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- Put 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water into a stone crock or earthenware bowl or glass jar and let stand at room temperature.
- Take a look at the mixture every day to check for the bubbling which means that fermentation has begun.
- This usually takes about ten days but could happen faster if your kitchen is very warm.
- When fermentation is well under way, take off a small amount of the clear liquid which has formed on top.
- Measure the quantity of liquid you have.
- Mix an equal quantity of half flour and half water.
- Combine with the starter liquid and return to the crock.
- Add the flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar to the starter in the crock and let stand for at least 12 hours, or until it begins to bubble again.
- Let stand, covered, for 18 hours more.
- There should be a faint sour odor from the crock.
- 10 hours before you want to have fresh loaves of bread on the table, take 2/3 of the dough from the crock and put into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the salt and soda to the starter right out of the crock.
- Add the eggs and beat very well.
- (Taste the dough now. You don't want it too sour. This is a hard term to define, but your own taste buds are probably your best guide. If it's unpleasantly sour, add a pinch more of soda and beat well.) Add enough flour to make a stiff dough.
- Fold over and over, kneading as it is turned and folded.
- If the dough gets too stiff, add a little syrup or a small amount of melted butter.
- The dough should be so stiff you can hardly stir it before you shape it.
- Mold into shapes and put in greased small bread pans.
- Cover and let rise.
- Turn loaves onto a floured board and knead well.
- Shape again into loaves and fill the same pans, no more than half full this time.
- Let rise again, until the pans are full.
- Bake in a preheated hot oven (400º) for about 1 hour.
- When loaves slip from the sides of the pan the bread is done.
- Remove from the oven and tip out on the board.
- Brush tops with melted butter.
- Slice very thin and try it with fresh sweet butter and homemade jam for a special treat.
- If you like sourdough bread and rolls (always best when they're very fresh), you'll find this superior to the finest commercial French and Italian sourdough bread available.
- Making the starter takes time and patience, but remember that you only have to do this once.
- Put aside one-third of your starter dough after avery baking.
- Start again with Step Three when you want to make bread again.
- If you bake every week, the starter dough can be kept at room temperature.
- Otherwise, store it in your refrigerator and remove it a day before you want to use it.