There are two ways to get your starter going…by trying to make your own, or by ordering a packet of dried starter. I made two valiant efforts at catching my own yeast, but was ultimately unsuccessful. So, I asked for some dried starter from Cultures For Health for Christmas, and gave that a shot. I had an active, live, bubbling starter within 3 days. Success! Of course, after this starter was working wonderfully, I realized why I failed at my homemade starter. I was using filtered tap water…tap water that is chlorinated. In both attempts, my starter would get bubbly after a couple of days, but then it would die quickly. Apparently chlorine doesn’t allow the yeast to flourish, so my poor starter kept trying to grow, but the chlorine in my water killed it off. On my third attempt (with the pre-dried starter, I made sure to use some distilled water.) If you decide to attempt this yourself – don’t make the same mistake I did and use chlorine free filtered water the first time!
So far, I’ve only made basic sourdough bread with my starter, but I’m sure I’ll be trying out pancakes, muffins, biscuits, etc etc. My first batch failed miserably, but after some trial and error, my next two batches were delicious. This was confirmed by family and friends! Here’s the recipe that works for me (modified from Cultures For Health.)
*Note – this recipe yields TWO loaves of bread. If you only want to make one, cut the recipe in half.
+ 2 1/3 Cups Sourdough Starter
+ 3 1/3 Cups Flour plus 1 extra cup to use when kneading (I use organic all purpose)
+ 1-1 1/2 Cups Filtered, Non-Chlorinated Water (I only need about a cup)
+ Just under a Tablespoon of Salt
+ Coconut Oil (or other high heat oil)
+ Meat Thermometer
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
2. Place the extra 1 cup of flour in a bowl to use when kneading. Sprinkle some onto your kneading surface.
3. Remove the starter/flour/water/salt mixture from the large bowl and place on kneading surface.
4. Knead for a good 20+ minutes, mixing in flour as you go to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or surface. You can take breaks if needed. After 20 minutes, pull of a chunk of dough and stretch it out between your forefingers and thumbs to see if you can get it thin enough to see light through without breaking. If the dough breaks easily, it needs to be kneading longer. Continue kneading until the dough passes this test. (Usually called the window pane test)
5. Roll the dough into a big ball and then cut in half as this recipe yields TWO loaves of bread.
6. Depending on what you are baking your bread in, lightly coat the surface with oil. Some options include a bread pan or a dutch oven. I just use a large cookie sheet. I use a silicone basting brush to coat the surface.
7. Roll the two pieces of dough into balls and place on cookie sheet with a few inches in between.
8. Brush the dough balls with coconut oil. The first time I tried baking the bread, I didn’t do this and the whole top of my dough dried out. I use the same silicone basting brush for this.
9. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rise for 4-12 hours. I hate waiting, so I bake closer to 4 hours. You can check that it’s ready by pushing your finger gently into the dough. If the dough doesn’t spring back, it’s ready to bake!
10. Remove the towel and stick your pan in a 400 degree oven. Don’t worry if the dough balls are touching a little bit, they will easily come apart after baking. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Check temperature of one of the loaves by sticking meat thermometer into the center after 30 minutes. If the temperature is 200 degrees, they are done.
11. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting. Listen to the crackling as they cool – it’s a beautiful sound. :) Enjoy your yummy bread!
This is the easiest, most fool-proof way of cooking sourdough I’ve found! I’m not a great baker, and I was able to do it successfully. The key is having a very active starter for your dough.
January 10, 2013
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