Adventures in Sourdough

sourdough slice

In this quest for wellness through better food choices, I am easily intimidated by the idea of cooking foods with which I have no experience. So it was with sourdough. I put off the attempt at a sourdough starter for months. I researched sourdough starters that can be purchased online. I researched websites to learn how to do it from scratch. I finally decided to take the plunge. I settled on a recipe that specifically used spelt, my flour of choice, and started. The fact that the measurements were metric didn’t make things any easier. However, I was looking for a recipe that didn’t call for the addition of fruit or fruit juice to give the starter a “jump start” and those seemed to be hard to find. I carefully fed my starter once a day, as required by my recipe. Another thing I liked about this recipe, it didn’t require throwing out half the starter once or twice a day. For a frugal zealot, that just goes against the grain (pun intended)! I slowly built it up until I had the desired results. This was a 7-day starter recipe and this is what I had in 7 days. (Recipe found here)

sourdough starter

On day 8, I made my first loaf of sourdough bread. I used a very simple recipe; starter, spelt flour, salt, water. That’s it! I’ll have to admit, my first loaf didn’t turn out so great. The bread itself was good (pic at top of post), but the loaf wasn’t pretty at all. I failed to score the bread through on top and it caused a weird-looking eruption. I tried again a few days later and did better that time.

sourdough loaf

The sourdough starter became the source of many great meals. I used it to make things like french toast…

french toast

and pizza crust…

pizza crust

and even cinnamon rolls.

cinnamon rolls

The single greatest thing I have found about sourdough starter though, is how to easily store it or store a backup, in case of sudden (or even slow) starter death. Most people keep it in their fridge, where it goes dormant and requires about a once-weekly feeding. But what if you (like me) go for some length of time without using your starter? Do you really want the hassle of having to remember to feed a dormant starter? I didn’t. So I was happy to discover that starter can be dried and kept indefinitely! It’s a very simple process. Just spread a thin layer of starter on a piece of parchment paper and leave it till dry. I put mine in the oven overnight. (My oven is electric, not gas; It was just a place to store it out of the way) Once dry, simply peel it from the paper, put in a plastic bag and break up into pieces. To revive, soak 1/2 tsp starter in 1 Tbs filtered water a few minutes to soften. Stir in 1 Tbs of flour of choice. Let sit 24 hours, then proceed with regular feedings. (Feedings can be done once or more per day) Another great thing about this method is, the dried starter can easily be mailed to others if you want to share yours and save them the trouble of starting from scratch! I found all this great info at breadtopia, where you can view videos for this process. This is what the finished product looks like.

dried sourdough starter

The upper left hand side is a gluten-free starter I made from rice flour and the lower right hand side is my spelt starter. I’ve revived it to verify it works and didn’t have any problem. I plan to post my starter instructions, followed by my bread making instructions, in the next few days. Hope you’ll stay tuned!

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays on Food Renegade.

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