This weekend I started to get back to something I spent most of last year doing — making sourdough bread and keeping an ongoing live starter. It takes a couple of weeks for the full sourdough flavor to develop but initial results for this new batch were warmly received.
I got the starter going with some flour and a bottle of ordinary New Zealand lager I had lying around. Just mix the beer and flour together – use about a cup and a half of flour for a bottle of beer. You want it quite runny – nothing like bread dough really. But bottled beer doesn’t have very much live yeast, plus for authenticity you want some wild yeast, so I left the beer and flour mixture uncovered in the kitchen for 36 hours. Then as it started to ferment a little I fed it again (add warm water and flour) and stirred it up and let it work a second time. Now it was really starting to grow, so I divided it and made a batch of bread with one half and once again fed the other half and left it for twelve hours and put it in the fridge.
For the batch I made into bread, I simply added a little salt and enough flour to make it a proper bread dough with the right consistency and then kneaded it properly. I let it rise three times, since sourdough started bread is low on yeast to start with. Then I formed two french bread loaves and baked them. It all worked out great.
If you want more information about making bread, especially with bread machines (I didn’t use a machine in this case but I own one and DO use it pretty frequently) then I strongly recommend the best bread baking book in existence: