I am preparing to make a new batch of sour dough starter this week. I have not had a batch going in about 2 months, and my sour dough bread is one of my family's favorite things. A big pot of soup and a round loaf of sour dough bread is the perfect cold night meal.
Better yet, the sour dough starter can be used for lots of different things...biscuits, pancakes, breads, waffles, muffins, pizza crust, crackers, cakes, scones, doughnuts, pretzels...the list is endless.
|Sour Dough Starter|
|Sour Dough Jar|
Make sure to use a large jar with a loose-fitting lid. I use this glass jar that I got from Wal-Mart. Most importantly, use a jar with a large opening to ensure ample ease of mixing.
The most important thing is keeping the starter going, which requires feeding. Each time it is used, the mix needs replenished. If it has been awhile since you used the starter, you may have to discard some starter and "feed" it. There are hundreds of recipes that can be used so you don't actually have to discard the starter (a quick online search for sour dough recipes will bring endless results), but you'll know it needs fed when you get a layer of liquid on top. As long as the liquid is clear or light yellow in color, it is still good to use. Stir it in and move on. If it is gray or black, discard your starter and start over.
I remember my grandma often having a jar of sour dough starter on the kitchen counter. My siblings and I spent almost every Friday night at my grandparents house when I was a child, and my grandma used that jar of starter a lot while we were there, although most commonly it was for sour dough pancakes, which she often topped with her own homemade raspberry syrup...a flavor and scent I still like to replicate occasionally that can take me back to my grandmother's kitchen faster than just about anything else. It was my grandma that first introduced me to the wonders of sour dough, and I love everything about it.
Here are my recipes for starter and my basic (yet extremely tasty) sour dough bread which I have been making for about 20 years now. Enjoy!
Sour Dough Starter
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups flour
Mix all ingredients with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour into jar and cover. Leave out at room temperature for 48 hours. Each time you use the starter add 2 more cups of flour and 2 cups of water and mix until smooth again. Leave out for a few hours until bubbly and refrigerate. After the first time, you will not need to use additional yeast.
Sour Dough Bread
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs yeast
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups starter
5-6 cups flour
Mix water, yeast, sugar and salt. Add starter. Mix flour in a cup at a time just until dough is no longer sticky. Knead until smooth and satiny on a floured board. Place in a greased bowl, grease top of dough and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into 2 parts. Knead balls lightly and make 2 round loaves. Place onto a greased baking sheet (or prepared parchment paper) and dust tops lightly with cornmeal (This step is optional, but something I learned from an almost identical recipe while I was working at Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site, and I quite love the texture, so I keep it in my recipe now as well!). Cover and let rise until doubled again. Bake at 350° F. for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom...the most truly accurate way to tell if a loaf of bread is done all the way through!
For best results serve hot with fresh butter....but don't be surprised if a whole loaf is gone in a few minutes!