Sponge it up!

Sourdough bread is made by replacing [at least part of] the yeast with a culture, also known as the sourdough starter or sometimes “the mother.” I made this starter on Friday using this very simple recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp dry yeast (one packet)
2 cups warm water

This was placed in a large bowl and stored in a warm spot while it bubbles away. I put mine on top of the refrigerator. Note: make sure your bowl/vessel is big enough as the culture will expand quite a lot in the early stages. After a day or so it should be moved into the refrigerator until ready to use. Mine now looks like this:


The next step for sourdough bread is to make a sponge using the starter. Again a pretty simple recipe:

1 cup sourdough starter
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups warm water

Mix well in a large bowl and place in a warm spot and leave for at least 12 hours. Here’s what mine looks like, ready to make the bread today (Sunday):


Look at all of those bubbles! To create the final dough, add these to the sponge:

1 pkg active yeast (2-1.4 tsp)
1 cup warm water
1/2 Tbsp sugar

Mix the yeast first in a separate container and let it dissolve fully. Then add

4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter or shortening
1/4 tsp baking soda

Mix it all together and you’ll end up with a fairly loose/sticky dough:


I had to work in another 1/2 cup of flour to make it smooth and elastic.
Here’s what it looked like after the first rise of around one hour:

And the final product – two large boules – quite tasty, but I think it could use a bit more salt 🙂