Recipes From rec.food.sourdough
I remember it like it was just 24 years ago, which is how long it's been.
What am I yammering about? 1999 was when I got a good Internet connection and discovered Usenet. About the same time I got into sourdough. Before then the Internet was largely a playground for academics and the military. Neither really wanted to see the commercialization of the Internet, but in the end, neither was able to prevent it for long.
Usenet was a messaging system that academics used to share information. Usenet was divided into news groups, one of which was rec.food.sourdough, which I'll call rfs from this point on.
Finding rfs was a life changing event for me. The group members were, like me, trying to figure out how sourdough worked. There were few books on sourdough, and fewer that were reliable. In the mid to late 1800's reliable commercial bakers yeast became available and bakers abandoned sourdough en masse. Bakers yeast was easier to use and, in the hands of the inexperienced, much more reliable than sourdough. In his famous cookbook "Beard on Bread' James Beard encouraged readers to not get involved with sourdough as it was finicky and unreliable. He suggested playing with salt rising bread would be a better use of ones times. (Salt rising is FAR more finicky than sourdough, and - unlike sourdough - salt rising bread is based on dangerous micro-organisms.)
If you are interested in Usenet, I wrote some notes about Usenet at the end of this post.
Rfs was a very supportive community with sourdough bakers ranging from beginners to world class bakers. If you were having sourdough problems, an answer was often posted within minutes! Aside from the community, the best feature of rfs are the FAQs, or frequently asked questions documents. They are most easily found on Darrell Greenwood's web page. A number of the documents, including the recipes, are on ftp sites. You'll need an ftp client to access those files. There are a number of good free ftp clients, Bluehost has a list of six they recommend.
They joy of the rfs faq is that it is exhaustive. It lists many ways to start, maintain, and use sourdough starters. Many of them are methods that purists no longer approve of, but including them is important from a historical perspective. The two recipe files are equally eclectic, and it is on those files this project focuses. With luck, I'll make, bake, refine and post about a recipe every week, until I run out of recipes or my long suffering wife suggests I do something useful for a change. I am normalizing the recipes to use sourdough the way it is used on sourdoughhome.com. Each recipe seems to have had its own starter management approach. I prefer to just keep a starter fresh, active and ready and use it. However you manage your starter, please prepare the amount of starter the recipe calls for. Unless otherwise stated, all starters are at 100% hydration and are very active.
So, here goes - an index to the recipes, which will be updated as I try the recipes. I'm using the same numbers the recipe files uses.
If you try these recipes, please let me know how they work for you. If you send me pictures, I'll add them to the recipe post.
101 - World Bread - this bread recipe came to the recipes file from Dr. Ed Wood's "World Sourdoughs From Antiquity" with his permission. It is a great bread for sourdough beginners. Further it toasts and keeps well. The recipe file changed the recipe, and I have changed it further. It is a good mild sourdough bread that toasts extremely well.
102 - Basic Bread - this recipe is a disaster and I am skipping it, at least for now. It's instructions are vague to the point of being maddening. "Add a bit of oil, and salt (if desired, I rarely do) " is a fairly clear instruction in the context of the recipe. There are no measurements. If you just HAVE to see the recipe, it is in its original form here.
103 - My Favorite White Bread by D. Jason Penney - this is a very pleasant white bread and easy for beginners to make. It uses a lot of sourdough starter, so it rises quickly and has a mild taste - great for converting that sourdough hater to the true religion of sourdough holeyness.
104 - "The Doctor Sourdough Bread" - this is baked, the recipe has been stabilized and the pictures are taken, all I need to do is write it up. Soon.
105 - David's Sourdough White bread - the recipe is a bit quirky, so I deferred this one. it is what I am working on this week.
106 - Sourdough Buttermilk Bread - this is baked, the recipe has been stabilized and the pictures are taken, all I need to do is write it up. Soon.
201 - David's Wheat and Rye Bread - this means we're out of the white breads! YAY!!! This will be done next week, or this.
When the Internet started, everyone on the Internet knew everyone else on a first name basis. The idea that it might be necessary to validate a user's ID was just not on the radar. Similarly, the notion that moderation would be needed was not in the founders mindset - after all, we all know each other, and no one on the Internet would do anything objectionable, would they? In these unimaginably innocent days Usenet was created as a way for friends to share information, computer code, and programs. Usenet was unmoderated and has remained essentially so until the present day. I don't need to know what your political, religious or sexual leanings are to know you can easily find something to offend you. Usenet has been described by its fans as a snake pit.
If you aren't dissuaded from going to Usenet, you will need a Usenet reader, and access to a Usenet host. At one time, many ISP's provided access to Usenet as part of their service offerings, however today that is becoming less and less common. Bestnet Review has a list of some Usenet providers they recommend. If all you really want to do is look at RFS to get a taste for its flavor, you can find rfs archived at Google. I just looked and most of the posts for this year were spam, which saddened me. However, there were a few good posts. If you dive into Usenet, please let me know what you find and how you like it.