Nine tries. It has taken me nine tries at making sourdough bread, and finally... FINALLY... not only have I dominated sourdough bread, but I have kicked its tail and told it who was boss: ME.
So, please, let me share how to make a starter ... and then... how to make sourdough, all without yeast.
Take equal parts of water and flour and mix together to make a gooey mess. Add equal parts of flour and water to this original mixture everyday until you have about 2 cups for about three days. Next, toss out half of the mixture and add back equal parts of flour and water for another 4-5 days. It should start to have oodles of bubbles and smell yummy... like beer and bread.
To make oh-so-good sourdough bread: Pull out about a cup of the starter and sprinkle with both sugar and flour. Let it sit for several hours until bubbles are throughout all of the goo. (a clear glass pyrex bowl is ideal) Once the bubbles are there, in a separate bowl, whisk together about 1 tbsp. of olive oil, 2 tsp. of sugar, and about 1 tsp. of salt. To this, add the "proofed" starter and about 2 cups of flour and less than 2 cups of water, interchanging adding water and then flour. I use the vague terms as the flour and water amounts will vary depending on the weather. You want a dough.
Pull it out and knead it into a ball and coat with oil. Let it sit in a well-oiled bowl until it doubles in size. Punch it down and place on a cookie sheet. NOW preheat your oven to 425 for about 30-45 minutes. Cook for 35 minutes or until it looks too good to resist.
Please let me know how it turns out!