Sunday, June 08, 2008

Adventures in Sourdough

I love sourdough bread and going through my vintage recipe clippings, in the hopes that I could pare them down and put them on my computer cookbook program, I rediscovered some sourdough recipes from 1977. OK......I know..... too anal to hold on to clippings for over 30 years. However, as I recall, these were really good and turned out great most of the time. Of course....actually reading the recipe thoroughly is sort of important (more on that later)

Here is the starter

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water

Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a larger mixing bowl. Gradually stir in very warm water until mixture resembles a smooth paste. Cover with a clean towel or several layers of cheese cloth and let stand in a warm place (85 degrees) stirring several times a day. If temperature is lower than 85 or you prefer a more pronounced sour flavor, let the mixture stand 3 to 5 days. If mixture is allowed to sour longer than 3 days and it does not seem bubbly, stir in 2 tbsp of four and 2 tbsp lukewarm water. At the end of the bubbling and souring period, pour into a large jar or plastic container, partially covered to allow gasses to escape and store in refrigerator.

To prepare basic starter for sourdough recipes: Measure 1 cup of the mixture into large bowl (return jar with remainder to refrigerator) Stir in 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour with wooden spoon until fairly smooth. Cover bowl with a clean towel and set for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. This is the Basic Sourdough Starter you will use in the recipes that follow. Return any unused starter (at least 1/2 cup) to the starter stored in the refrigerator.

If you are not baking every week and the starter is not replenished this way, every week, add 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup flour to container of sour dough. Stir with wooden spoon until mixed. Leave out covered with a clean towel or plastic wrap overnight. Next day return to refrigerator until needed

The key to the sourdough recipes that I have been using is give yourself plenty of time. This is a weekend project for me. Once you have the initial starter done, it takes overnight or at least 5 hours to 're-proof' the starter that you will be using in the following recipe. This is a step I skipped in my first recreation .... READ first. As a result my loaves were flat and somewhat tasteless.


  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup basic sourdough starter (the re-proofed starter from paragraph 2!)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved, add basic sourdough starter, sugar salt, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon 2 to 3 minutes. Cover bowl with a towel. Let rise in a warm place away from drafts 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in volume

Stir down down. Mix baking soda with 1 cup of remaining flour; Stir into dough. Gradually beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly flour surface. Knead until smooth and elastic 5 to 10 minutes using only enough additional flour to keep from sticking.

Shape into 2 long loaves or one large round loaf. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover with a cloth. Let rise in a warm place 1 to 1/12 hours or until doubled in volume. Brush loves with water. Make diagonal slashes across top with a thin bladed sharp knife or a razor blade.

Bake in a hot oven 400 for 45 minute or until crust is brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet or pan. Cool on racks.

Here is a wonderful website for basic baking and loaf shaping for anyone who hasn't much experience in baking.

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