Ever thought about baking your own sourdough bread? If you have, you may have learned that unlike your standard bread doughs, for which you can use active dry yeast available in any supermarket, all sourdough begins with a cultivated yeast called a starter. Though it sounds mysterious and totally complicated, making a starter for sourdough bread is actually easier than you may have expected. You'll only use a little bit each time you bake, and you can continue growing your starter in the refrigerator between baking sessions.
- Cooking and Prep: 20 m
- Serves: 6
Prepare the Starter
Sterilize a two-quart ceramic or glass container and dry with a clean cloth. Add the yeast and half a cup of water and stir to dissolve. With a wooden or plastic spoon, stir in the remaining water, then the flour. If desired, insert the onions in the cheesecloth into the center.
Cover (with its own lid or plastic wrap) and let stand at room temperature, stirring once a day, until bubbly and sour smelling, at least three days. If using the onion, remove and discard after 24 hours.
Stir the starter, then add all the "feed" ingredients. Let stand at room temperature until the mixture begins to bubble, at least six hours.
At this point you can either use the starter or cover loosely (to allow the bubbles to escape) and refrigerate until needed. Let the starter stand at room temperature for at least one hour before using. Whenever the starter is used, replace with equal parts of flour and warm water. (Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon and not metal.) Place in a warm place until bubbly, at least six hours or overnight, before returning to the refrigerator for storage.
If the starter is not used within one week, it must be bolstered by stirring in an additional one cup flour (use a blend of wheat and rye flour if desired) mixed with one cup warm water. Let stand at room temperature until the mixture begins to bubble, at least six hours, then cover loosely and refrigerate.