Sour Dough Bread

1 cup Sourdough Starter (see recipe below)
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon salt

Bring Sourdough Starter to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour and yeast; set aside. In a saucepan, heat and stir water, sugar, margarine or butter, and salt just till warm (120 to 130 degrees) and margarine almost melts. Add to flour mixture. Add Sourdough Starter. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (45 to 60 minutes).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Shape each half of dough into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly to 6 inches in diameter. With a sharp knife, make crisscross slashes about 1/4 inch deep across the tops of the loaves. Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or till bread tests done (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning). Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Sour Dough Starter
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar or honey

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Stir in the remaining water, flour, and sugar or honey. Stir till smooth. Cover the bowl with 100% cotton cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature (75 to 85 degrees) for 5-10 days or till the mixture has a sour fermented aroma, stirring 2 or 3 time each day. (Fermentation time depends upon the room temperature: a warmer room hastens fermentation.)

When fermented, transfer Sourdough Starter to a 1-quart jar. Cover with the cheesecloth and refrigerate. Do not cover jar with a tight-fitting lid. If starter isn’t used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Repeat every 10 days till used.

To use starter, bring desired amount to room temperature. For every 1 cup used, stir 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey into the remaining amount. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 1 day or till bubbly. Then refrigerate for later use. Makes about 2 cups.

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