Sourdough bread is a classic and traditional bread recipe that has been around for centuries. It features a bubbling, mass of yeast in flour usually kept in a crock that allowed someone to have access to an endless yeast supply. This required feeding the sourdough yeast starter with additions of flour and sugar, but for pioneers who couldn’t buy yeast readily it kept them suppled with all of the yeast they needed.
You’ll need to make your sourdough starter at least 1 week before making your first loaf of bread. This is why many people prefer to buy their sourdough starter already made.
To make it yourself dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast in warm water in a large, glass bowl
Whisk in the 3 cups flour and 4 teaspoons of sugar and either continue to whisk or beat with electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute or until the thin batter is smooth.
Cover loosely with a damp washcloth and let stand at room temperature for about 1 week or until the mixture is bubbly and has a sour aroma.
Don’t worry about re-moistening the washcloth, but keep the bowl covered as much as possible. The bubbles that you’ll see in the starter are caused by carbon dioxide gas. This what is released by yeast every time we bake and causes bread to rise.
Transfer the starter to a 2-quart or larger nonmetal bowl or large glass jar with a lid. Cover it tightly and refrigerate the starter until you’re ready to use.
After you’ve used the starter you can replenish it by adding a teaspoon of sugar and about 3/4 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of water and stirring it all together. Cover loosely and store in a warm place for at least a day. After a day refrigerate again.
Remember as well that you need to let any refrigerated starter come to room temperature before using. It will expand a bit as it warms up and that’s okay.
Once you have your sourdough starter established you’re ready to bake your first loaf of sourdough bread in your bread machine.
Add ingredients to the bread pan in the order indicated in the recipe.
Select the Basic White cycle for a 2-pound loaf and a medium crust. After the loaf has risen, quickly glaze the top with the egg wash, slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and let the machine finish the baking cycle.
When the bread is done, cool it on a wire rack for 10 minutes and serve.