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Sourdough starter is 12 years old

By Staff | Nov 20, 2009

Bonnie Leist, left, of Rowan, and her daughter, Robin Meyer, of Dows, both use sourdough starter in preparing bread for their families and for gifts.

DOWS – Robin Meyer loves sourdough bread. It’s rich in both tastes and history, but it’s an ingredient for homemade bread that cannot be purchased at stores.

The an online encyclopedia entry on sourdough says it has been in use since 1500 B.C. by utilizing barm, the foam skimmed from the process of fermenting beer and wine, and probably originated in Egypt. Barm remained the leavening of choice until the Middle Ages when cultured yeast was developed and became part of breadmaking.

Sourdough derives its name from the sour, or tangy, flavor from the lactic acid prepared by the lactobacillus culture that lives in the dough, which is called the starter. The starter dough is refreshed with flour and water weekly. The starter dough can live for years and develop its own distinctive taste.

Sourdough was an important part of life for early miners and settlers when all they had to rely on for food was what they could provide. It remains popular in the western United States.

Robin Meyer’s mother, Bonnie Leist, of Rowan, is an experienced user of sourdough and her starter dough goes back at least 12 years. She enjoys sourdough for its texture and taste. She said it lasts longer and is less likely to spoil compared to conventional bread.

These loaves of sourdough bread were made by Bonnie Liestg of Dows.

The only disadvantage she said is that sourdough bread does not take rough treatment. When preparing sandwiches that are to be eaten in the field, the sourdough bread will fall apart.

Bonnie Leist uses her sourdough starter for communion bread at her church and anytime bread is served, whether for family gatherings, or giving away to neighbors. Bonnie Leist said that Rowan residents are happy seeing her walking to their door with a loaf of her sourdough bread.

Leist said she adds yeast to speed the baking and honey in place of sugar for a better crust. She holds back at least a cup of her starter dough after each baking session for the next batch. She feeds her starter dough three times every two weeks and will get about 10 loaves of bread.

Starter dough can be obtained from someone who already has their own sourdough. Robin Meyer has a recipe for anyone who wants to start their own sourdough.

Use a glass or plastic jar that will hold at least 3 cups.

Sourdough starter

Mix 1 cup warm water

3/4 cup white sugar

3 tablespoon potato flakes

1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast.

Mix well until dissolved and let set with plastic lid loose on top for 24 hours. Then tighten the lid and refrigerate for three days.

On the fourth day, feed with the following:

1 1/4 cup hot water

3 tablespoons potato flakes

Mix well and add to the first amount. Let set with plastic lid loose on top for 24 hours, then tighten lid and refrigerate 3 days.

At the end of that time, you can use it to make bread. Stir the contents of the jar each time before taking some out. Each time you get down to 1 cup in the jar,

feed it and start the waiting process again.

It can set longer than the three days after it is fed but it should not be used sooner.

Use only a plastic spoon and plastic or glass containers and lids.

Bonnie Leist’s sourdough bread

1/8 cup oil

1/8 cup honey

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon gluten

3/4 cup warm milk

1/3 cup sourdough liquid

3 cups flour (can be either white or mixture of white and wheat or rye)

Put in the bread machine in this order on the dough setting. After 24 minutes of mixing, add 3/4 cup of raisins. They will break if you put them in earlier. Take out and form into a loaf. This is a large loaf. Let raise about one hour or until double and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Bonnie Leist’s overnight cinnamon rolls

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water

1/2 cup honey or sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup oleo

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

Start at 5 p.m. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. When well mixed, place in greased bowl and let stand until 10 p.m.; at which time start rolling. Spread on some butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Raisins are optional.

Roll up and cut with string into 1 1/2-inch pinwheels. Place on greased baking sheet cut side down. Let stand until 6 a.m.. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Frost with powder sugar frosting while still warm. Recipe makes about 15 rolls.

Notes: When using a bread machine, put the liquids in first followed by dry ingredients. Use 1/3 cup sourdough mix in place of the water.

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at “mailto:crye@wctatel.net”>crye@wctatel.net

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