Sour Dough is the oldest type of leavened bread. It’s been made since at least 1500bc. The earliest record of yeast breads is by the Egyptians. When a loaf of bread was made, a small piece was saved. The next day when they made their bread, they added the previous day’s piece to the dough. And they continued this everyday. This was their starter, it contained a combination of yeast, and bacteria. The yeast and bacteria grew when introduced to the dough. The yeast in the bread provides the lifting power, by creating bubbles of carbon dioxide, while the bacteria provides the sourness, and increased the acidity which slows yeast growth. The Sour Dough recipe below is a san francisco style sour dough. Technically any bread made with a starter is a sour dough, and will have a slight tanginess to it. This type of breadmaking was popular up until about the last 100 years. In the wild west, the cook always had started and guarded it carefully. If something happened to it, they would be unable to make bread for almost a week. Sour Dough breads were very popular with the miners in California, when prospecting for gold. When prospectors went to the Yukon, they brought sour dough starter with them. A starter is pretty easy to keep alive. If feed at least once a week, and not kept too hot. Even if it becomes frozen, once thawed will be just fine. Starters can live indefinitly, some bakers say their starters are over a 150 years old.
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tsp yogurt with live culture
a pinch of yeast
This recipe is cheating, but always works. The traditional way is listed below. Mix the ingredients in a jar. This should be kept warm. Each day add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. When the jar gets too full, throw away half of it. Do this for about 4 days. Then you can feed the starter every 3 days. The jar can now be sealed with a lid with holes.
Starter Recipe B
1 cup water
1 cup flour
Mix the flour and water in a jar, and set by a slightly open window. This should be kept warm. Each day add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. When the jar gets too full, throw away half of it. Do this for about 4 days. Then you can feed the starter every 3 days. The jar can now be moved away from the window, and a lid with holes can be placed on it.
Sour Dough Recipe
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup starter at room temp
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp barley malt
Mix all ingredients together.
Then in a mixer using a dough hook, mix at low to med for 8 minutes.
When the dough sticks to the hook and starts climbing turn up the the speed to knock it back down, then turn the speed back down.
Place dough in a greased bowl with a wet cloth covering it, for 8 hours. Then remove dough and kneed a few times to get rid of larger air bubbles. Return to bowl with damp towel, and let rise another 2 hours.
Place dough into large dutch oven for another 2 hours, covered again with the cloth. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the top of the bread a few times with a sharp knife, this allows the bread to rise more, because the crust is a little drier and won’t allow as much expansion. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with water. Put the dutch oven lid back on. Place into oven.
After 15 minutes remove the lid. Turn off the oven, the bread will bake the rest of the way without additional heat. The bread should be done in about 20 more minutes. Don’t open the oven door, look through the glass to see if done. If the oven door is opened too much heat will escape, and you may need to turn the oven back on. After top is golden brown remove from oven. Let sit 30 minutes, before cutting. You have to wait 30 minutes or your bread won’t have time to make a proper crumb. Crumb is what the inside of the bread is called.