Tag Archives: Sourdough

Return to Sourdough

Two weeks back I wrote about the complicated sourdough starter methods that are out there in print and cyberspace. When I decided to learn to make my own sourdough bread that was the path that I traveled down. I took out my kitchen scale and weighed my flour. I tested and measured my water so that it was not too hot and not too cold. I wasted so much flour by throwing out half of my starter each day. YES HALF! Sometimes instructions are overrated.

This is what I learned to do.

1. Measure out 1/4 cup of unbleached white all-purpose flour into a clean container. I have used a mason jar and I have used a medium glass bowl to start. I found the bowl easier to work with when the starter is just beginning.

2. Measure out 1/4 cup lukewarm non chlorinated water and add to your container. Mix until all the dry flour is incorporated.

3. Cover the container with a damp cloth to keep the baby starter from drying out. I learned this trick from Carolyn at Homesteading Family,

4. Repeat twice a day. If you get busy and forget, don’t panic. Feed the starter by following the above steps once you remember.

Once you have done this for a few days the amount in your bowl or jar will have increased enough to remove some, especially if you are using a mason jar. Instead of dumping half of that valuable flour gold into the trash, pour it into a separate jar. Cover the jar of discard and store in the refrigerator.

Take the remaining starter and give it a clean new home. Feed it with 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of warm non chlorinated water as usual. As the starter gets more mature and stronger you can cover the container with a dry breathable cover like a coffee filter or a piece of clean muslin.

Once this jar of discard starts adding up in volume in the refrigerator, you will need to figure out something to do with it. I tried to make bread. Even after adding yeast, it only rose to about four inches and after baking, resembled a brick. I made a lot of flat breads. I topped them with garlic, onion, butter, cinnamon and sugar. They were ok, but honestly not like the flatbread I was craving.

Then it happened. The waffles.

Wait until you have the needed amount for the recipe, 2 cups of starter or discard, then make up a batch of the best waffles ever. If it makes more than your family can eat at one sitting, flash freeze and save for later. There is only two of us so one batch makes one fresh made breakfast and one breakfast ready in the freezer.

Here is a pdf directly from Melissa K Norris. I will never go back to store bought frozen waffles or that store bought premade mix. These are just as easy and one hundred times better tasting. Top them with local maple syrup, local honey, or for a surprisingly great dessert, ice cream or fresh fruit and cream.

Now you wonder what to do with that sourdough starter that is living on your counter? That takes some time to become fully active and strong enough to make bread. At least one without additional yeast.

Differing factors contribute to the time. The temperature in your kitchen, the regularity of your feeding schedule, the kind of flour, and I personally think the age of your flour. Continue feeding twice daily and watch those bubbles appear. The key is to not give up.

There are many resources for sourdough recipes on the internet. I am still a fledgling bread baker myself, so I have stuck to a few basic ones. Sandwich bread, sandwich buns, and english muffins for now.

*Important note – If you have forgotten about your starter for a few feedings, you may notice a brownish layer of liquid on the top. That is hooch.

It is fine. It just means that your sourdough is hungry. You can pour it off and feed your starter or you can mix it in and feed your starter. The choice is yours. However, if you notice any kind of fuzzy growth on the starter or the sides of the jar, toss it and start over in a clean container. Fuzzy means mold. Not something that you want to feed your family.

I hope this has taken some of the scariness out of sourdough. I am no expert but believe that you can do this. It is much smarter to make the mistakes now while you still have an opportunity to grab for the yeast and fall back on your tried-and-true recipes. As the last three years have shown us, take nothing for granted and expect the unexpected.


Flour and Water Pride

Is it weird to be proud of flour and water? It isn’t when that flour and water makes an active sourdough starter.

Recently I read a post in a Facebook group from someone who was having a hard time getting her sourdough starter to become active. She said it was not doubling like it should when it was at its peak. She explained her steps, when she had started the process, and her disappointment. She was ready to throw in the towel and abandon this healthier way of bread making.

The responses from other members of the group were well meaning but very technical. For anyone who is new to working with sourdough and floundering this is not what they want or need. Simplicity is the key. I know this because.

I was in her shoes a few years ago. Yes, I jumped on the sourdough bandwagon during c*vid. After all there was no place to go, the store shelves were bare, and I was going a bit stir crazy. I realized I needed another skill in my new “independence from the norm” treasure chest. I took out every sourdough book in the CW Mars library, both print and digital. I read, I studied, I watched professional bread makers create artisan loaves so beautiful they were like works of edible art. Then I broke out the flour and filtered water and began.

I weighed everything out precisely, mixed it in a mason jar and watched all day. Patience is not one of my strong character traits. I fed it again in the evening and hoped it would be bubbly in the morning. It was not.

My tastebuds were waiting for sourdough bread like I had tasted on a high school class trip to Spain, but instead I was staring at a jar of the clay mixture that I used to make with the kids. I hit the books and You Tube once again.

Every set of directions was complicated and said to discard half of what was in the jar. I didn’t know any better, so I took out half and threw it away. This went on for days or maybe weeks before I started questioning why I was wasting so much of this precious substance that was now very hard to come by. My starter had also not gotten all big and alive. I was getting discouraged. Then it happened. I found a recipe for waffles using the discard.

No more storebought frozen waffles for this house. No more prepackaged mix that contained a bunch of who knows what. I could whip up a bunch all at once and freeze them for later. It was the accomplishment that I needed to stick with it.

Eventually I was able to move on to English Muffins. Not the prettiest to look at but they were homemade, and they tasted just like the famous brand.

As the starter got stronger, I finally was able to make the most delicious dessert chocolate bread, rolls, and sandwich bread.

Then summer happened.

I put my first starter in the refrigerator and forgot about it. I tried to revive it in the fall but, Yeah, I killed it good. I started all over, but since I was back to work the constant feeding, discarding, and baking when it was at its peak was too much. My poor starter never stood a chance. I killed another one.

When Homesteading Family held a sourdough challenge, I had to participate. I was still craving the taste of real sourdough. Carolyn teaches using a bowl instead of a jar and there is no science degree needed. Simple measurements and simple directions.

I did it! I had accomplished a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread.

There was no turning back. I have returned to using a quart mason jar with a coffee filter on top because the bowl was taking up valuable countertop space. It is the easiest and perhaps the laziest method I can think of. A heaping 1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup filtered water. Mix it well with a wooden spoon, cover with the coffee filter, and throw it back in the corner.

When the jar gets too full, I pour half into another clean mason jar which lives in the fridge until I can make something that does not need fully active starter. When I pour out half, I transfer the countertop starter into a clean jar and work the feedings and baking around my schedule. Easy peasy.

So, if you think that you cannot balance sourdough and real life stay tuned. I will write a separate post giving you tips to get you on your way. If I can do it with my crazy schedule, so can you. Soon you will have Flour and Water Pride too.

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