After reading on SonyaAnn's blog about making Amish Bread, I promised to post my sourdough bread recipe (and recipe for starter), so here it is:
There are as many ways to make starter as there are cooks, but the recipe I use was found in The Tightwad Gazette III: The Final Edition. I do not have permission to quote it, but this is pretty close to exactly how it is written there.
You will need:
1 tablespoon yeast
2 cups chlorine free water (allow your tap water to "air out" in a jug for a couple of days)
2 cups white flour
Combine the above indredients in a glass, plastic, or earthware container - not a metal one. (I use a quart sized mason type jar.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours, until it foams and develops a pleasantly sour smell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (My jar has a plastic cap that we drilled a hole in. I don’t know if you need to do this, but the instructions made me think I should not seal it air tight.)
You can also get starter from a friend who makes sourdough. (The sourdough books warn that if the starter turns orange, pink, or any other strange color, you should throw it out.)
Notes on using the starter:
~Each time you remove some starter, you must "feed" it. Just add back 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups flour, stir, cover loosely, and return starter to the refrigerator.
~You can use your starter, fresh from the fridge, for weeks at a time. Eventually the loaves may start to rise a bit more slowly. Whenever this happens, just leave the jar of starter out at room temperature overnight to speed its fermentation.
~If you are an infrequent baker, you'll need to drain off some starter and feed it at least once every two weeks to keep it alive. (I never drain any off. When I haven’t baked in a while, I just feed it ½ cup flour and ½ cup water and let sit overnight.)
~The starter separates in the refrigerator. This is normal. Always stir it well before using, and stir it well again when feeding.
Sourdough Bread (To make two loaves of bread)
Also from The Tightwad Gazette III: The Final Edition:
5 1/2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)
2 cups starter
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup water
Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. (Some sourdough books say you should not use a metal bowl.) Add the starter, and then the flour. Stir, then knead into a ball. (I just throw the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid mixer, yes with the metal bowl, and mix it up. Then form it into a ball and put back into the bowl.) Cover with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature.
The next morning, punch down risen dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X-shaped slash on each top, and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about four more hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
This bread has a really crispy crust, which my family loves. I don’t know if that is because of the pan of water used while baking or it is just how it turns out. I have found that if I put it in a Ziploc bag while it is still warm, it is not as crispy when eaten later.
Since the kids all moved out, I generally freeze one loaf for later. Just pop it in a Ziploc and into the freezer. I have also made this in loaf pans with good results. We just like the round loaves.
I tried to make sourdough buns once. It did not work for me. LOL!
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