In Laura's day, yeast was hard to come by so instead they used a old form of fermentation to create that same lift for breads and doughs that yeast will give you today.
"But how do you make the sour dough?" Mrs. Boast asked. "You start it," said Ma, "by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours." "Then when you use it, always leave a little," said Laura. "And put in the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water." Laura put in the warm water, "and cover it," she put a clean cloth and the plate on the jar, "and just set it in a warm place," she set it in its place on the shelf by the stove. "And it's always ready to use whenever you want it." ~ By the Shores of Silver Lake
Making sourdough bread is a great way to make bread and avoid using yeast. When you create sourdough it not only creates lactic acid(a natural preservative) it creates good bacteria that will bake into your breads.
So today we are going to work on making a sourdough starter, this is part 1 of a 2 part post. Since sourdough takes a few days to get started, I will provide a follow up post and recipes after we get it going.
I sure I'll hear about using white flour instead of whole wheat flour. The truth is, we tried sourdough with whole wheat flour before and we did not like it. I have a hard enough time just getting regular whole wheat bread to go over well in our house much less sourdough whole wheat. So this time we are going to try it with my regular unbleached white flour.
Mix together 1 cup of flour(any kind) and 1 cup of water. That's it.
Cover the jar with a loose covering. I used cheesecloth and a metal rim for mine. The sourdough needs to be able to breath but you don't really need bugs or hair to fall into it.
Every 12 hours you will "feed" the starter 1/4 c. flour and 1/4 c. room temp water. Stir it well and set it back in a warm place. You will keep doing this until you start to see some nice bubbling going on in your jars. During this process, when you feed you starter, if it gets liquid on the top, pour it off first before you mix up the starter, otherwise your sourdough bread will be really sour.
Once we start to see some good bubbling going on we will be able to start using this in foods. I will cover that in Part II.
Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!
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