Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sourdough Starter: Making Great Things Even Better

The thing about sourdough starter is that you need to keep feeding it in a regular basis--it must be doubled in size every few days with fresh water and flour to remain active. This sounds pretty daunting, and you've probably heard stories of the starter from hell that took over somebody's kitchen. I was also concerned about keeping things under control when I got my starter going a few weeks ago, and I envisioned throwing a lot of starter out as I kept refreshing. And, as much as I like sourdough, I really don't want to make and eat just sourdough bread.

Solution: add sourdough starter to other bread recipes. This way you can use up some of the starter whilst adding some great flavour to your other loaves. Here is the basic idea: the starter is a 50/50 mix of water and flour, so if you add 8 oz of starter to your dough, reduce the flour by 4 oz and the water by 4 oz. Proceed with your recipe as usual. I have used the starter in hot dog buns, whole wheat bread, and Italian bread so far (since I was using the starter I made this loaf in one day, rather than letting it sit for a day to develop flavour). I have yet to throw out any starter and all my bread tastes great.

Speaking of sourdough, my starter is developing in flavour and potency, and I am getting the hang of making and shaping the dough. Check out this beautiful loaf.

13 comments:

Susan said...

Oh, that bread is gorgeous!

Jess said...

Does the sourdough starter get tastier over time, then? I was using the recipe for whole wheat sourdough off the Canadian Living website, and I really found it lacking in flavour- I wasn't sure if I should scrap it and start again, or to keep trying and hope for the best. It took so long to get the starter going, it feels like a bit f a waste.

Lily Girl said...

That makes me want to lick my computer screen! (I'm a bit addicted to sourdough...)

Bianca said...

Good idea. I have a batch of sourdough starter that a friend gave me and I've made two loaves with it since, like, March. In fact, I haven't fed it in a few months, and I'm sure it's dead by now...just kinda of lurking like a zombie in my fridge. I should throw it out.

Anna said...

Mmmmm. Sourdough. I used to make bread on a regular basis but now dont need so much. (Getting older, the bread doesnt seem to come off as quickly!) Cant imagine keeping a starter going for occasional baking. I do miss it though. Incidently I learned how to make bread while cooking as a craft interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg! Nothing beats bread out of a dutch oven baked over hot coals!

Mary said...

That's really intimidating.

Brrrandi said...

That IS a beautiful loaf. I might have to try my hand at this!

Joelie said...

Ugh! Gorgeous!!! I'm SO JEALOUS!!! I'm in freakin' FRANCE and can't get my loaves to look that perty! Great big double thumbs up!

Noel said...

Great Scoring!
My starter is now about 3 months old, the best thing about getting rid of starter that it gets me to bake more often.. or make pancakes.

Carolyn said...

So it looks like you used your lame around the top perimeter of the bread, instead of doing slashes just across the top? I need to start actually reading my bread books again, I've don't think I've seen that before. It really is a beautiful effect.

Marko said...

That's so awesome! I'll have to look into this more and maybe start my own! Thanks!

Jelli Bean said...

I have the same problem with having to make sourdough so often. My solution this week was to make the dough sweeter and turn it into cinnamon rolls. It was perfect and the dough was super soft and tender. Try it!

JohnP said...

Leftover starter is good in muffins, too.