Sourdough bread and making your own starter

To make your Sourdough Starter:

2 cups warm water **
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 to 1.5 tsp. sugar or honey

Sprinkle some good yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix, stir in remaining warm water, the flour, salt and sugar. Beat till smooth. Put in a seal able (but not airtight) container. Let stand covered with cheesecloth in a warm place, stir once or twice daily. In 5-7 days it should begin to have a sourdough aroma.

When used afterwards always replenish with equal amounts of flour and water. Store in fridge and use every week. Rule of thumb is never to add anything but flour and water.** However, some people add 1 tsp. sugar with every 3/4 cup ea. Water and flour addition. Others use warmed milk, buttermilk or yogurt. I say, it’s your sourdough.

Most important is to let it refresh at room temperature one day every week. One other interesting start was to take this flour mixture in a container (nonmetallic) — cover with cheesecloth, near an open bowl of over ripe red-wine grapes. Keep the starter at 70-80 degrees for three to five days, stirring twice a day until fragrant.  I put it on top of my hot water heater.

I would very much like to hear from someone who has caught ‘wild’ yeast and cultured it. Leaving the covered starter outside during warm fall days making your yeast uniquely your own.

Basic Bread:

1 cup well fed sourdough sponge
4 cups un-sifted flour (unbleached)
1 1/4 cup warm water (Greek yogurt could be added – reduce water accordingly)
1 T. ea. of sugar or molasses and Oil (or butter)
2-3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda

(edit and a good one I think: An edit to this unbleached flour was
Finally ..
75 % hydration
25% starter
34% bread flour
33% whole wheat
33% white whole wheat
2% salt
Taste is wonderful, slightly nutty. All KA flours.

Cornmeal to sprinkle on the pans.

2 cups un-sifted flour
1 package yeast

Instructions: The Sponge:

Scoop 1 cup of starter into a large ceramic mixing bowl. Add the warm water into mixing bowl; stir in the yeast. Add starter, and 3-4 cups flour, salt, sugars and oil. Stir hard with wooden spoon. Turn into a greased bowl, cover and let rise some 2 hr. and up to 8 hours. A longer period (at a lower temperature) will result in a more Sour flavor.

 The dough:
 When the sponge has bubbled and expanded, blend in the salt, soda and sugar (if using) and remaining 2 cups of flour. It should be quite stiff. Mix until the dough comes together then turn it out onto a floured board and knead it for 4 minutes until satiny. Give it a rest while you clean and grease the bowl. Continue kneading for another 3 to 4 minutes, adding extra flour as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add only enough extra flour to keep dough from sticking. Place the divided dough  on a lightly greased cookie sheet, cover and let it rise in a warmed place ( turned off oven) let rise again. (1 to 2 hours).

Turn up the oven (LOVE those gas stoves for this) make decorative slashes on top with knife. Put in a 375-400 degree oven until done, 35-40 minutes. Longer if you have made one large loaf. I usually cover the bread with a cooking cloth and cook another 5 minutes.

“Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it’s our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something with which you’d like to have dinner with.

Women are like fine wine. They all start out fresh, fruity and intoxicating to the mind and then turn full-bodied with age until they go all sour and vinegary and give you a headache.”

** As a postscript I had been given a starter by this dear departed  friend. He had saved it from his grandfather’s Nebraska homestead and I managed to loose it in just it five years.  🙂  I felt so GUILTY. It was now a four generation heirloom starter victim.

Thank you Verle Miner. I remember you every time I make this. I hope you like Kate Wolf ‘Apple and the Lilac Tree.’ More people should make a favorite dish to commemorate the day of their friends passing. I think I would start with the blueberry muffins you so loved.

I must add in my defense for loosing the starter that I was suffering from pneumonia. A friend in CA. offered me her warm and upscale home to recover in while she went to Hawaii. Sourdough starters are like pets, though less demanding. Taking off for two weeks however, simply was too much for this pet to endure. 

(C) Herb Senft 2014

EDIT:  On the sourdough. Reviving the sponge on a weekly basis does NOT mean you have to make sourdough bread weekly. I added a Tbs. to pancake mixes or other breads regularly. Refreshed it with flour and let it wake up again while I was baking. At the end of the day – back to the fridge.

How 18th Century People Made Bread

And a great read on San Francisco Sourdough.

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Sourdough bread and making your own starter — 2 Comments

  1. This site is never a disappointment!!! This was great–I must confess I have made regular yeast breads but never sourdough and I have once again learned so much. I thought the story of Miner’s sourdough start was very enjoyable–sad that you lost the start. What a wonderful idea to make a dish to commemorate a friends passing. I laughed and laughed over the Doomsday meal on the other page—very clever you are–great sense of humor!!!

  2. Thank you Jan,
    Two reflections. We often forget to make a physical note of the ‘date’ a friend dies. I have done better with the last few friends either noting in my phone book or in posting that person as ‘unrelated’ in my family tree maker program. There you can enter many facts about the person. For some reason I did not do that for Verle and even now I am searching for the Meiner cookbook that I seem to have misplaced. Some of those old recipes were treasures. I just hope I haven’t lost that as well.

    On the sourdough. Reviving the sponge on a weekly basis does NOT mean you have to make sourdough bread weekly. I added a Tbs. to pancake mixes or other breads regularly. Refreshed it with flour and let it wake up again while I was baking. At the end of the day – back to the fridge.

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