There may be a time when you run out of yeast for baking or it becomes scarce after a long-term catastrophe. Without yeast, light, fluffy breads become flat, unleavened, heavy breads like corn bread, hard-tack and brick-like loaves. When you have the need to leaven bread but are out of yeast – making a sourdough starter is the solution to leavened bread .
Sourdough starter is a natural leaven. It can be made simply by mixing flour and water into a thick paste, cover and leave out at room temperature for a few days. A fermentation process will begin and become inhabited by “natural” bacteria and yeasts which will flavor and leaven the bread dough.
Feed your starter daily by first stirring the starter. Add 2 teaspoons flour and 2-3 teaspoons water. Mix slightly leaving starter – slightly lumpy. Cover the container. The sourdough starter is ready to use when you have at least 1 cup starter built up; it is bubbling and smells slightly sour. Hello – “natural yeasty” friends.
To make a loaf of sourdough bread simply mix 2.5 cups flour in a bowl with 1 teaspoon salt. add 1/2 cup sourdough starter and 1-1 1/2 cups luke-warm water. Mix until all flour is mixed into the dough and it is sticky but not wet. Add small amounts of water and mix if needed. Cover the bowl and set in a warm place until dough doubles in size (1-2 hours)
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a counter sprinkled with flour. Knead the dough into a loaf form. Place dough loaf into a well greased bread loaf pan. Oil loaf top, cover with plastic bag and place in warm area until dough rises above loaf pan.
Bake in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees F. for 30-35 minutes. Sourdough bread should appear light brown, crusty and sound hollow when tapped. Pull from oven and let rest 10 minutes before removing from pan. Wait until cool before slicing.
This is a very basic sourdough recipe. Experiment by adding ingredients like cinnamon, raisins, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, fruit and nuts. Make dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns by changing dough size and shape.
Use starter to make sourdough flapjacks (pancakes or griddlecakes) by simply adding 2 parts of flour to 1 part sourdough starter. Add water and mix until batter is runny. Prepare by pouring batter onto a hot, oiled griddle or fry pan. Flip with a spatula when bubbles pop through batter. Sourdough cakes are finished when golden drown and edges appear dry.
Remember that your sourdough starter is – “ALIVE” – and hungry!
Be sure to Continue feeding your sourdough starter at least every other day. You can slow down the fermenting process by placing the covered sourdough starter in a refrigerator.
Traditionally – sourdough starter was a valued family possession. Starter was often handed down and shared throughout generations and kept alive to bake leavened – yeasty bakery for many, many years.
Baking leavened bread with sourdough starter is a baby step to yumminess!