I hope I don’t jinx my bread baking by posting this, but I think I’m happy enough with my sourdough that I’ll post all the little details for posterity.
Adapted from “Grandmother’s Sour-Dough Starter” from Uncle John’s Original Bread Book by John Rahn Braué:
2 cups reserved potato water
2 cups whole rye flour
1/4 cup homebrew hefeweizen
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Boil potates, then peel and mash them in 2 cups of the water they were boiled in. Add remaining ingredients and let stand covered for 4 days, stirring daily.
Using and Feeding the Starter
I began my starter in a 1 gallon crock to get it started. I fed it several times without taking any out to be sure I had a lively starter. I have since moved it to a quart jar and aim to keep it half full when it is in the refrigerator waiting for the next use. I always have my starter covered with a paper towel held on by a rubber band, so it has lots of wild yeast in it by now.
I typically use 1 cup of starter and replace that with a feeding of 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup water. If I’m making two loaves, I’ll feed the starter in the morning without taking any out so I’ll have about 3 cups in the jar. Then that evening I can pull out two cups and replace it with 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup water to get it back to a half full quart jar with 2 cups of starter to go back in the refrigerator. A lot of what I’ve read says to feed equal parts flour and water by weight. That makes for a pretty thick starter and tends to make it rise and overflow rather than bubble and release some of the gas from the fermentation.
My preferred recipe is a dutch oven bread boule. You can use the starter for pretty much anything you can think of, but this is my favorite (so far).
1 cup starter
1 cup whey (or water)
20 ounces flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Set starter out in the morning to warm up and feed if making more than one loaf. In the evening, mix starter, whey (or water), oil, sugar and salt. Add the flour and “knead” until the dough has come together. I say “knead” in quotes because I use the KitchenAid. Cover and let sit overnight. I leave my dough in the KitchenAid mixer bowl and cover with the plastic lid made for the bowl.
In the morning, punch down the dough, shape into a boule, and place in the dutch over to rise for 45-90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 45 minutes. Brush the surface of the loaf with water or oil and sprinkle with large crystal salt if desired. I prefer water with Himalayan rock salt. Cut the surface with a knife to about 1/2″ deep to allow the crust to split as it bakes. I like cutting a # in the top to get that neat little square on top with crunchy edges.
Put the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. If you love that warm bread with melted butter experience, heat the slice bread up slightly when you are ready to eat it.
So that’s it… my “house” bread. Let me know if you want a starter… apparently these things are like zucchini and you’re supposed to give them to your friends!