For the first episode of my 25 Recipes Challenge, I chose the 26th recipe. Which I realize makes no sense.
I’ve always wanted to make sourdough, but it sounded more like an intimidating chemistry experiment than anything else. You have to get the starter just right, and keep feeding it at regular intervals, and your bread could still be messed up.
But I found a recipe and method that seemed straightforward and simple, so I went for it.
1 T yeast
2 C flour
2 C water
Mix, let stand at room temperature 48 hours. It will have a pleasantly sour smell, like fresh sourdough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (The notes say that if your starter ever turns pink, orange, or any other strange color, it should be discarded.)
To make two loaves of bread:
5 1/2 C flour
2 C starter
1 T salt
1 C water
Dissolve salt in mixing bowl, add starter, and then flour. Mix, then knead. (I did this in my stand mixer.)
Cover with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature. (I let it rise in my upstairs bathroom – our old house heats unevenly when it’s this cold outside, but the bathroom stays a nice 78 or so, especially with the door closed. It’s a great place for rising bread, although it’s a little startling first thing in the morning.)
Punch down, divide into loaves. (The instructions say to shape two round loaves, slash an X in the top, and put on a baking sheet. I used loaf pans because I prefer that shape.) Cover again with a damp towel, and let rise at room temperature about four hours. (Upstairs in the bathroom again, over a pan of warm water.)
Preheat oven to 400F, and bake 35 minutes.
It tasted (and smelled) heavenly – just right sourdough, with lovely strong texture and nice crispy crust. I was thrilled, and Greg was drooling. I baked it just a little bit too long, so the bottom crust is pretty dark, but still very tasty.
So I’ll be making a batch of sourdough bread every week for a while, since I have to keep the starter going. I also have plans for sourdough pancakes next weekend, since those sound tasty. The recipe notes also say that the starter separates in the fridge, which was definitely true in my case, but is apparently quite normal.
To feed the starter each time, after you remove two cups for bread:
Add 1 1/2 C flour, 1 1/2 C water, and stir together.