"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 the 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."
from By the Shores of Silver Lake
The last time I used sour dough starter a friend had given me some. Well, I let that go during our move and want to make sour dough bread again from time to time.
A sour dough starter is a leaven that develops from microscopic wild yeast and bacteria present in the air.
I found this recipe in The Little House Cookbook and wanted to share my experience with making the starter.To begin you need:
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup bloodwarm water
Quart sized glass mason jar or similar
Cheescloth or muslin with rubberband for cover
Mix the flour and water in the jar and stir with the end of a wooden spoon. I covered the jar with a cut out piece of unbleached muslin and secured with a rubber band. Then the jar was placed on our mantle by the woodstove.
The batter must be warmed, but not hot - between 80 - 95 degrees F. Let the jar stand until the batter bubbles and rises. This may take anywhere from overnight to a week, depending on how warm it gets. Bubbles in the dough and expanded volume, or rising, are the chief signs that the starter is "alive" and working. The aroma should be pleasantly sour, the texture tacky. If after several days the batter has developed only a bad smell, throw it out and start again.
After your starter is "alive", store in the refrigerator if it will not be used for a couple of days. Your starter must also be fed. Every day add 1 T. flour and nearly 1 T. warm water and stir. Leave out for a few hours. Return to refrigerator.
When using the sour dough starter, always leave about 1/2 cup - 1 cup in the jar. You will then need to add another 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup warm water to build the starter back up.
I will share how my starter is doing tomorrow and what I do next with it as well as a recipe or two as I bake with it.