Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sourdough Resources

I love everything about sourdough. The way it leavens dough with a "wild" yeast that I caught myself, the way it makes the flour you mix with it more nutritious and digestible, they way it makes me get all excited about practicing science experiments in the kitchen, and the way it tastes.

My first experience with sourdough was in 2008, following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions for making your own sourdough starter and rye sourdough bread. Let's just say I needed more practice! I tried a couple times, but finally vowed to get a sourdough starter going beginning of 2010.

While I'm definitely not an expert at this, I am constantly learning and trying out new things with sourdough. I'm going to be making some sourdough bread to take to the next Weston A. Price meeting, and bringing some starter to share, so I wanted to do a post to help the novice sourdough user.

If you received a bit of sourdough starter from me, put it in a quart glass jar, and do a 1:1 ratio of flour to water, maybe start with 1/2 c. of each and let it set out overnight, or a few hours anyway. You should start to see bubbles form through the side of the jar. At this point, it's active, and you can start using it!

If you don't have any sourdough starter and want to try making your own, read-on!

Starting a sourdough starter. There are several methods, but I think simpler is better. Try and follow a method that uses just water and flour, like in Nourishing Traditions. Here are a some sites that do that.

Feeding a starter.
  • Here's what I do: add a little flour (rye or whole wheat) and a little water (filtered or well water from tap) and mix with whatever starter is left in the container. The consistency I go for is thicker rather than runny. It will last longer in the fridge if it's more "sponged". I rarely measure what I put in there, but try to shoot for a 1:1 ratio of water to flour. And I try to replace the amount that I used, at the very least.
  • The Naturally Knocked Up link above advocates changing jars. Here's what she says: "Upkeep on a starter is very simple. If you do not use your starter for one week, transfer to a new jar, feed it a 1:1 ratio of flour and water, and set it back in the fridge. OR After you use it for a recipe, feed it the same 1:1 ratio and let it sit out again for just a couple hours before storing in the fridge. (transfer to a clean jar about once a week) If your starter starts getting a bit too thin, go ahead and pour out the watery layer that settles at the top!"
So what do you think? It's really not too difficult. And it's fun! If you're interested in learning more about sourdough breads, I enjoyed the books below. Even if I don't follow everything an author says, there's always something to be learned!

Books I have read:

And here are some favorite recipes of mine, either that I have already tried, or plan to try in the future.

Recipes I use/have used:
  • My all-time favorite pancake recipe
  • My Fav Sourdough Bread Recipe
  • Everyday Sourdough Bread--A great step-by-step with pictures
  • Sourdough Blueberry Muffins--I modify this recipe a bit. To me, the whole point of using sourdough is to impart more digestibility and nutrition by soaking the flour, and this recipe doesn't incorporate that. So, I take the flour and sourdough amounts and add just enough water to make a medium thick paste. Instead of sugar I use honey. And I drop a few blueberries on top of the muffins. I find that if I mix them in, they all end up in the bottom of the muffin. And if I ferment the dough overnight, to be ready in the morning, this recipe makes about 10 muffins.
  • Sourdough Chocolate Cake--I used this in a bundt cake pan that I greased really well, turned out great!
  • Rustic Sourdough Noodles--Love these. Don't ever use regular noodles anymore. I just roll them out and cut with a pizza cutter. If you had a noodle press, that would work too.
  • Buckwheat Sourdoughnuts--I've only made these once so far, but I definitely want to make them again, maybe with all whole wheat. Also, I think I cooked them a little too long, so some of them got a little crunchy. But still, we were in love when we ate these hot out of the palm shortening, which, by the way, is a great use for palm shortening!
  • Staititai--an ancient kind of pizza that I found to be super easy and yummy!
  • Sourdough English Muffins--don't always have success but when they do work, they're awesome! It depends somewhat on the temperature in my kitchen.

Things I want to try:

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