Sour Dough Mania !
Is it just me or has Sourdough recently taken on a life of its own... and what is Sourdough anyway?
Sourdough Bread starts with a sourdough "starter". This is a flour/water mixture that is simply a way to grow yeast – either store-bought yeast that you add to the starter mixture or the wild yeast that is found almost everywhere and is “captured” by the mixture from the air around us.
The starter is allowed to sit and “sour” or ferment for a time. This fermentation process produces a gas and an acid and this brew is the “starter” used to leaven other breads. The acid is what gives Sourdough bread its name & sour flavor. The gas produced by the fermentation gets trapped in the elastic gluten in your dough. That's what makes your dough rise.
History: (Wheat Foods Council www.wheatfoods.org) Thought to be the very first instance of leavened bread, sourdough dates back to 4,000 B.C., when ancient Egyptians are credited for discovering yeast’s leavening power. Since then, it has spread to many cultures and has a solid place in U.S. history and folklore.
In the Old West, sourdough was the only continuous supply of leavening in the wilderness areas, earning the mountain men, sheepherders, pioneers, prospectors and miners of the time the nickname “Sourdoughs.” To carry the starter from camp to camp, they would add enough flour to make a ball of dough that was then buried deep in the flour sack. Water and warmth at the next campsite started it growing again.
Tales tell of the cherished sourdough crock with starter given as a part of a bride’s dowry and of the starter going to bed with its owner to assure its survival through the long, cold winters.
Look here for an unusual and highly rated Eggless Sourdough Challah Recipe: