Living near San Francisco you can find Sourdough bread anywhere! The market, the grocer, the big fancy Boudin bread company... but it seems almost impossible to make yourself, but there is a way! When you hear about how to bake sourdough you think "oh, that's just too much trouble, you have to have a starter and take care of it and the bakeries have had theirs for years and that's the only way." Not true.
We decided to search for recipes for making bread and stumbled upon blogs about how to make your own starter and make your very own sourdough bread at home. This fascinated me and we decided to give it a try! (and how fun is it to have a little science experiment hanging around the fridge?) Making a starter isn't easy work... you take a cup of warm water, and a cup of fresh four (whole wheat or bread flour) stir them together and viola! So why didn't I do this before??? (See, you thought it was going to be hard!?)
So at top we have the regular all purpose flour starter, and the bottom is the whole wheat. While researching we read that whole wheat flour in the starter makes for a stronger flavor, while the all purpose or bread flour makes for a very mild bread.
So here's what you do:
1 cup of whole wheat or bread flour (make sure it's fresh!)
1 cup of warm water
Mix into a (super clean) plastic or glass container with a wooden or plastic spoon. Some metals can be reactive with the yeast that will form and your starter will be a total flop. Keep your starter in a warm area of 70-80 degrees covered, but not sealed. Then you'll want to "feed" it. Take half of the mixture out of the bowl and throw it out, then add a half a cup of flour, and a half cup of water, stir and cover again (not sealed) until you feed it again. Feeding allows the natural organisms that are forming (almost like a yeast) to "beef up" and become an even stronger organism. In the next 3-4 days your starter will start to become bubbly and puffy and take on a slight yeasty/beer smell, this is perfectly normal, and it may even end up with a watery dark substance on the surface called "hooch". Hooch is an alcohol that is made from the yeast fermenting, and should be stirred back into the starter. Once your starter is light and bubbly you can use it to make breads and can even be stored in the refridgerator and only needs to be fed once a week, sometimes less.
I'm so excited to see how this all turns out! Soon I will be baking loaves of bread out of my very own starter that I will have forever. Once I get my starters ready to bake bread with, I will post an update on how that is done along with some recipes. Until then, start starting!