We used to say this to our dd when she was a baby and was being a sour dough. Maybe that’s why she loves sour dough bread. 🙂 It’s been a while since I’ve made anything with my sourdough starter as you can see from the “hooch” which is the brown liquid floating on top.
I read a great book several years ago, World Sourdoughs From Antiquity by Ed Wood and had wanted to make my own sourdough starter. He explained the regional nature of individual sourdough starters, being made from yeasts native to a certain local, and I wanted my own Powderhorn strain. I found the book and here are my notes written in the inside cover of how I made the starter.
June 26, 2009
Two cups organic Rye flour and 2 cups filtered water placed in a bowl with a flour sack towel covering it. Placed outside on the fence in Powderhorn during the day. Cover put on the bowl at night and brought inside and placed in a warm spot.
June 27, 2009
Added 1/2 cup live kefir whey, added 1 cup water and one cup rye flour, stirred well, placed towel on bowl and left outside for the day. Brought inside for warmth at night. Transferred to two 1/2 gallon mason jars because it is easier to put the lids on at night, and during the day to put a cloth over the jar opening and screw just the lid band over the towel, keeping it well covered and safe from anything besides the yeasts from getting in.
June 28, 2009
Added one cup flour and one cup water. The starter was beginning to show signs of fermentation bubbles. (outside in day with cloth covering, inside at night with solid lids on.)
June 29, 2009
Added one cup organic whole wheat flour. (Ed Wood stated in his book that a sourdough starter works best in the beginning stages using rye flour and then you can change to your preferred flour after fermentation begins, and from then on.) Showed more signs of being bubbly.
June 30, 2009
More bubbly, added some whole wheat flour.
July 1, 2009
Added more whole wheat and was very bubbly. Sourdough started complete.
I have had my original starter ever since and have shared it with many friends.
This is how I take care of the starter and how I make bread.
1. Always keep your sourdough starter in the refrigerator. As I said before, it had been a while since I had used the starter and there was a lot of hooch on the top. Many sources tell you to pour off the hooch, but Ed Wood says in his book that traditionally this was not done, nor does he recommend it, so I just stir it in well. Pour everything into a clean 1/2 gallon mason jar and shake very well. Now you will divide your starter in half, one half being what you will use in your recipe, and the other half you will feed and put back into the refrigerator as your continued starter.
2. Never put anything into your starter except flour and filtered water. Add as much flour as you want to increase the volume of the starter to at least half.
3. Add enough filtered water to make a soupy consistency, stir or shake well, put the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator. It is best if you can use your starter, replenishing the flour and water, at least once a month if possible, and if not just add some flour and water to feed it until you can properly divide, put in clean jar and feed it.
4. Now to use your other half of starter for a recipe. Pancakes, bread, crackers, pizza…
For pancakes I add the starter, about a quart or more of kefir, 2 eggs, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and stir in enough flour for the right consistency. You can add flax seed, chia seed or anything else you want to. Buckwheat flour is great for pancakes. When the griddle is ready, hot with coconut oil, then I stir into the batter about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, which will make nice airy bubbles in the batter.
For bread I add the starter, kefir, salt, honey and then knead in enough flour until the dough soft and pliable, sticky but not too sticky to handle. Add herbs, cheese, nuts, seeds like millet, chia, flax, or anything your heart fancies. Of course you can use the dough attachment on your mixer, but kneading it by hand is much more fun. I always knead in a large bowl, kneading with my right hand and turning the bowl with my left hand. This way the dough stays clean.
Sourdough dough does not take any longer to make than regular yeast bread dough, but the time for proper rising is much longer. Just do it in the evening and let it rise all night. Place dough in a bowl, pour on some olive oil and make sure all sides of the dough get oiled. Cover bowl with a wet dishtowel, or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot, such as the oven on bread warm, or pilot light. It can take up to 12 hours for the dough to double. The longer the rise, and even having the bread rise for 24 hours with three punch downs will greatly reduce or eliminate the gluten in the dough and many gluten intolerant people can eat traditional sourdough. Commercial sourdough is flavored with “sour” and not allowed this long fermentation process. Gently punch dough down. At this point I usually divide the dough and put half in an oiled loaf pan, set to rise in a warm spot for another hour or two, and the other half I put in a ziplock bag with air removed and put in the refrigerator. It will keep at least a week in the fridge and when I am ready to make another loaf I take it out and put in an oiled loaf pan in a warm place to rise for a few hours, then bake. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.
I usually use this refrigerated dough for pizza crust, which is fast and wonderful. My favorite cookbook, Stillroom Cookery by Grace Firth, has a funny quote about pizza dough. She says, “Light bread dough that has been refrigerated for one day to two weeks makes an excellent pizza base. In fact I have found that older dough rolls out more easily than freshly made dough. It does not spring back as if frightened, nor does a wad pout in the corner of a tray. As a tipsy cook once told me, “Good pizza dough’s like them women that got a little age on them, they stays put.” ”
Sometimes, I’m not so sure about the stays put part, but I digress.
This batch of dough I made into flatbreads. I oiled a cast iron griddle with coconut oil, flattened small circles and cooked them on both sides. Leftovers were cut in half, spread with kefir cheese and warmed in the oven to go with our salad.