Monday, May 14, 2012

BREAD ON MONDAY - Sour Dough Starter

Many years ago, when my kids were small, I got started making Sour Dough French Bread. I made most of our regular bread but, since we loved garlic bread often, I still bought a lot of French bread. I finally got the courage to try making my own from scratch, beginning with the starter. We loved it so much that it became a regular staple in our home, along with many other breads that I experimented with making from that same starter.

My kids are all grown and moved out, now, so I haven't made any Sour Dough breads in a long while. But I have been thinking about it a lot lately, seems I have been craving it for some reason .... I guess deep down I have been missing it. I looked at it at the store but, besides the fact that it didn't even begin to compare to my homemade, the price was outrageous! So I have decided to brush the dust off of my old Sour Dough Starter recipe, mix up a batch, and enjoy a few loaves again. Only this time, I will have to make sure I keep a damper on the "sharing."

What do I mean by 'keeping a damper on the sharing?"  Well, besides the kids growing up and moving out, one of the biggest reasons I quit making it was that EVERYONE in the family loved it. They quickly learned when my baking days were and begged for me to bring them a loaf. First it was one, then two, then the list of bread hungry family and friends grew and grew. And of course, if I tried to make any excuses to any one of them, they would manage to somehow guilt-trip me into making them a loaf. So before you knew it, I had at least 3 batches of starter going at a time to keep up with the demand, and was having to purchase flour in VERY LARGE quantities. As you can guess, what I started out doing to have better quality and less expensive bread for my family, soon became very expensive and stressful. So I just quit making it. Now I am older, wiser, and can stand my ground a bit better. So if the list of family and friends that 'wants a loaf' of one of my Sour Dough breads shows any signs of, once again, beginning to grow, I think I will simply (and politely) remind them of my Market days and where I am set up.

Here is the recipe for my BASIC Sour Dough Starter:


  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (preferably spring or filtered, not municipal tap)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast (rapid rise yeast)

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly stir dry yeast into flour.  Add water and beat until mixture is well blended.  Cover with clean cloth and leave in a warm, draft free place about 20 to 48 hours.  Stir 2 to 3 times during that time.  Look for it to ferment, bubble and develop a sour smell.  Then it is ready to use.  Makes about 3 cups.

To replenish starter:   add equal parts flour and water to remaining starter.  Stir and let stand a few hours (8 to 10 hours) at room temperature until it bubbles again before covering and refrigerating.  Replenish starter about every 2 weeks. If you need a larger amount of starter, simply replenish again during that time before you have used any more out of it.

But I warn you, once you get started, and you turn out your first successful loaf, you will be hooked and addicted! I will be updating this post with pictures as my starter progresses. I will also be posting great bread recipes that utilize the starter in future posts, so stay tuned!

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