Several years ago I acquired a small amount of dehydrated
sourdough starter called “Carl Griffiths 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough” from www.carlsfriends.org for simply sending them
a SASE. I have kept this starter going ever since and
have made innumerable loaves of various bread recipes
using this started as the only leavening agent.
No commercial yeast required. The basic recipe consists
of flour, water, salt, and the sourdough starter along with
any extra flavorings like garlic, olives, caraway seeds, etc.
The most recent variation I am making and enjoying is a type
that needs not be kneaded. In the summer when I’m so busy with
other things not having to knead the bread makes it easier to
get it done when time is short.
But before I get into the baking of the bread let’s start with the starter.
The dehydrated starter I received was only a fraction of a teaspoon so I placed half of it into a clean pint jar and added two tablespoons of water. Simply cool tap water. If your water is chlorinated just let some sit out in an open container for a day or two. I have well water so it is not chlorinated. I have been told that the chlorination interferes with the growth of the wild yeasts in the starter.
Put on a plastic cap or cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap. Don’t screw the cover on tight because the gasses must be able to escape as the starter works.
After fifteen or twenty minutes add two table spoons of bread flour (all purpose flour may also be used) and stir the mixture into a thin slurry. Put the cover back on and set it aside over night.
The next morning it should show signs of life. Bubbles and or some foam. Now add a quarter cup of flour and a quarter cup of water, mix well and allow it to sit over night again. The next morning the bubbles and or foam should be more plentiful.
Repeat the addition of flour and water again this time one cup of each and again mix well. This amount will fit into a quart jar. If your initial jar was smaller just transfer the contents into a larger one.
You can really use almost any type of container glass, plastic, or ceramic but NOT metal. Also you should not use a metal utensil to stir the mixture. I simply use a thin wooden dowel.
The next morning after this last feeding you can use the starter to make your bread.
If you use one cup for your bread simply replace equal amounts of flour and water to bring the level in the jar back to where it was and you will be able to take another cup out the next day.
It is a good idea to put the jar into a soup bowl while it is working because if you put in a bit too much water and flour it will foam up and can ooze out from under the loosely fitted lid or plastic wrap cover. I should really use a bigger container!
If after you have removed the amount of starter you are going to use and you will not be baking the next day don’t replenish the flour and water right away. The starter that is left in the jar can be left alone for several days and the flour and water should be added the day before you intend to make bread so the starter you will use will be at its peak of activity.
If you will not be using the starter for more than a few days just refrigerate it. That will slow the process down a lot and can be left alone for a week or two.
Coming next, the baking of the bread.