Sourdough 101: Part 7

I am very sad to tell you that I have had some issues with my phone today and wasn’t able to take any pictures of Beowulf for you.  But, not to worry, he’s still bubbling away and rising nicely.  Today were feeding numbers 12 and 13.  Your starter should be close to doubling after every feeding by now.  Keep in mind, too, that after rising it will start to deflate.  So in the morning when you get up, it might have already risen and deflated without you seeing how high it got.

Tomorrow morning will be feeding number 14.  After that, I will be able to use the starter to begin baking yummy things.  Before then, I would like to give you a few things to keep in mind when using your starter.

The longer you let it sit, the more tangy the end product will be.  For instance with waffles, I mix the batter right before I use it.  We like a mild sourdough taste.  If you want it tangy-er you can mix the starter, the flour, and the liquid the night before and let it sit all night.

You need to always keep 1/2 cup to 1 cup of starter.  If you are not going to be using your starter that often, you can keep it in the fridge.  About once a week you’ll need to take it out, let it come to room temperature, and feed it.  If you are going to put it right back in the fridge without using it, you’ll feed it in the same way we have been doing this week.  Remove half, add 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour.  If you are going to be using it, you’ll need to “build it up”.  Which brings me to the next thing to keep in mind.

You should never feed your starter more than 3 times the amount that you start with.  For instance, if you have 1 cup of starter, you should not add more than 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour to it.  If you have 2 cups of starter, no more than 6 cups of water and flour.  Let’s say that I know I want to bake some bread tomorrow.  My bread recipe calls for 3 cups of starter.  What I’ll do is take the starter out of the fridge in the evening and let it come to room temperature.  I will pour it in a stoneware mixing bowl.  I always keep a cup of starter, so I can go ahead and add 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour to the starter and mix it up.  I cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a bread cloth and let it sit on the counter over night.  In the morning, I measure out the amount I need for my bread into another bowl.  If at this point I am going to put the starter back in the fridge, I measure 1/2 cup into a jar and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour.  I let that sit out for a few hours until it starts to rise, then put the lid on and put it back in the fridge.

What has been happening lately at my house is that the starter doesn’t go in the fridge.  Ever.  I have been using it almost every day.  It sits in a stoneware bowl on my cabinet.  I feed it enough at night for what I’m going to do in the morning.  After that, I feed it again for the evening.  Say that tomorrow I am going to make waffles for breakfast, bake bread in the morning, and fix biscuits to go with supper.  Here is what I would do.  I know that my waffles recipe calls for 1 cup of starter and my bread recipe calls for 3 cups.  So in the morning I need 4 cups of starter to use and 1 cup to save.  Because I have only 1 cup of starter to begin with, I can only add 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour.  That wouldn’t give me enough to use and to save.  So today about noon I’m going to start building it up for tomorrow.  I will add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour, stir, and cover.  Now I have about 3 cups of starter.  Then tonight before I go to bed I will add another 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour, stir, and cover.  Now tomorrow morning when I get up, I have enough starter for the waffles and the bread and about a cup to save.   We eat the waffles, I clean up the kitchen and now it’s time to start the bread.   After I have measured out the starter for the bread, I’ll then build the starter up again so that I have enough for the biscuits for supper.  I know it sounds like a lot of maintenance, but it really only takes a few minutes to stir stuff together.  The biggest thing, really, is having to do a little planning.

I just re-read that and it sounds complicated.  But it really isn’t.  You just need to get the hang of it.  If it sounds a little intimidating to you (which it was to me the first few times I read instructions like that!), I would suggest starting out with only using it once a day.  I promise that once you get in the swing of things, it becomes second nature.

Tomorrow I will post my favorite sourdough bread recipe for you to start with.  I can’t wait!  Until then, I will leave you with a look at the pretzels I’ve been experimenting with.  I’m not completely happy with the recipe yet, but the kids said they “weren’t bad”.

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Sourdough 101: Part 6

Hello again all.  I’m so glad you’re still with me!  I was so pleased with Beowulf this morning that I almost forgot to have my caffine before I started playing with the starter!  After both feedings yesterday, I knew that there had been some expansion, but couldn’t really tell how much.  Add because I stopped taking pictures of what he looked like after the feedings, there was no way for you to see it.  I got really clever last night, though!  After I fed him last night I used a dry erase marker to mark the level of starter in the jar.  Just look at what greeted me this morning!

Before feeding number 10.

Ok, so maybe I get excited too easily.  But I think it’s pretty cool.  I marked the jar again after this feeding.  We’ll see what happens today.  Ideally, there should be more rising after each feeding.

Oh, and by the way, when we started this little adventure my part of the country was having blizzards and it was really, really, cold.  So my kitchen was really, really, cold.  This week we have been having record high temperatures.  Gotta love Oklahoma weather!  So I have been just using cold water out of the tap instead of warm.  Like I said when we started, I have used both warm and cold before, without seeing any difference.  Also, remember that I am using clean jars every other feeding so that I can get some semi-decent pictures for you.  I would normally not be doing that, so if your jar is looking kinda messy and you wonder why mine doesn’t look the same, that’s why.  Of course, you may not be a messy person and your jar my look much better than mine does!

Can’t wait to see what Beowulf looks like this evening!

Well, here he is.  Isn’t he great?

Before feeding number 11.

We are getting really close now.  Can you almost smell all the goodies you’re going to be making?  And just to whet your appitite, today I was experimenting with a sourdough soft pretzel recipe.  Unfortunately, it still needs some experimentation.  And I need some practice making pretzel shapes!  Maybe I’ll just make pretzel sticks next time.  Hopefully, I’ll have it fixed by next week and  I will share it with you then.

Beowulf and I will be back tomorrow.

Sourdough 101: Part 5

Are you ready for feeding number 8?  This morning I made sure that I had my cup of tea along with a left over biscuit from last night (reheated of course, with butter and blackberry jelly) before I started to play with the starter.  Things went much more smoothly.  Here is Beowulf before I fed him this morning.  Beowulf just makes me giggle!

Before feeding number 8.

Not only were there nice bubbles this morning, but there was a little bit of rising going on.  Not a lot, but enough to let me know that the yeast population is growing.  Remember, your starter may be ahead of mine, or even a little behind.  That’s ok.  As long as you’re seeing bubbles forming in the jar between feedings, that means the yeasts are feeding and multiplying and doing their thing.

And now, after a long day of making bubbles, feeding number 9.

Before feeding number 9.

As you can see, Beowulf has been busy today.  The yeasts are beginning to rise a little bit every time he’s fed now.   In a few more days, the jar will be about 2/3 full after feedings.  We’re almost there, stay with me now.

I was out most of the day today, so I didn’t have a chance to bake anything.  That always makes for a sad day at my house.  But tomorrow I’m home all day and I’ll be busy getting flour all over the floor and cabinet tops!  When I’m finished having all that fun, I hope to have something yummy to show you!