Some people have a sour dough start that dates back a hundred years or more. I had the pleasure of owning a sourdough start that originated in Alaska over 85 years ago. Sadly, during our migration to Nebraska ten years ago my Alaskan sourdough was left uncared for and in the hustle and bustle of the move and it turned moldy and was ruined. Since then I have started my own Sourdough. There are numerous ways to make a sourdough stater, this one below I have found works best.
Rinse a quart bowl (glass or plastic, not metal) with scalding hot water and dry. Then mix the following ingredients together in the bowl:
2 tablespoons sugar
Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water-enough to make a thick batter-and stir just enough to break up the clumps. Let this stand in a warm place for a couple of days till bubbly. Keep an eye on it once it starts to bubble and grown it can climb up and over the edges of the bowl. (this has happened to me several time) I figure it is ready when it smell like a combination of beer and freshly baked bread and has a watery heady smelling layer on top. You can either pour off this layer mix it in like I do, or drink it like the old timers used to.
|watery layer on sourdough|
Let the dough rise in a warm place, in a bowl covered loosely with a towel (if you're using a bread machine's dough cycle, let it rise in the machine). Note that sourdough rises more slowly than yeast bread; my starter takes about an hour or so, but some starters take much longer. Let the dough double in bulk, just like yeast-bread dough. When a finger poked into the top of the dough creates a pit that doesn't "heal" (spring back), you've got a risen dough.
Punch the dough down and knead it a little more. Make a loaf and place it on a baking sheet (lightly greased or sprinkled with cornmeal). Slit the top if you like, and cover the loaf with a paper towel and place it in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in bulk.
Place the pan with the loaf in your oven, and then turn your oven to 350o Fahrenheit and bake the bread for 30-45 minutes. Do not preheat the oven. The loaf is done when the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack or a towel and let it cool for an hour before slicing.
|Sourdough bread made in my bread machine|
|My sourdough crock|