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May 27, 2010

Wandas Basic Sourdough Starter




  • Make and maintain your own sourdough starter
  • you can make your own.
  • you'll need a volume of at least one and 1/3 cups.
  • There are several ingredient combinations for making wildshopping list
  • yeast sourdough:
  • - One is to grate a raw potato. Then add enoughwater to cover
  • and enough flour to make a thin batter of about a cup and a
  • third in volume.
  • - Another method is to use water that you've boiled potatoes
  • in instead of the grated potato and watercombination.
  • - You can also use floursugar and water. Use one cup of
  • flour, a tablespoon of sugar and enough water to make a
  • pancake consistency batter.
  • - Yet another is to simply mix together equal amounts of water
  • and flour (whole wheat is best for this).
  • Anything that provides food for the yeast and a good growing
  • environment will work. yeast needs sugar or carbohydrates
  • (which it converts to sugar), and clear liquid.
  • Make your choice based on what you have handy and just because
  • that's what you'd like to try. Don't worry about whether or
  • not one set of ingredients will work better than another,
  • because the chances are that they will all be equally
  • efficient in attracting wild (sour) yeast. There is no exact
  • recipe because there are so many other variables in each house
  • that will invite or dissuade wild yeasts from entering the
  • mixture. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. The
  • most important thing is the method.
  • When you have decided on the ingredients you want, put them in
  • a glass container that will hold at least three times the
  • volume of the ingredients. Mix lightly with a wooden or
  • plastic spoon as some metals will react to it. The working of
  • the starter will mix itself.
  • Leave the mixture undisturbed and loosely covered with a cloth
  • or perforated plastic (to allow gases to escape) at warm room
  • temperature until it begins to froth or "work" and expand.
  • This is a sign that wild yeasts have made themselves at home
  • and that's what you're after. The new starter will rise up in
  • the container, then fall again. When it has, it's ready for
  • use. (Note: It will smell sour!)
  • When you use it, always leave some in the container and add
  • flour and water back to equal what you've taken out. Most
  • recipes call for a cup of starter, so replace it with a half-
  • cup of flour and a half-cup of water and set it in a warm
  • place to work again.
  • You will probably see a liquid covering the top at one time or
  • another. This is called "hooch," and it's exactly what it
  • sounds like, but don't drink it! Actually, it's harmless, so
  • stir it back into the starter if the starter is thick, or if
  • it's thin, just pour the hooch off. It's nothing to worry much
  • about either way.
  • Keep sourdough in the refrigerator unless you use it at least
  • every third day. If you use it that often, you can leave it on
  • the counter or any place where it's safe. If you can't
  • refrigerate it, you can keep it fresh by throwing out a cup of
  • it every second or third day and then replenish withflour and
  • water. Wait until it "works" again before counting days.
  • A properly cared for starter can live indefinitely, but if you
  • leave it out without using it for too long, the yeastcan
  • literally suffocate in its own waste products. If the starter
  • looks off color (grayish is normal) or turns pink, toss it and
  • start fresh.
  • What can you make with sourdough? Besides the traditional
  • bread, you can make biscuits, pancakes, pretzels,bagels,
  • muffins, cornbread and even cookies! Once you're comfortable
  • using it, you can experiment with your favoriteyeast or
  • baking powder recipes. Simply put, you substitute sourdough
  • for leavening and part or all of the liquid.





  • The basic recipe for plain sourdough bread:
  • 1 cup starter
  • 1 Tbsp. of fat (margarine, butter, vegetable oil or olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Enough flour to make a dough that can be handled without
  • sticking, but is still pliable
  • Knead by hand or machine until it's smooth, then cover and let
  • it rise until it's doubled in bulk. This will take longer
  • (sometimes over an hour longer) than yeast leavened bread, so
  • don't give up and throw it out! Make sure you keep it warm,
  • but not hot, while it's rising.
  • Again, there is no hard and fast rule because circumstances
  • are so variable. Your starter might be more or less robust, or
  • thinner or thicker, or your kitchen may be warmer or cooler.
  • After it's risen, punch it down and knead enough to remove all
  • the bubbles, then form it into a loaf shape and put it in a
  • lightly greased bread pan. You can sprinkle a little corn meal
  • in the pan and on top of the loaf if you like. Let it rise in
  • the pan, then bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
  • Baking sourdough bread is a learned skill and one that takes
  • practice, but even if your first loaf doesn't meet your
  • expectations, it will be edible. Once you become familiar with
  • the process, you can experiment on making just about anything
  • that is leavened. Biscuits, cookies, pancakes, cornbread,
  • specialty breads and even cakes can be made using sourdough
  • starter instead of yeast or baking powder.
  • Besides creating incredibly delicious baked goods, you'll save
  • a bundle of money over time by not buying yeast!