During the California goldrush, pospectors would carry a mixture of flour and water in a packet strapped to their waists. The heat of their bodies fermented the mixture, creating a natural leaven, and giving them the nickname “sour bellies.”
To follow up from the simple sourdough starter recipe I gave you last time, let me show you how to make an "old dough" starter. I learned to use it with certain sourdough bread recipes, like San Francisco sourdough bread, along with the simple starter.
2 large glass mixing bowls
wooden spoon (plastic is fine)
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
4 tablespoons room temperature water
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
Add the water the large glass bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and leave for 5 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve. Add the flour and mix to from a soft, sticky, dough.
Flour a cutting board or area of the counter top. Turn out the dough on the floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Oil a clean bowl. Put the dough into the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with with a dish towel and let rise for about 3 hours. Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Tear one piece of dough into small pieces, and mix into the dough of your next loaf of sourdough bread, when you add the rest of the simple starter required by the recipe. Wrap the remaining piece loosely in plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil, allowing room for expansion, and set aside for future use.
“Old dough” can be prepared in advance and frozen or refrigerated. To use frozen dough, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then rest at room temperature for at least two hours before using.
To replenish “old dough,” pinch off a racket-ball sized piece of dough from the sourdough bread you're making before shaping and proofing the loaf. Wrap and refrigerate as above.