In the town where we live, it's impossible to find a good baguette from a bakery. The baker we did have (up until last summer) told me there wasn't a demand for baguettes here, so he wouldn't make them. I was ruined years ago working as a server at a French brassiere in Minneapolis where Turtle Bread Company delivered fresh baguettes and pastries daily. They were out-of-this-world.
I started researching sourdough starters after seeing a cinnamon roll recipe on the Food Network. The woman sharing her recipe used a starter for all her bread making and had kept her starter alive since her wedding. She had been given the starter as a gift. That means this mixture of live yeast, flour and water had been living in her kitchen for 30 years. It got me thinking.
Maybe that is the missing piece home cooks aren't aware of? Maybe we need this yeasty concoction that has been festering for years to make a decent loaf of bread.
Then I had twins. Who has time to mess around with baguette baking then? I didn't. I do have a sweet tooth and I love to bake and those cinnamon rolls that I saw Paula Deen and her friend make seemed too interesting to pass up.
This starter is made the day before you plan to make cinnamon rolls, or whatever your fancy. 8-12 hours before, to be precise. I have had success making a starter only 4-6 hours before baking too.
*you can dig into Paula's recipes, but you won't find the starter there. I happened to watch the episode and took notes while I watched. The notes are crucial for the rolls to turn out. But, this post is about starter....
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1 cup tepid water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 quart jar - no smaller (always glass, never metal)
heavy rubber band
piece of heavy paper towel
Mix as you would pancake batter, just enough to combine. The bubbling from the yeast will do the rest. (I mixed mine in the pyrex, then dumped into a large, recycled marshmallow fluff jar) NEVER ever EVER never NEVER seal the jar with a lid. It will literally explode. I'm serious. The very first time I made this, I tried to put the lid on loosely...I barely released the lid and it shot off. A thick paper towel secured with a heavy rubber band will allow the yeast to breath...gas to escape... and keep your starter free from fruit flies on a warm summer day with the windows open. Set starter in a warm spot. (I set the jar on the fridge where it won't be disturbed)