2 cups lukewarm water (100° F)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup to feed starter
1/4 cup dry milk powder
Whisk together the water and yogurt, then add the 2 cups flour and the dry milk powder, blending until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart glass jar, ceramic crock or plastic container. Cover with a double thickness of cheesecloth and let stand in a draft-free spot indoors for 48 hours. When it bubbles and a gray or yellow liquid forms on the top, stir it back in. (If the liquid is red or green, throw the starter away and start over.)
After stirring back the liquid for 2 days, add 1 cup flour to feed the starter.
Sourdough Starter No. 2 “Cheater”
If you are impatient, or you have no fermentation after 2 days, be a “Cheater” and add a pinch of active dry yeast on the second day.
Sourdough is notoriously stubborn when it comes to rising. Every cook-off contestant we’ve met adds yeast or baking powder or both to speed things up. If you want to be a purist and see what it’s like to use nothing but sourdough for leavening, you will need to allow as much as an entire day of rising time. If the temperature outside is higher than 70° F, put the sourdough outside to rise with a clean kitchen towel over the top of the bowl or loaf pan to keep the flies away.