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.