Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Experiments with Sourdough

Sourdough is so amazingly versatile.  Since I've actually started cooking again my sourdough starter has been on the bench 24/7.  I'm pouring it out every day to combine with other flour and topping the jar up with rye and water.  I mix the bubbling starter with two cups of wheat flour and water to a kind of soupy texture and leave it for another day or so (depending on the temperature) till it gets very bubbly.  I usually just add in more flour and a pinch of salt and make loaves of bread in different shapes.  I like the kind of crust I get from rubbing olive oil on the dough before I put it in the pan to rise.  I have also been experimenting with the starter.

A few days ago I mixed two eggs, a mashed banana, some olive oil and some date sugar with the starter (at the second stage), I possibly added some baking powder and salt as well.  I poured the mixture which was about cake batter consistency into mini muffin trays and a small, shallow, round cake tin and left them to rise for a bit, then I baked them at a low temperature until they were cooked.  The result was a very moist (although a bit flat) banana cake and muffins.  I squeezed some orange juice and sprinkled a tiny bit more date sugar over the cake and then took it to a friends house.  It tasted a bit like a large banana pancake.  The friend took the left overs to a morning tea at his work the next day and they were gobbled up with delight by his work-mates who wondered what it was.

I have also experimented with a sourdough fruit loaf which yeilded very yummy results.  I added about 1/4 cup of date sugar, 200 grams of dates and about 1/2 a cup of raisins to second stage starter (Which I made with a cup of cold Lady Grey tea this time).  I also added in some felt-over porridge and about 3/4 cup of oats and left it for 24 hours, covered, on the bench.  I added about 50 grams of melted butter and then poured the mixture into two loaf tins and baked them at 140 degrees on fan bake until they had set - probably around 40 minutes, I'm not sure.  The resulting loaves are moist, dense, sweet and slightly chewy - fantastic toasted with butter!

After watching Pippi Longstockings, my two and a half year old daughter wanted pancakes (for dinner)- and the sourdough (second stage) was just sitting there on the bench... so we mixed half a cup of it with two eggs, a pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of flour, fried the pancakes in butter and served them with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  They were crispy, with a very mild sourdough and rye flavour which was overwhelmed by the lemon.  They actually came out so thin they were more like crepes.  Delicious!

I made some focaccia styled bread today with lots of olive oil and garlic, rock salt and rosemary on top.  It will be ready to bake tomorrow.  My next experiment is going to be savoury muffins with herbs, cheese and whatever vegetables I can find to throw in.  Now that it is warming up I'm getting back into my cultures.  I have some amazingly healthy water kefir on the bench which are growing fast and producing lots of yummy natural fizzy drinks.  I quite like combining it with apple juice for the second ferment which makes a kind of cheat apple cider, lemon juice and honey is also nice.  I just dredged my caspian sea yoghurt culture out from the freezer - I couldn't find any information about whether it can survive being frozen but we'll soon find out.  The great thing about this culture is that, unlike regular yoghurt, you don't need to heat it, just mix it with milk and leave it on the bench overnight.  I also have a few surviving granules of milk kefir in a jar on the bench. I have been adding milk to it then using the whey (and curds) in cooking.  I could probably do with more milk kefir granules and then I can attempt the kefir cheese in Change of Heart - it sounds tasty.  I made some sauerkraut the other day and am considering making a lacto-fermented chutney with sultanas and ginger.  I haven't had much experience with lacto-fermented chutneys, but I'll give it a go.  Sorry there are no pictures, I seem to have misplaced my camera.


  1. I am really impressed Isa! I have a long way to go on culturing (and looking after cultures). Sourdough has possibly been my most successful culture, but then there is the sobering reality that my body does seem to do better without wheat. Damn. Cos' although my own sourdough is surely better for me than shop bread, it is also much more difficult to resist eating it once I've made it.

  2. I have sampled the sourdough and it was absolutley delicious!! The lacto-fermented chutney sounds like a great idea, I hope it works out!