BASIC SOURDOUGH STARTER

  Refrigerate between uses--

1 (1/4-oz.) pkg. active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

2 cups warm water (110F., 45C.)

1/3 cup nonfat-milk powder

2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

(Container for mixing starter should be large enough to allow mixture to double in bulk. Always use a nonmetal container and plastic or wooden spoons.  Metal containers and utensils produce an undesirable flavor.)
In a large nonmetal container or bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar or honey in water.  Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.  With a wooden or plastic spoon, stir in milk powder and flour.  Small lumps in batter will be dissolved by fermentation process.  Cover container with 2 to 3 layers of cheesecloth; secure with an elastic band.  Set in a warm place free from drafts.  Stir mixture several times each day.  (Clear liquid that rises to the top of the starter should be stirred back into it several times a day.)
Let stand 3 to 5 days until starter has a pleasant sour aroma and is full of bubbles.

Note: If starter turns orange or pink, undesirable bacteria have invaded it.  Mixture must be discarded.

                        --------------------------------------

To use starter, remove amount called for in recipe; bring to room temperature before preparing sponge.

Once starter is made, it may be refrigerated indefinitely, as long as it is replenished every 2 weeks.

To replenish starter, add equal amounts of flour and water. 

For instance, if you use 1 cup starter, replenish by adding 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.  Cover and let stand in a warm place overnight.  Cover and refrigerate.

If refrigerated starter is not used for 2 to 3 weeks, remove 1/2 cup and discard, or give it to a friend.  Replenish as directed above.

SAN FRANCISCO SOURDOUGH BREAD

This takes some forethought, since not only do you need to prepare the Basic Sourdough Starter in advance but you also must prepare the sponge at least 24 hours before beginning to make the dough for the final loaves. 

 

Sponge, see below                               Cornmeal, if desired

2 teaspoons salt                               1 egg white blended with

4 to 5 cups flour                           1 tablespoon water (glaze)

 

Sponge:

1 cups warm water 110F., 45C.

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3  cup nonfat-milk powder

1 cup Basic Sourdough Starter, see above

2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

Prepare Sponge. 

In large nonmetal bowl, combine all ingredients for sponge. 

Cover with a double layer of cheesecloth secure with an elastic band.  Let stand and ferment in a warm place, free from drafts, 24 to 48 hours, depending on sourness desired.  Stir once or twice a day with a wooden or plastic spoon.

When sponge is fermented and bubbly, add salt and enough flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Clean and grease bowl, set aside. 

Knead dough 10 to 12 minutes or until smooth and elastic. 

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover with a slightly damp towel.  Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Grease 2 large baking sheets or 2 (2-quart) casserole dishes.  If desired, lightly sprinkle cornmeal over baking sheets or bottoms of dishes. 

Punch down dough; knead 30 seconds.  Divide dough in half.  Shape into narrow oblong loaves with tapered ends for baking sheets or round loaves for casserole dishes.  Place on prepared baking sheets or in prepared dishes.  Cover with a dry towel.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust oven racks to 2 lowest positions.  Place a shallow roasting pan on lowest shelf; pour in 2 cups boiling water. 

Preheat oven  to 425 F (220C).  Slash tops of oblong loaves diagonally and round loaves in 3 slashes horizontally and 3 slashes vertically, in tic-tac-toe designs.  Brush slashes loaves with egg-white glaze.  Bake 15 minutes; brush again with egg-white glaze.  Remove roasting pan from oven.  Bake loaves 15 to 20 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.  Brush loaves a third time with egg-white glaze, 5 minutes before removing from oven.  Remove from dishes or baking sheets. 

Cool on racks.  

Yield:   2 loaves.

This recipe has been kitchen tested.

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