Rather than further hijack the Fry Bread thread, I figured I'd start a new one.
First up there are a couple of books I really like:
The Bread Bakers Apprentice: http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-A.../dp/1580082688
This book has a great detail on different bread types and how they should look and feel and how to properly cook them for best results. I don't however use the sourdough starter from it - there are better ways.
I also found Rienharts other book:
Whole Grain Breads: http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Reinhart.../dp/1580087590
to be really useful. In this one he really expounds on the details of delayed fermentation and uses it to make some really fantastic whole grain breads.
Not quite as in depth but still a great book is
Bread Alone: http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Alone-Fr.../dp/0688092616
Personally I prefer the Rienhart books (in the order listed mostly) but this is still a really good book.
Now on to the starter. You can buy a starter and the couple of those I've tried seem to work pretty well so that's definitely the easy option (or get a starter from someone who has one). Making your own from scratch isn't all that hard, you are basically breeding the natural yeast and bugs (lactobacillus primarily - at least ideally..) on the grain up into a culture.
There are many basic starters and I've only tried making a handful but have settled on a couple I like best. We tried the "dry starter from rye flour" from The Bread Bakers Apprentice and it does work but it goes through a smelly stage, takes a long time and doesn't imho have the "best" flavor (a few years back I did several starters at once and we had a bakeoff / taste comparison over a few weeks to see how/if the flavors changed.. LOTS of bread!). There are two types of "wet" starters I've settled on; the best is a "mash" based starter and a close second is an "acid" based starter. Both last indefinitely if you keep them fed, at least every other week is best more often is better. Interestingly based on my experiments the initial flavors tend to "hold" even after a whole lot of feeding and weeks/months of use (I reckon the initial bugs setup a stable colony and that defines the flavor largely).
For all of the starters I would strongly recommend the freshest ground whole grain flour you can get - the best is obviously that which you grind yourself; for that I use a "Nutrimill" brand impact mill - reportedly the "whispermill" (maybe sold as "wondermill" now - not sure) is as good - both are noisy but a heck of a lot easier/faster to use than a burr/stone mill and produces fantastically fine flour (grinding bread ready flour on a burr mill in my experience requires multiple passes and you'll definitely be ready for bread afterwards!!). If you can't grind your own grain get some localish whole grain flour (again you are breading bugs so you need to get grain that has bugs on it and fresher grain will have more naturally occurring bugs and produce a healthy culture faster/more reliably).
This is my favorite, it makes a "smooth" sourdough that has a deliciously rich and not to sharp of a flavor. I got this out of one of our breadmaking books might have been the one above but I can't find it now so doing this from memory (which is I'm sure infallible although I've made this enough times its pretty reliable)..
1 tsp ground barley malt
1 C fresh flour
1 1/2C water
Mix and hold in the oven at 150F for ~2 hours (you are essentially doing a mini mash here)
Take 3 tbsp of the mash and 3 tbsp of fresh flour and enough water to make a thin paste mix and let set covered on the counter for 12 hours. Store the rest of the mash in the fridge.
Add 1 tbsp of the mash and 6 tbsp of flour and enough more water to make a thin slurry (still on the counter)
add 1 tbsp of the mash and 12 tbsp of flour and enough more water to make a thin slurry ..
Double with flour and water every 12-24 hours until its nice a bubbly and you have "enough". Usually I double it until I have 4-6 cups worth. It should be really bubbly by the 2nd or third day after which you can feed it a bit more often.
This recipe uses pineapple juice, I suspect that almost any acid (white vinegar, citric) would do the trick but haven't actually tried others. I believe that this works mostly because the lower PH sets the environment properly for a good culture to get started (most bad bugs can't live very well in a low ph environment). I would avoid apple cider vinegar or other "live culture" vinegars for this at least because they would be mostly acetobacter which you don't want. This makes a slightly sharper starter than the mash starter so if you like a sourer bread this may be one you like better.
1 Tbsp pineapple juice (less of something more acidic like vinegar)
3 tbsp fresh flour
enough water (maybe a tbsp or so) to make a thin slurry
Double as above using fresh flour.
Store starter in the fridge when not feeding between uses. I usually try to use enough so I can double it when I feed it and leave it out for ~4-12 hours until its nice and bubbly again. If it gets to sour you need to feed it more and should take a smaller amount and feed it back up through a few doublings.
Now you have a starter.. More to follow.