Sourdough With Gusto!

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

My name is Virginia.  I am the bossy big sister.  I have 2.5 children, Aurora 10, Marie-Eve 2, and Baby Surprise 21 weeks gestation.  I also have a very French husband, Ian.  I work full time, and will be starting my maternity leave in two weeks.  My sister’s instructions on writing a submission to her blog went as follows, “Make something, take pictures, and email them to me.”  Actually I’m not even sure she used that many words but you get the gist.  So after a long week of wondering what I could write about I narrowed down the options.  Every Monday, on my day off I make bread.  From scratch.  I also spend that day planning the weekly meals and listing my ‘To Do’s’ for that week.  So this being my first post I decided to write about my recent bread creation.
I have dived into sourdough with gusto.  Sourdough bread is fairly well known.  It begins, as does everything else in life, with a starter.  A sour dough starter is made up of naturally occurring yeast bacteria in a long fermenting dough.  As opposed to cultivated yeast which rises much faster.  Most modern day sourdough enthusiasts use a recipe of cultivated yeast that has been fermented for a long period of time to achieve the same sourness as natural yeast.  This is the route I have taken.  I mixed up my starter *recipe to follow* and set the mason jar on the counter.  As an afterthought I put a metal bowl underneath it.  Which turned out to be a VERY good idea as my starter tried to take over my kitchen.  Imagine The Blob, only yeasty and not pink goo.  It quickly grew out of the mason jar and almost filled the bowl beneath.

After the yeast had settled I gave my nice bowl of goo a warm place on my counter to sit and sour.  You have to feed your starter everyday or the yeast will die off from lack of food.  I mixed ¼ cup warm water and ¼ cup flour and mixed it in with the starter every night.  Some people feed theirs twice a day but I didn’t want a massive quantity.  I also gave it a pinch of sugar every other day to keep my yeast happy and to keep the fermentation from becoming bitter.  After a week it had soured nicely and had a strong yeasty smell to it.  Which means it’s time to bake!  I found an insanely good recipe that uses more yeast in the dough, just in case your starter did not develop a strong enough yeast culture.  Which means it is pretty fool proof.

There are tons of reasons to make your own bread.  For one, it tastes good, and you know exactly what went into it.  And the process itself is incredibly rewarding.  Taking the better part of a day to create something that makes your whole family smile is very much worth the time and energy.  Blessings!

Sour Dough Starter
2 ¼ tsp Yeast
2 cups warm water
2 cups flour

1.    In large non-metallic bowl, mix together dry yeast, 2 cups warm water, and 2 cups all purpose flour and cover loosely.

2.  Leave in a warm place to ferment, 4 to 8 days.  Depending on temperature and humidity of kitchen, times may vary.  Place on cookie sheet in case of overflow. Check on occasionally.

3.  When mixture is bubbly and has a pleasant sour smell, it is ready to use.  If mixture has a pink, orange, or any other strange color tinge to it, THROW IT OUT and start over.  Keep it in the refrigerator, covered until ready to bake.

4.  When you use starter to bake, always replace with equal amounts of a flour and water mixture with a pinch of sugar.  So, if you remove 1 cup starter, replace with 1 cup water and 1 cup flour.  Mix well and leave out on the counter until bubbly again, then refrigerate.  If a clear to light brown liquid has accumulated on top, don’t worry, this is an alcohol base liquid that occurs with fermentation.  Just stir this back into the starter, the alcohol bakes off and that wonderful sourdough flavor remains!

Sourdough starters improve with age, they
used to be passed down generation to generation!

Sour Dough Bread
4 ¾ cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp white suagr
2 ½ tsp salt
2 ¼ active yeast
1 cup warm milk
2 tbsp softened butter
1 ½ cups sour dough starter

1.  In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast. Add milk and softened butter or margarine. Stir in starter.  Mix in up to 3 3/4 cups flour gradually, you may need more depending on your climate.

2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turn once to oil surface, and cover.  Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.

3.  Punch down, and let rest 15 minutes.  Shape into loaves.  Place in greased loaf pans.  Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.

4.  Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or till done.

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