Today's recipe is for the starter. This means that this recipes is what you will start with, from scratch, and let ferment on your counter top for 12 days. If you keep this particular starter going, each cycle after this one will be 10 days because you already have fermentation going and you do not start from scratch. Tomorrow I will explain how to turn your starter into yummy bread and how you get ready for your next "cycle".
4 Cups flour, divided
2 cups warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you use the jarred yeast in bulk)
2 cups milk, divided
2 cups sugar, divided
Day 1: In glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl, mix 2 cups flour, warm water, and yeast. Leave uncovered on kitchen counter. Do not refrigerate.
Day 2, 3, 4: Stir well with wooden spoon (rumor is you have to use a wooden spoon. I'm not going to question. I think plastic would work just fine, but no metal). Still leave unrefrigerated. We cover it with a loose fitting lid.
Day 5: Stir and add 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar.
Day 6, 7, 8: Stir with wooden spoon.
Day 9: Stir and add 1 cup milk, I cup flour, and 1 cup sugar.
Day 10 and 11: Stir well with wooden spoon.
Day 12: Separate mixture into 4 containers, measuring 1 cup each. Use one cup to bake your bread (recipe tomorrow!), keep one for yourself as a "starter" for your next batch, and cover and refrigerate the other 2 and give them away (after all- it is called friendship bread!). If you don't have time to bake on day 12 (or day 10 after this starting cycle), you can refrigerate the batter until you are ready- my mom always says "It's so forgiving".
If you don't have any friends that want the starter, bake three of the one-cup containers, but always save one for your next round. Once you do this, repeat the cycle- but this time you can bake on Day 10. Also, don't be alarmed if you hear a "pop" in the middle of the night and find the lid popped off your container. This is completely normal and the yeast just doing its thang.
Like I said, I will give you the actual bread recipe next time! Go get a starter going!