Sourdough Starter Refreshment

Published March 1, 2005.

Why this recipe works:

In buying a ready-made starter for our sourdough bread recipe, we produced a flavorful loaf while eliminating the weeks of intense babysitting that cultivating a home starter requires. Turning our attention to the next two time-consuming stages of a sourdough recipe—sponge development and… read more

In buying a ready-made starter for our sourdough bread recipe, we produced a flavorful loaf while eliminating the weeks of intense babysitting that cultivating a home starter requires. Turning our attention to the next two time-consuming stages of a sourdough recipe—sponge development and fermentation for the dough—we discovered that the time required for both steps could be reduced from two nights to just one day, again without sacrificing flavor. On a roll, we also tried to finish the third step—proofing the shaped loaves—on the same day, but we determined that they really did need to spend the time overnight in the refrigerator, since the loaves proofed at room temperature didn't achieve the same wonderfully irregular crumb and deep, nutty sourness.

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If you do not already have a starter, dried starter packets (sold by mail and in some natural foods stores) or fresh mail-order starters (see Where to Shop) work well. Follow the package directions to get the starter going, then follow the directions below for feeding once the starter is going strong. No matter where you get your starter and how carefully you maintain it, you should refresh it according to the instructions below before using in the Sourdough Bread recipe. Use King Arthur, Hodgson Mill, Heckers, or Ceresota all-purpose flour or Gold Medal or Pillsbury bread flour. Use filtered or bottled water; chlorinated tap water may affect the development of the culture.

Ingredients

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