All photos/art by Hornick/Rivlin
If no-knead bread is the easiest and anadama bread is the most New Englandy, then sourdough is likely the oldest — probably the first leavened bread, created in ancient Egypt thousands of years ago.
Cultured yeast is a reliable leavening agent, but sourdough starters (a.k.a. “mothers”) offer a distinctive, tangy flavor, owing to the presence of lactic acid, here produced by the lactobacilli in buttermilk.
Many commercial flours contain enzyme-laden malt powder, which breaks starch down into sugar (making it more readily available to the yeast for fermentation), but this recipe uses ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as a boost.
Sourdough can be confusing stuff, so we turned to Food Network chef Alton Brown for a solid recipe we could be proud of. (By the way, I keep the “proto-dough” in the fridge for years, literally — it’s very difficult to kill.)