Monday, January 12, 2009
Experiments with sourdough starter
I've been wanting to bake with sourdough starter for a long time. About twenty years ago - when I was 5 - (ha!), someone gifted me with an Amish friendship bread starter and recipe, but, while it was very good, I didn't experiment beyond that one recipe.
Over the last few years, my husband has expressed a desire for sourdough pancakes. He had them once, oh, maybe ten years ago, in a restaurant and has never forgotten how good they tasted. Well, fine, this was just additional incentive for me to get some starter. I like surprising Jim with special things to eat. You know, the way to a man's heart....
Anyway, when Angie of Children in the Corn told me she was working with sourdough starter, I playfully suggested she send me some. Guess what? She totally did! All the way from Michigan! Did you know you can dry sourdough starter and reactivate it later? You can read Angie's side of the sourdough story: here.
Of course, right about the time Angie's envelope of white powder arrived, we had a huge snowstorm raging and then the holidays hit, so my experimentation with reconstituting dried sourdough starter didn't begin until the new year. But then I was ready!
According to an online sourdough reactivation site, all I had to do was add a couple teaspoons of starter, some water and some flour and the process would begin:
2 teaspoons starter:
1/3 cup water:
1/4 cup flour:
Stir well to incorporate air, cover (with a paper towel to allow continued air flow), and let sit for 12 hours:
At the 12 hour mark, though, very little had changed. The instructions said I should see some bubbling and the mix should smell "sour", but neither of these things were evident in my jar:
Maybe it wasn't going to work after all. Did I do something wrong? I decided to give it another day:
24 hours later...Bingo! Bubbles and the sour smell of success!:
Now, every day since, I have to feed my new baby by adding more flour, more water, and stirring:
...Every 24 hours....flour, water, stir:
Now I'm ready to cook! This last weekend I decided my husband would finally get his sourdough pancakes (it *was* his birthday, after all) and I had also been dying to make CaliforniaGrammy's (from her blog: Life is Good!) sourdough cinnamon rolls!
The thing I've learned about sourdough recipes, though, is that you can't just make them in one shot. Once you have an active starter, it takes time to build it up to the quantity called for in a specific recipe. Sourdough pancakes, for example, call for an entire cup of starter. Sourdough cinnamon rolls, call for 1/2 cup. So, one needs to plan their time accordingly. Both recipes, then, also require "prep work" the night before you're going to make them.
Here's the "night before" sourdough pancake batter (a combination of starter, flour and water). It needed to "set" overnight:
The next morning, I added some milk, eggs, brown sugar, oil, salt and baking soda and - voila! Sourdough pancakes hot on the griddle:
Don't they look wonderful?:
I'm pretty certain that Jim loves me just a little bit more now:
Here is what the sourdough cinnamon roll batter looked like the night before I made them - this, too, needed to "set" until the next morning:
In the morning, I added the remaining ingredients, rolled out the dough, brushed with butter:
...Sprinkled on some brown sugar, rolled up the dough, sliced it up, dipped the pieces in butter and put into a baking dish to rise for an hour:
Here they are baking in the oven:
A powdered sugar glaze makes these rolls complete:
Yummy sourdough cinnamon rolls - a definite success!:
This week I think I'll try baking some sourdough bread and rolls. If anyone out there has any sourdough recipes you think I just HAVE to try, please, by all means, send them my way! After that, I may put my baby (starter) into the fridge, so it slows down a bit and I don't have to keep feeding it quite so frequently!
Thank you, Angie, for sharing your starter - this has been an incredible amount of fun and a very interesting process, too.
And thank you, California Grammy, for sending me your yummy sourdough cinnamon roll recipe!!