy, less water, less pollution, no plastic packaging and no harmful artificial ingredients or preservatives. Best of all, baking at home provides warmth and fragrance during the cold winter months! Making a positive impact on our environment never tasted (or smelled) so good! To begin, all you need is a few simple ingredients. Follow the recipe below and we promise it will be love at first loaf!

Check out for more simple ways you can be part of the solution to a healthier environment.


Creating the Sourdough Starter
• Wide mouth jar or plastic food storage container with lid
• 2 cups flour
• 3 cups water

Baking the Bread:
• ⅔ cup of water
• 1 ½ cups starter (well fed)
• 3 ½ cups flour
• 1 ½ tsps salt
• Spray oil
• Mixing bowl
• Baking sheet
• Egg wash, melted butter, or olive oil


Creating the Sourdough Starter
1. Select a container to grow starter in. A wide mouth mason jar or a plastic food storage container will work just fine. Avoid using a metal container.

2. Mix one cup of water and one cup of flour together with a wooden or plastic spoon. You can use any type of flour: all-purpose, whole wheat or bread flour.

3. Pour mixture into the jar.

4. Keep the starter uncovered in a warm place (70° - 80°F).

5. For three or four days, feed your starter once a day by throwing out half of the mixture first. Then, add a fresh half cup each of flour and water.

6. When your mixture starts to bubble, your starter is a success!

7. Now cover the container with the lid and place it in the fridge.

8. Once a week, remove the container from the fridge and feed the starter as you did in step 5.

9. Along the way, if a dark, watery liquid that smells like beer (called hooch) begins to form, just pour it out. Or, if your starter looks dry, stir it back in.

Baking the Bread
1. Place water and starter in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl (such as stainless steel). Sift in three cups flour and the salt. Use a large, non-reactive spoon to stir mixture until flour is moistened.

2. Spray the mix with water, and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes.

3. First Rise: Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for about one minute, form a dough ball, then return it to the bowl. Spray with a light coat of oil, spritz with water, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to double in volume (4 to 8 hours).

4. Punch down the dough. Knead until you have squeezed out the bubbles, leaving the dough smooth, not sticky. Add more flour if it is too sticky, and just a teaspoon of water if it is too stiff.

5. Second Rise: Place the dough back into the bowl, lightly coat with spray oil, spritz with water, and then cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to double in volume once again. This should take half the time of the first rise (2 to 4 hours).

6. Punch the dough down, knead for one minute. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes before dividing it in half.

7. Lightly flour your work surface. To make baguettes, form each dough half into a torpedo shape. Spray your baking sheet with a light coating of oil, then place the loaves on the sheet. Lightly coat loaves with spray oil, spritz with water and cover them with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size, 3 to 4 hours.

8. Pre heat your oven to 450°F. Place six ice cubes in an oven proof custard cup. Set on your baking sheet, and then cover with a hotel pan (or aluminum foil tent).

9. Place the covered pan in the oven for 15 minutes, allowing the loaves to bake in steam.

10. Take the covered pan out of the oven, remove the lid (be careful not to let the steam scald you).

11. Paint your loaves with egg wash, melted butter or olive oil to get a shinier crust.

12. Lower the oven temperature to 425°F and bake the loaves (without the hotel pan this time) for another 15 to 20 minutes. The loaves are done when the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 195° F.

13. Remove the bread, let cool, and then share with friends!

This recipe was adapted from our Backyard Skills: A D.I.Y. Handbook.


The Ecology Center is a regional hub for sustainability in Orange County, CA, seeks to bring all members of the community together in a solutions-based educational setting to inspire and create a healthy and abundant future for all. The Center highlights empowering and cutting-edge environmental perspectives that can be applied to the way we live our lives, making it possible for us to coexist with a thriving environment.