As hinted from the name, sourdough is slightly sour. The secret to this distinctive taste is the addition of a sourdough starter, which is just a portion of dough that has been allowed to ferment. The fermentation produces carbon dioxide and acidic components that not only make the product sour but also light and fluffy.
Sourdough is one of the oldest forms of leavened bread. Ancients Egyptians have made it since1500 BC.
Fast forward to the Gold Rush in California and the Boudin family, a French famous baking family from, realized how unique the sourdough culture was and established the now famous Boudin Bakery.
Their bakery in San Francisco quickly became famous for their version of sourdough which was called the “Mother dough” and this recipe even survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Aside from being a great bread, it also spearheaded the creation of the Acme Bread Company, which officially established the standard for all artisanal bread in the United States.
So how do you make your own sourdough starter? The process takes some time and effort, but can easily be done if you follow these easy directions.
1) Mix an equal (by weight) amount of all purpose flour and water.
2)Because wild yeast exists in the air around us, mix the flour and water until flour pockets are thoroughly mixed throughout.
3) Leave the mixture overnight, preferably in room temperature (70-75 degrees Fahrenheit) as wild yeast is scarce in places such as the refrigerator. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap so the yeast has an entrance.
4) The next day, the mixture should look a bit frothy and smell slightly acidic and yeast-like.
5) Same as the first day, mix an equal (by weight) amount of all purpose and feed it into the previous day’s mixture. Stir well.
6) Repeat this process over five days.
7) By the fifth day, you have a fully functional sourdough starter! To maintain it or if you’d like the taste to be more sore, discard half of it, and feed it again. Otherwise, it is good to go and ready to be baked.
8) If storing for a long time, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. If storing in the fridge, do the half-discard method and feed again once a week.
Sure there's a lot of waiting, but after the time has passed, you'll have a delicious, healthy bread that'll last for (hopefully) generations.