What does "punch" the bread mean?
-It's just full of air from rising, and you kind of smash it down.
Can you go over 6 or 8 hours each time?
-Yes. Yesterday I let some rise for 10 hours (the first AND second rise) and it was just fine.
How long will the starter keep?
-If you stop the process. Stick it in the refrigerator, and it will keep for a couple of weeks, according to my MIL. Just add some REALLY warm water when you start it all back up. I took a break over the weekend, and it worked fine.
Does it need to stay in a warm place? How warm are we talking?
-I keep our house on 68 and it's done ok :)
What does it mean when you say "add to/remake" the starter?
-I have wrestled with it myself. The recipe says to take out 1 1/2 cups with each batch, and then you're adding TWO cups of warm water each time (plus the other ingredients). It doesn't take a lot of math to see that's not going to go well after a batch or two. I personally poured some out of my jar for the first few rounds and re-added exactly what the recipe calls for again (to be sure that my starter was plenty active). After a while, these are the amounts that I started adding to keep from overflow (and to keep the bread from tasting TOO yeasty--lovely word :)): 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 1/2 Tbl potato flakes
You know it's frustrating when great cooks (like my MIL) give you instructions like, "ohh, you know sometimes I just don't add any yeast" or "sometimes I just do 1/2 a cup of sugar and water"....VAGUE...IMPOSSIBLE for the novice!! :) Dang people with skill! I need hard numbers!
So, those are the numbers I used, but I will say that after 4 rounds or so, I could see that my bread wasn't rising enough, and I needed to go back to the original recipe. My basic advice is to dump out a little starter each time (or get a bigger mason jar might be even better) and experiment. Isn't that annoying :)
This bread dough seems really sticky. Is that ok?
-First of all, and everybody who is going to make this should read this: DON'T DO LEVEL SCOOPS OF FLOUR AND SUGAR. THEY NEED TO BE SLIGHTLY ROUNDED. The Maddox family doesn't like exacts. They like to laugh at me and my need for them. So throw ingredients in there like it's no big deal, and it turns out better. Who knew?! :)
Mrs. Linda also said that you could flour the table and knead it out to a more "normal" bread consistency if you wanted to. I, however, like the slightly more dense and moist texture that results from not kneading.
Hope that helps! If it's still clear as mud to you, then post another question and I'll add to this list :)
**Giveaway: The first person to post a comment and reveal the literary pun in my title, will get something hand-stitched for either you or your wee-un :)