Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sourdoughing

Now that spring is in the air and the temperature of my house is a bit more stable.  (We heat our house with a pellet stove all winter, it has it ups and downs, as in temperature)  It is time for me to get the  Sourdough out and working.  I love baking with sourdough, one of the most pleasant aromas in the world is the smell of sourdough working in your kitchen.

Some people have a sour dough start that dates back a hundred years or more.   I had the pleasure of owning a sourdough start that originated in Alaska over 85 years ago.   Sadly, during our migration to Nebraska ten years ago my Alaskan sourdough was left uncared for and in the hustle and bustle of the move and it turned moldy and was ruined.   Since then I have started my own Sourdough.  There are numerous ways to make a sourdough stater,  this one below I have found works best.

Rinse a quart bowl (glass or plastic, not metal) with scalding hot water and dry.  Then mix the following ingredients together in the bowl:
Sourdough Starter
2 cups flour (you can use any flour for this, even gluten free)
1 package dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar

Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water-enough to make a thick batter-and stir just enough to break up the clumps.  Let this stand in a warm place for a couple of days till bubbly.  Keep an eye on it once it starts to bubble and grown it can climb up and over the edges of the bowl.  (this has happened to me several time)  I figure it is ready when it smell like a combination of beer and freshly baked bread and has a watery heady smelling layer on top.  You can either pour off this layer mix it in like I do, or drink it like the old timers used to.   
watery layer on sourdough

Sourdough Bread Recipe
2 cups of sponge (starter)
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp. of olive oil or softened butter
4 tsp. of  sugar
2 tsp. of salt

To the starter, add the sugar, salt, and oil (the oil is optional - you can use softened butter instead, or no oil at all). Mix well, then knead in the flour a half-cup at a time. Knead in enough flour to make a good, flexible bread dough. You can do this with an electric mixer, a bread machine on "dough cycle," or a food processor. You can also do it with a big bowl and your bare hands. Keep in mind that flour amounts are approximate;  and your sponge can vary in wetness. Use your judgment; treat it like ordinary white or french bread dough.

Let the dough rise in a warm place, in a bowl covered loosely with a towel (if you're using a bread machine's dough cycle, let it rise in the machine). Note that sourdough rises more slowly than yeast bread; my starter takes about an hour or so, but some starters take much longer. Let the dough double in bulk, just like yeast-bread dough. When a finger poked into the top of the dough creates a pit that doesn't "heal" (spring back), you've got a risen dough.

Punch the dough down and knead it a little more. Make a loaf and place it on a baking sheet (lightly greased or sprinkled with cornmeal). Slit the top if you like, and cover the loaf with a paper towel and place it in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in bulk.

Place the pan with the loaf in your oven, and then turn your oven to 350o Fahrenheit and bake the bread for 30-45 minutes. Do not preheat the oven. The loaf is done when the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack or a towel and let it cool for an hour before slicing.
Sourdough bread made in my bread machine
Once you remove some starter for a recipe you need to replenish the stater.  Replace the amount you took out with enough lukewarm water and flour to restore the batter to its original consistency. 

Ideally you should use some of the starter every week, but if you do not use it that often, store it in the refrigerator.  Just let it gradually come back to room temperature until it is bubbly and starts working.  Another trick a friend of mine shared  is to take a pastry brush and brush a layer of sourdough starter on some wax paper and allow to dry.  Once dry, flake the starter off and store in a air tight container.  To restart add the flakes to 2 cups flour and 2 cups water.   Allow to sit for a couple days until it has bubbled and gotten a watery head.  
My sourdough crock


I have found that in many recipes you can substitute sourdough in place of some of the buttermilk.  Here is a cookie recipe that is made with sourdough and buttermilk.

Sourdough Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 squares unsweetened chocolate melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour dough
1 tsp. vanilla  
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream together, butter and sugar.  Beat in egg until light and fluffy.  Then add vanilla and cooled chocolate.  Stir in buttermilk and sourdough,  then sift the flour, soda and salt, add to creamed mixture.  Chill dough for a couple hours, drop by tsp 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes.

Best Darn Sourdough Pancakes
Add to sourdough starter 2 1/2 cup flour and enough water to make a thick batter.  Let set over night.  Take back 1 cup of mixture to restart your sourdough.  To the remaining batter add: 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 room temperature egg, 1 tsp. oil,evaporated milk enough to produce the right consistency for pancake batter, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2-3 tsp. water, let stand 3-4 minutes to let baking soda work.     Cook as you would any other pancakes.  

I found that it is a challenge to see how long  you can keep a sourdough starter going.  Of course, in our busy lifestyles it is not always easy to have another thing that requires feeding and attention around:0)


Handmade sour dough bread

sliced for sandwiches

Sourdough Grilled Cheese

Happy Sour doughing!!!




2 comments:

  1. Awww, you are an angel to share this! Sounds like the perfect project for this dreary day. Thanks Laura!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so welcome I have a loaf baking in the oven as I type this.

    ReplyDelete