Rise to the occasion and create your own healthy version of “Pandemic Sourdough Starter” for Bread Making.
Has your search for yeast recently fallen flat? Suppliers are having a hard time keeping up with demand it seems. So, why not capture your own yeast? Create your own sour dough starter for artisan bread that you and your family will love! I interviewed my favorite baker for the details on creating your very own unique sourdough starter. Here is what he said!
You will need: a bowl or container big enough to hold 2 quarts, aluminum foil or a loose fitting lid of some type, rye flour–not bleached (Hodgson Mill Stone Ground Rye Flour works well,) general purpose white flour.
Combine about 1 cup rye flour, 1/4 cup general purpose white flour, and 2/3 cup room temperature water. Stir. Cover. Set bowl aside on counter for 2 days. Then stir well and take out 1/2 cup of the mixture and dump the rest out. Dump the 1/2 cup of mixture you just removed back in your container or bowl and add 1 cup general purpose white flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water. Stir. Then, once a day for the next five days or so repeat, Keep 1/2 cup of the mixture, dump the rest, add 1 cup white flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water and give it a stir. Remember to always stir before removing the 1/2 cup of mixture. You should see bubbles after about the third day. (You probably won’t see much of anything from the rye flour as it is not sticky enough to hold bubbles.) After six days your starter should be ready.
If you want a speedier process, after day three you can repeat the feeding process every 12 hours if you would like. After four or five days your mixture will double in volume within 4 hours after feeding .
To make Artisan Bread: Use 1/2 cup starter, 2 cups white all purpose flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 tablespoon salt for 1 loaf. Or, 1 cup starter, 4 cups general purpose white flour, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt for 2 loaves. If you use 2 cups general purpose white flour and 2 cups bread flour your bread will have a chewier texture because bread flour is made from Hard Winter Wheat (aka Red Wheat) which contains more gluten/protein.
Mix starter and water in bowl and beat with mixer. Dump flour on top and stir with a butter knife until ragged looking. Once mixed, dump mixture in another bowl. Clean first bowl and wipe sides with Crisco and dump mixture back in first bowl and cover. Reminder, your mixture will expand. Wait 1 day. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Then take 2 squares of aluminum foil and wipe with Crisco and dust with flour. If you are making 2 loaves, dump 1/2 mixture on each square of foil. Dump all of your mixture on an aluminum foil square if making 1 loaf. Gather corners of foil and lightly twist on top to keep dough from spreading out like a pancake. Heat Dutch Oven or cast iron pot in oven with lid off kettle but both pot and lid in oven. Heat at 450 degrees until hot. Place one dough filled packet in pot, put lid on and bake with lid on for 25-30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for about another 10 minutes. Repeat for second loaf.
For regular bread, knead and then let rise in greased bread pan until about 1 inch below edge of pan. The baker being interviewed likes to cover the bread pan with the dough in it with another empty greased bread pan flipped upside down. The kneading will give your bread a finer texture. The less you work your dough the more rustic the finished product.
Store your cooled bread in a brown paper lunch bag or in the foil you baked it in.
Store your starter in the fridge if you are not using it a lot. Feed it a 2:1 ratio of white flour to water every 2-3 days. To maintain consistent volume keep 1/2 cup starter and add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water with each feeding. The more fridge time the more sour your starter will be. Storing your starter at room temperature will make for a more mild flavor starter but you have to feed it more.
Forgot about your starter? No worries. Your starter will end up with liquid gullies of clear or yellow fluid on top. Just stir and go back to your normal feeding routine. If it turns green or black then throw it out.
Rye flour is ground in a way that retains wild field yeast on it in a balance with natural bacteria that will take off in a rowdy sourdough starter for you. Enjoy and thank you for taking time to read this!