A Beginner's Guide to Sourdough

| 6/11/2011 6:41:03 PM

A lot of people have been asking me questions about sourdough breads, so I thought I’d devote this blog and at least the next one as well, to that subject. I’ve heard about, read about, and eaten, sourdough breads for years, but it’s only the last six months that I decided to personally get into this aspect of bread baking. Some of the breads I tried in the past I really didn’t like, and wonder now how they were made (as in how authentic). All that changed six months ago. For Christmas, I received some sour dough starter (only I would get such a present for Christmas). It had been ordered from the folks at King Arthur Flour (KAF) down in Vermont, and it came in a little jar, looking rather sickly. I downloaded their directions, and off we, the yeasts and I, went. I am very pleased to report that not only did it survive, but is thriving. Part of the gift included the beautiful crock that goes with it, providing a very handy ceramic container in which to keep my starter. This also started me on a mad dash to find recipes, because originally being a frugal Yankee, I couldn’t bear to throw out half of it during the process of feeding and caring for my starter that first day or two (at least with the KAF method). In the end, there were several containers all going. Some I gave away to my students, all got used. But at least not wasted. In the process, the family has enjoyed sour dough waffles, pancakes, biscuits, and breads. In short, just about sourdough everything.

You don’t have to buy a starter, you can also make your own from traditional yeast, say Fleischmann’s for example. I will give their recipe for that below. I will also give the recipe for an excellent loaf, which I actually made into a sandwich-style bread that came from the Fleischmann folks as well. Both these recipes came from their excellent paperback book, Fleischmann’s Yeast:  Best-Ever Breads (see credit below). KAF also has directions for the starter on their website (and cookbooks) at www.kingarthurflour.com. A hint:  Sour dough can seem intimidating at first, but if you persevere, the results are well worth it, because once you have your starter, you can branch out to many lovely sourdough breads, including my Olive Oil Sourdough loaf, which will have to wait for the next blog. This one is a classic crunchy loaf, but don’t worry, that will come on the heels of getting you started with this blog. I would also like to talk about the Artisanal Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method, also in a future blog. It’s a fantastic bread. I will also give more tips on the care and feeding of your starter, among other hints on sourdough. So, with apologies to San Francisco (and yes, their sourdough is unique, but then every region’s sourdoughs are), here we go.

Fleischmann’s Sourdough Starter  

 2 cups all-purpose flour 

 1 package or 8 grams Fleischmann’s Traditional Active Dry Yeast or Quick-Rise Instant Yeast 

 2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 115 F or 40 to 45 C) 

7/11/2011 6:58:31 PM

Your recipe rocks ;) thanks;)I'm drying some out now To see how well that works for storage, any ideaz;)One thing, do u use unbleached flour?

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