Sourdough basics from starter to finish
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Sourdough basics from starter to finish
  Sourdough    Basics    Starters  
Last updated 6/12/2012 1:23:40 AM. Recipe ID 56862. Report a problem with this recipe.
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      Title: Sourdough basics from starter to finish
 Categories: Sourdough, Breads, Info
      Yield: 1 Servings
      1    Info
  "Those hot griddlecakes the forty-niners forked from the frying pan
  before setting out to dig for gold were, no doubt, sourdough
  pancakes. The hot biscuits so treasured by cowboys riding the dusty
  trail were most likely sourdough biscuits.  The life sustaining bread
  baked by pioneer women in crude stone ovens was probably sourdough
  bread. After the California gold rush, when the Klondike prospectors
  sailed from San Francisco to Alaska, they carried precious sourdough
  starter with them - and ever since sourdough bread has been
  assiciated with San Francisco. And in Alaska, a prospector with a pot
  of sourdough strapped to his back was quickly nicknamed a "sourdough".
  "As the population swelled westward during the last century, the
  practice of keeping a small amopunt of yesterday's dough alive to
  "start" tomorrow's bread was carried from one coast to the next, just
  as it had been carried from the Old World to the New. Archaeologists
  claim that leavened bread was first developed around 4,000 B.C., when
  using starters must have been the only way to accomplish leavening.
  Surely ancient bakers guarded their supplies zealously, just as
  thousands of years later propectors would tuck the sourdough pot into
  their bedroll at night to keep it warm and safe.
  "To this day, the distinctive flavor of so many European and Russian
  breads, as well as the famous San Francisco version of sourdough
  bread, is derived from the use of a sourdough starter. A starter is
  simply a self-perpetuating yeast mixture.  Traditionally it was made
  by mixing flour and water with a cooked potato or fruit such as wine
  grapes or ripe bananas.  Organisms in the flour and the germenting
  fruit attracted the wild yeast spores ubiquitous in an unpollouted
  environment, and a starter was easy to begin.  Today, this method is
  not always reliable owing to variables such as chlorinated water and
  pesticide treated flour, fruits and vegetables.
  "We've developed an easy sourdough starter by combining unbleached
  all-purpose flour, bakers active dry yeast, and water. With minimal
  care, the starter can be maintained for years and stored in the
  refrigerator (see box).  Since yeast is a single-cell fungus, its
  metabolic activity causes fermentation. As the yeast cells multiply
  and feed on the carbohydrates in the flour - which in turn give off
  carbon dioxide, alcohol and other compounds - the ongoing activity
  gives the sourdough starter its sour aroma and tart flavor.
  "Keeping a pot of sourdough going in your refrigerator opens up all
  sorts of possibilities.  Breads have an assertive tang and keep
  longer than other home-baked breads. Biscuits share the same
  distinctive flavor and are moist and fluffy.  Sourdough pancakes have
  a delicate texture and a subtle flavor that your family will clamor
  for on Sunday mornings. We're sure that once you begin baking with
  sourdough, you will become a convert for life.
  "o Using and maintaining a sourdough starter is a cyclical process;
  you must always replace what you remove from the crock. If well
  maintained, a sourdough culture will last a lifetime.  Each time you
  take a portion of the starter for a recipe, replace that amount with
  equal quantities of water and flour. For example, if you remove 1 cup
  of starter to make Sourdough Country Bread, you must replace it with
  1 cup of lukewarm water (100F) and 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose
  flour. Whisk these ingredients into the starter until blended but not
  completely smooth. Any remaining lumps will dissolve as the mixture
  ferments. Cover and leave the starter at room temperature for at
  least 12 hours or overnight. The starter is now ready to be used
  again, or can be refrigerated.
  "o Use a 2-quart non-metal crock or bowl to store the starter. This
  wat, the replenishing starter ingredients can be mixed directly in
  the storage container.
  "o Maintain the starter by stirring it at least once a week. This
  invigorates the yeast and expels some of the alcohol. If you do not
  use the starter every two weeks or so, refresh it by removing 1 cup
  of the starter (give it to a friend or discard it), and adding 1 cup
  of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 cup of lukewarm (100F) water.
  Whisk until blended. Cover and leave at room temperature 12 hours or
  overnight before returning it to the refrigerator.
  "o If you plan to be away or know you will not use the starter
  frequently, freeze it in a sterilized, air-tight freeezer container.
  Thaw the starter two days before you plan on baking with it,
  transferring it to a 2 quart non-metal storage container.  Refresh
  the starter withg 1 cup each of water and flour. Cover and leave at
  room temperature for 12 hours or overnight before using.  It's a good
  idea to freeze the starter in two containers; you can keep the second
  one frozen indefinitely to serve as a backup should anything happen
  to the thawed starter."

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Recipe ID 56862 (Apr 03, 2005)

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