It’s A-l-i-v-e

Our spate of warm days has given me the incentive to experiment more with Fungi, more specifically, the sourdough starter mix Lisa sent to me from Carl Griffith’s friends.

The idea is wonderful: you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with a request for the starter and, if you’re feeling generous, an optional donation. You’ll get a small plastic bag with about a tablespoon of powdery stuff. So, it’s best that you label your envelope “just sourdough starter/not anthrax spores” in case it starts to leak or something.

I tried reactivating the on a Thursday. After not seeing bubbles on Friday morning, I got a little bit impatient. I stirred in a tablespoon of potato starge and let the starter set in a warm (90°F) oven for a few hours. It had awakened very noticably.

The first recipe I tried was the sourdough pancakes:

Sourdough Hotcakes recipe from Carl’s Friends

1/2 C starter
1 1/4C water
1 C flour
2 eggs
1 T sugar
1/4 t salt
2 T oil
1 t baking soda

  1. Mix water, flour and starter and let sit out on the counter overnight.
  2. The next morning, add the eggs, sugar, salt, flour, and oil.
  3. Since the mixture is slightly acidic, you’ll stir in the baking soda last.
  4. Cook until brown on each side

The pancakes are light and airy. They don’t have the sourdough “kick” that I expected, but there is a slight, pleasantly fermented taste. The recipe’s rapidly become a household favorite, and I’ve made four batches in a week and a half.

The bread recipe (below) was well-received, though it had a very uniform texture. I want to work on my technique so I can get the randomly-sized bubbles similar to the ones in artisan breads. (I think it may have to do with not kneading it a second time.) Suggestions are welcomed.

Alaskan Sourdough bread – adapted from Carl’s Friends

(Makes two loaves.)
1 C Sourdough starter
4 T olive oil
1 t Baking soda
7 1/2 C Bread flour
2 1/2 C Warm Water
1/2 C Sugar
1 T Salt
2 T kosher salt for topping (optional)

  1. Combine starter, all the water, and 3 c flour the night before and place in warm, draft free place.
  2. The next morning add other ingredients and knead till smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl in warm place and let rise to double.
  3. Knead down again, shape into loaves and place into greased pans. Optionally top with kosher salt. Let rise to top of pan plus a little more
  4. Place a pan with 1″ of water on the bottommost rack. This will create a steamy environment that gives the crust more texture. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  5. Bake for about an hour (time will vary; check it at 50 minutes) until done. The bread will sound hollow when thumped.
  6. Turn out on racks, cover with dish cloth and let cool.

3 thoughts on “It’s A-l-i-v-e”

  1. Last night I did a pizza dough based on the previous recipe:

    Mix 1C starter plus 2 C flour and 1 1/2C water in a bowl. Cover and set on the counter overnight. The next morning, add 1 1/2 C flour, 2T olive oil and 1 t baking soda. Knead gently into a ball.

    Let rise until doubled, about 3 hours, then press down. Repeat. The last time, spread it in the pan.

    Bake as you would the original crust.

    It’s fairly doughy, but has a nice flavor.

  2. okay, further starter geekiness: letting it sit at a moderately cool room temperature (60°F) for multiple days adds happy sour flavor. I made some Kaiser rolls this evening with 1C starter, 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp honey, and about 1 1/2 C flour (enough to make it doughy).

    Mix into a dough ball. Let it rise about 2 hours, pat it down. Let it rise another hour, pat it down. Divide the ball into four smaller balls, flatten them into thick discs, and let ’em rise in a warm place (85°F) for about 45 minutes to an hour.

    Preheat an oven to 450°F with a pan of water in the bottom. Let it steam for about 15 minutes.

    Optionally, dab the tops of the bread with water and sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on them. Then quickly open the door, put the tray in, and shut the door. (You don’t want to let the steam out.) Turn the oven down to 350°F and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls are hollow sounding when thumped.

  3. For the pancakes, I’ve had equal success using only a heaping tablespoon of the starter, padding out the rest with water. The sourdough culture will happily multiply overnight.

    The primary advantage of using less starter is you don’t have to refresh the entire starter pool as frequently.

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