Monday, January 24, 2011

My Sourdough has Bought the Farm

I have been "under the weather" lately, and haven't been doing the normal baking and cooking I usually do.  Consequently, my sourdough has died.  It sits on my counter lifeless with a layer of black ooze liquid on top.  I feel a tremendous amount of guilt, as I had cultivated a very tangy and tasty starter, and now I will have to start over.  Poor little bugs.  I neglected them to death. (Don't let the HSUS know! They'll file a lawsuit against me!)
All is not totally lost.  I can do one of two things:  Try to rehabilitate the old starter and hope some spark of life is left, or start fresh with a new one.  To rehabilitate a dying starter, I would stir it up, black gunk and all, and add a cup of milk and a cup of flour.  After 24 hours, I would pour off half that starter and add milk and flour again, until I get a bubbly fresh starter going again.  It could take several days to bring it back to life, which means wasting a lot of milk and flour.
It seems at this point, it would take several tries to get this baby alive a kickin' again, so I will opt to dump it down the sink (great for your septic system, if you live out of town) and start over.   Here is my recipe for sourdough starter:
Sourdough Starter
1 C plain yogurt with active cultures
1 C milk that has been scalded and cooled
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp yeast
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk in a plastic or glass jar/container.  Let the mixture set out in a warm place for 24-48 hours, (uncovered) or until it becomes bubbly and smells sour.   If at any time your starter turns pink, throw it out and scald the container before using it again.
You can store this in the fridge for a week without feeding it, or leave it on the counter if you use it frequently during the week, just remember to add a cup of flour and a cup of warm water to feed it, every time you use it, and at least once a week.

With this starter, I can provide my family with tasty warm breads and cakes that are much cheaper than buying store bought.  It really doesn't take much more effort to use sourdough in my pancakes, or make up a batch of refrigerator biscuits, or fill the freezer with waffles to pop in the toaster.
I have about three or four standby recipes that I use every week, but you can add sourdough to any recipe.  You just add 1 cup of sourdough, and reduce the liquid and the dry ingredients by 1/2 C each.  You can also add in a cup of sourdough to store bought cake mix, or brownies, and not reduce the ingredients, and get a very moist and tangy product.  Just follow the directions on the box, and add the 1 C sourdough also.

Sourdough Refrigerator Biscuits

1 T yeast proofed in 1/2 C warm water
6 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
3 T sugar
1 C Crisco or Lard
1 C Sourdough starter
2 C Buttermilk

Cut shortening into dry ingredients, in a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients, and add to flour mixture. Turn into a greased 10 C plastic container with a tight fitting lid, and store in the fridge. This is good for five days if kept cold.
To make biscuits, take out desired amount of dough, and pat out to 1/2 inch thick on a floured board. Cut biscuits, place on a baking sheet or pizza stone with sides touching, and let rise for half an hour. Brush with melted butter, and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. This makes about five dozen light as air biscuits.

You can make a quick starter the night before, if you are wanting to make sourdough pancakes for a special occasion, but don't want the responsibility for keeping a starter full time.  Just use 1 C warm water, 1 C flour, 2 T sugar and 2 1/2 T yeast.  Mix the ingredients up in a bowl the night before, and then dip out 1 C of starter and make the pancake recipe below.  
I like to use this recipe instead of a more traditional one where you make the "sponge" the night before, and then measure out 1/2 C of the mixture to put back in your starter.  I am not disciplined enough to remember to set out the sponge, so I just dip out of my starter jar and make these. 
Sourdough Hotcakes
1 1/4 C flour (I use a whole wheat) 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1 egg
1 C sourdough starter
2 T oil
about 2 C buttermilk, (just add it until you get the desired consistency)
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk.  Fry on a hot greased skillet until lightly golden brown on both sides, and serve with hot syrup and butter, or stewed spiced apples. 
As I bake this week, I'll add more sourdough recipes to the blog, and take pictures.    

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