This is a long process from start to finish...mostly because you have to spend at least 4 days allowing the sourdough starter to ferment. You need to be sure to follow each step of these directions thoroughly (i.e. using a certain sized glass bowl, etc) to ensure the proper results. This recipe was taken from the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook.
1 tsp. regular active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. In 3 quart glass bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk. Gradually stir in flour; beat until smooth. Cover with towel or cheesecloth; let stand in warm, draft-free place about 24 hours or until starter begins to ferment (bubbles will appear on surface of starter). If starter has not begun fermentation after 24 hours, discard and begin again. If fermentation has begun, stir well; cover tightly with plastic wrap and return to warm, draft-free place. Let starter stand 2 to 3 days or until foamy.
2. When starter has become foamy, stir well; pour into 1-quart crock or glass jar with tight-fitting cover. Store in refrigerator. Starter is ready to use when a clear liquid has risen to top. Stir before using. Use 1 cup starter in recipe. Reserve remaining starter. To remaining starter, add 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup flour. Store covered at room temperature about 12 hours or until bubbles appear. Refrigerate.
3. Use starter regularly, every week or so. If the volume of the breads you bake begins to decrease, dissolve 1 tsp. active dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Stire in 1/2 cup milk, 3/4 cup flour and remaining starter.
This process takes approximately 10 hours so you'll want to start early in the day.
1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
2 cups warm water
3 3/4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1. In 3-quart glass bowl, mix Sourdough Starter, 2 1/2 cups flour and warm water with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover and let stand in warm, draft-free place 8 hours.
2. Add 3 3/4 cups flour, the sugar, salt and oil to the mixture in bowl. Stir with wodden spoon until dough is smooth and flour is completely absorbed. (Dough should be just firm enough to gather into ball. If necessary, add remaining 1/2 cup flour gradually, stirring until all flour is absorbed.)
3. On heavily floured surface, knead dough about t10 minutes or until smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
4. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening. Gently push fist into dough several times to remove air bubbles. Divide dough in half. (I divided into small sections to create bread-bowl sized rounds.) Shape each half into a round, slightly flat loaf. (Keep rounded if forming bread-bowls.) Do not tear dough by pulling. Place loaves on opposite corners on cookie sheet (may need 2 cookies sheets greased.) Make three 1/4 inch deep slashes in top of each loaf with sharp knife. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
5. Heat over to 375 degrees F. Brush loaves with cold water. Place in middle of oven. Bake 35-45 minutes, brushing occasionally with water, until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. To form bread bowl use a serated knife to cut out an opening for the soup. Be sure to leave enough crust to hold in liquid. Enjoy!