If you’re interested in making bread at home, the best bread to start with is an old fashioned sour dough. It is fairly simple to make and uses only a few basic ingredients. Because it is made in phases, it can be made to fit well into a busy mom’s routine. It’s slightly tangy flavor is delicious and pairs well with almost any soup, stew, chili or egg dish. Making sour dough begins with keeping a starter. A starter is a combination of flour, water and yeast which is kept in a cool place and allowed to ferment. A bit is taken out and is added to other ingredients to form a ‘sponge’, which forms the beginning of sour dough bread dough.
There are a couple of tricks to using a starter. First, always replace the amount you take out. This may be done by adding back equal amounts of flour and water to the starter when some is taken out or let the sponge set overnight and replace one cup of the sponge into the starter before the other ingredients are added. Second, use the starter at least every 2 weeks. Yeast is living and will starve if not fed. If you’re not planning to use the starter, be sure to feed it by adding 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup of flour and allowing it to sit in a warm spot overnight.
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 cups white flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add flour and stir. Cover with a clean towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 3 days, stirring occasionally. The mixture will rise, then separate into a yeasty smelling liquid (called hootch) and a heavier flour paste. Just stir it back into the flour mixture and don’t worry about the gray color of the liquid.
The starter will be ready to use in 3 days. Store it in the refrigerator in a glass, ceramic, or plastic container with a lid that is not tightly fastened–the bubbling yeast might explode in a tightly fastened jar.