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This recipe is from Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery. Nancy is well known for her baking expertise and particularly for her sourdough. This is the best Sourdough Bread Starter that I have had the pleasure of making. It is easy, quick to prepare and gives your breads the best sourdough flavor around. I have also posted her famous Nancy Silverman's Rustic Sourdough Bread here. Please feel free to search the web for more of Nancy's bread recipes using this starter. I have found breads of all walks, pancakes, waffles, etc.
- Wrap the grapes in well washed cheesecloth, tying the corners to form a bag; lightly crush them with a rolling pin (to release the sugar to mix with the natural yeast on the skins; just like making wine!) and immerse them in the flour water mix. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap secured with a rubber band. Leave at room temperature for 6 days, stirring once or twice a day for six days.
- The bag of grapes will eventually appear inflated, and liquid will begin to separate from the flour base. The mixture will begin to taste and smell slightly fruity, and the color will be strange. That is as it should be. By the sixth day the bag of grapes will have deflated, the color will be yellow, and the taste pleasantly sour; the fermentation is complete. The starter is living but weak, and it needs to be fed.
- Remove the grapes and squeeze their juices back into the starter. Stir it up thoroughly and transfer it to a clean container. (Although you can use it after just one feeding, the starter will be stronger and healthier with the full treatment) You can refrigerate it until you're ready to proceed.
- Three days before you plan to use it, stir 1 cup flour and 1 cup water into the container, blending well. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until it bubbles up — 3 to 4 hours — then cover and refrigerate. Repeat this the second and third day.
- Store the starter tightly covered in the refrigerator where it will keep perfectly for 4 to 6 months, after which it’s a good idea to pour off all but 2 cups and give it another feeding. Before using the stored starter for bread, however, give it the full 3-day feeding schedule once again to restore it and to tone down excess sourness.