You have successfully made a sourdough starter culture (hopefully) – what do you do with it now?
Through years of trial and error, we’ve figured out the best maintenance regime for us, which involves minimum activity. Through keeping our sourdough starter in the fridge we only need to revive/feed it once a week to keep the bacteria/yeast alive and happy.
Feeding a sourdough starter:
Sometimes you just don’t have the time/resources (flour) to use your sourdough starter for a full recipe every week so you need to do a maintenance feed (split).
Remove 1 tbsp starter and bin – replace with 1tbsp flour and enough water to re-constitute a paste. Leave on the counter to warm up and see a few bubbles. Then return to fridge for storage till next week.
We tend to make at least a loaf of bread every week so hardly ever need to do a simple maintenance feed now the starter is strong and fully established.
Using your starter:
The process always starts the night before you want to bake bread, scones or pancakes. Take your starter out of the fridge. Transfer the whole contents to a medium-sized bowl, rinsing out the jar with a little freshwater
and adding that too. Stick the starter jar in the dishwasher with the rest of your dishes to clean it. Add 100g flour (plain is fine) and fresh water to the sourdough in the bowl to make a wet paste (I call this the sponge). Cover loosely and leave on the counter overnight. The next day you should have a really bubbly mixture in the bowl. Remove 1-2 tablespoons of the sponge back into your clean jar and return to fridge for next week.
The remaining sponge can be incorporated into recipes as follows:
Incorporate your sponge into your favourite bread dough. We use the dough hook on our standing mixer for minimal mess. To about 80g sponge we add 1tsp salt (dissolved in a little water, 250g strong flour and enough water to make a dough. After kneading into a ball, we add half a tbsp olive oil to coat the mixer bowl, then cover loosely to prove for at least 2-3 hours in a warm place, till dough has doubled. Once risen, remove dough and shape. We tend to bake our bread in an oiled loaf tin, so make a sort of oblong shape first (like a “batard”). Remove dough and flatten slightly on a floured surface. First roll up in one direction then turn 90 degrees and roll in the other direction. Tuck the end seams under so the oblong has a smooth appearance on the top and place in your oiled tin. Just before baking in a hot oven (220 degrees C for about 40 minutes), score the smooth top of your loaf with a very sharp blade (to allow controlled expansion – usually a straight cut down the middle works very well). For the crispiest crust, place half a cup of cold water in a pre-heated tin in the oven – the steamy atmosphere really helps! Makes the nicest toast – enjoy with lashing of butter and jam!
Menna’s crempog recipe with sourdough is the best ever! Make your batter as usual with 2 eggs, one cup of milk and 1-2 cups of plain flour (do you prefer thin or thick pancakes?) and 1/2 cup of your sponge. Add 1 tbsp sugar if you want sweet crepes, a tsp salt if you want savoury. Mix well, and leave the batter for 1h in a warm place. Fry your pancakes in a buttered pan. You can turn over and stuff your pancakes with cheese sauce, chocolate sauce, jam or Nutella. The sourdough gives pancakes a light texture without having to add baking powder. If you split the eggs and beat the whites to a soft meringue, add 1-2 tbsp crème fraiche and a little salt, you can make some wonderful sourdough blinis to serve with hot smoked salmon, crème fraiche and lumpfish caviar J]]
Once you have your starter and sponge, the world is your oyster – you can add your sourdough to many recipes – the internet is full of ideas and methods for creating wonderful food incorporating sourdough. Our next adventure will be sourdough scones and I’d also like to make herby sourdough potato cakes/waffles.
Enjoy your experience taking things a little slower and “Bon Appetit”!