I don’t know about anyone else’s opinion but my favorite type of bread is sourdough – with a hearty rye coming in at a very close second. There is just something about the mildly sour taste that isn’t found in other breads that draws me. The wonderfully crusty outer shell combined with the soft, chewy interior. What’s not to love? Quite a few years ago I discovered a specific book that encompassed “wild” fermentation in all its glory. This book encompassed everything from sauerkraut, kefir & miso to sourdough bread. In the presence of the growing popularity of fermented foods (along with the health benefits that go along with it), this book offered a do-it-yourself approach to cultural manipulation. Since that time one can usually spy a mason jar on my counter with an intriguing goop bubbling inside. Sourdough starter. With this starter, once a week can yield 2 decent sized loaves of bread if one keeps it going. It’s honestly very simple to keep this going and get it started. Here’s how:
In a quart sized mason jar, mix 2 cups of warm (bath temperature) water with four tablespoons of either honey or molasses and 1 cup of flour. I personally prefer this recipe using honey. The molasses seemed to overpower the flavor I was aiming for. However, they both serve the same purpose of attracting and simulating yeast. Likewise, any kind of flour will do. Stir the mixture vigorously and cover it with cheesecloth to allow free air circulation. This batter will attract yeast from the air. Sounds crazy I know. I was skeptical but it really works. Store your jar in a warm place with good air circulation and “visit” it at least daily – giving it a enthusiastic stir. The more agitation it has, the greater exposure it receives to the yeast that will transform it. After a number of days you will notice tiny bubbles forming at the surface and how you can tell the yeast is active. The number of exact days for yeast to colonize will depend on your environment. Once this occurs start adding roughly ¼ cup to your mixture daily. After 3 or 4 days the batter will get thicker & start to rise & voila! You now have the base for your first batch of bread. Simple enough, right? I will continue next week with the bread recipe I usually use, as well as some other delicious options for this “starter”.