*  Exported from  MasterCook  *
 Recipe By     : 
 Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
 Categories    : Breads
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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    1                    Info
   “Those hot griddlecakes the forty-niners forked from
   the frying pan before setting out to dig for gold
   were, no doubt, sourdough pancakes.  The hot biscuits
   so treasured by cowboys riding the dusty trail were
   most likely sourdough biscuits.  The life sustaining
   bread baked by pioneer women in crude stone ovens was
   probably sourdough bread.  After the California gold
   rush, when the Klondike prospectors sailed from San
   Francisco to Alaska, they carried precious sourdough
   starter with them - and ever since sourdough bread has
   been assiciated with San Francisco.  And in Alaska, a
   prospector with a pot of sourdough strapped to his
   back was quickly nicknamed a ”sourdough“.
   ”As the population swelled westward during the last
   century, the practice of keeping a small amopunt of
   yesterday’s dough alive to “start” tomorrow’s bread
   was carried from one coast to the next, just as it had
   been carried from the Old World to the New.
   Archaeologists claim that leavened bread was first
   developed around 4,000 B.C., when using starters must
   have been the only way to accomplish leavening. Surely
   ancient bakers guarded their supplies zealously, just
   as thousands of years later propectors would tuck the
   sourdough pot into their bedroll at night to keep it
   warm and safe.
   “To this day, the distinctive flavor of so many
   European and Russian breads, as well as the famous San
   Francisco version of sourdough bread, is derived from
   the use of a sourdough starter.  A starter is simply a
   self-perpetuating yeast mixture.  Traditionally it was
   made by mixing flour and water with a cooked potato or
   fruit such as wine grapes or ripe bananas.  Organisms
   in the flour and the germenting fruit attracted the
   wild yeast spores ubiquitous in an unpollouted
   environment, and a starter was easy to begin.  Today,
   this method is not always reliable owing to variables
   such as chlorinated water and pesticide treated flour,
   fruits and vegetables.
   ”We've developed an easy sourdough starter by
   combining unbleached all-purpose flour, bakers active
   dry yeast, and water.  With minimal care, the starter
   can be maintained for years and stored in the
   refrigerator (see box).  Since yeast is a single-cell
   fungus, its metabolic activity causes fermentation.
   As the yeast cells multiply and feed on the
   carbohydrates in the flour - which in turn give off
   carbon dioxide, alcohol and other compounds - the
   ongoing activity gives the sourdough starter its sour
   aroma and tart flavor.
   “Keeping a pot of sourdough going in your refrigerator
   opens up all sorts of possibilities.  Breads have an
   assertive tang and keep longer than other home-baked
   breads.  Biscuits share the same distinctive flavor
   and are moist and fluffy.  Sourdough pancakes have a
   delicate texture and a subtle flavor that your family
   will clamor for on Sunday mornings.  We're sure that
   once you begin baking with sourdough, you will become
   a convert for life.
   “o Using and maintaining a sourdough starter is a
   cyclical process; you must always replace what you
   remove from the crock.  If well maintained, a
   sourdough culture will last a lifetime.  Each time you
   take a portion of the starter for a recipe, replace
   that amount with equal quantities of water and flour.
   For example, if you remove 1 cup of starter to make
   Sourdough Country Bread, you must replace it with 1
   cup of lukewarm water (100F) and 1 cup of unbleached
   all-purpose flour.  Whisk these ingredients into the
   starter until blended but not completely smooth.  Any
   remaining lumps will dissolve as the mixture ferments.
   Cover and leave the starter at room temperature for at
   least 12 hours or overnight.  The starter is now ready
   to be used again, or can be refrigerated.
   ”o Use a 2-quart non-metal crock or bowl to store the
   starter.  This wat, the replenishing starter
   ingredients can be mixed directly in the storage
   “o Maintain the starter by stirring it at least once a
   week.  This invigorates the yeast and expels some of
   the alcohol.  If you do not use the starter every two
   weeks or so, refresh it by removing 1 cup of the
   starter (give it to a friend or discard it), and
   adding 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 cup
   of lukewarm (100F) water. Whisk until blended.  Cover
   and leave at room temperature 12 hours or overnight
   before returning it to the refrigerator.
   ”o If you plan to be away or know you will not use the
   starter frequently, freeze it in a sterilized,
   air-tight freeezer container. Thaw the starter two
   days before you plan on baking with it, transferring
   it to a 2 quart non-metal storage container.  Refresh
   the starter withg 1 cup each of water and flour.
   Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 hours or
   overnight before using.  It’s a good idea to freeze
   the starter in two containers; you can keep the second
   one frozen indefinitely to serve as a backup should
   anything happen to the thawed starter."
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