Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Sourdough

I know I say this a lot, but this month's challenge was something I was really excited about. Despite the fact that I am a "Daring Baker," I am still somewhat hesitant to try things that
have difficult reputations, so I was thrilled when Jessica announced that I would be tackling another one of my "someday" items.
Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I love bread. Most types. But there is a special place in my heart for sourdough. Chewy, flavorful, crusty... it is just goodness! And, on a personal note, Hubby and I went to San Fransisco for our honeymoon, so there is a special place in my heart for sourdough... But it was always something that intimidated me when I thought abut making it. Sourdough requires a starter. A starter is kinda scary. It is a living thing that requires care. I know, I have children, I can care for living things. But a starter just seemed... scary. The science and art of it was confusing, and I was sure it was beyond my capabilities. Jessica's recipes and instructions were
heaven-sent this challenge! She was detailed, she was readable, she was just a great host! Using just whole wheat flour and water, over the course of a week I went from this play-dough like ball (over there on the left) to this wet clay-like blob (over there on the right), then finally had this bubbly, gooey concoction. Meet Eve:
You see, most of the Daring Bakers who have been cultivating their sourdough starters for many years had named their starters, as they are living entities. So I named mine Eve - mother of many things in my kitchen!
The first thing Eve created with me was a traditional Hannukkah treat - jelly donuts. (Sufganiot.) Using the starter fresh from the container I made a sweet dough which puffed nicely when fried in oil, had great tang to it, and tasted really good filled with strawberry jam and rolled in cinnamon sugar!
The next project for Eve was the French Country Bread recipe which Jessica had given in the challenge. This one required us to use the starter to make a production leaven, then use that leaven to make a rustic bread. Kneading this bread was interesting because it was all by hand, very sticky, and really needed a bench scraper. Which I don't have. So I took Jessica's advice and used the next best thing - a well washed (and used up...!) gift card. It worked really well. I do recommend reading the recipe, as there are lots of steps and lots of time involved. But the time really was the most difficult part, especially when you are as "patient" as I am. After most of the day, though, I had a beautiful crusty loaf, hot from the oven. Of course, since this had taken most of the day, it was 10 pm when it came out. So cutting into it had to wait. Which was really hard because the smell was fantastic. Like, really amazing...! So the next day the loaf went back into the oven to warm. When I cut it I was totally rewarded. I got the holes I was hoping for, and the taste was fabulous. Chewy inside, crusty outside... Kinda dense, considering all of the holes there, but so good.
There was leftover production leaven after making the bread, and I didn't want any part of Eve going to waste. So I played around and found a way to make sourdough biscuits. Sweet sourdough, again.. This is me, I try to make dessert versions of pretty much everything... The biscuits were really good. But I kicked it up a notch by making them into sourdough short cakes. Yum!

Jessica, this was awesome. I am really excited to have this new skill under my culinary belt, and to have this wonderful new addition to my kitchen/family! I am going to have so much fun seeing what other great things Eve and I make together.
I highly recommend that you take a look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers created.
**Ok, Blogger is being weird, I don't know why it isn't letting me put in links. For the recipes go here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/sites/default/files/u11/62_Sour_Dough_-_DB_Dec_2012.pdf


  1. I love the name of your starter. It looks like everything went well with your first attempts at sourdough.

  2. Ruth, these look wonderful! Thanks so much for the kind feedback - I'm really thrilled you enjoyed it. Best of luck to you and Eve! xx.

  3. Sourdough was on my "someday" lis too - so nice to be able to try it out with the Daring Bakers for moral support! Great job on this challenge - you really went all out. Will you post the recipes for your doughnuts and biscuits? They sound awesome, and I will definitely be looking for uses for leftover sourdough starter!!

  4. Wow! I'm so impressed with your creativity. NEVER would I have thought to make doughnuts or shortcakes with this starter. I bet your family really enjoyed it!

  5. All of your creations look fantastic! Love the idea of making donuts with the starter, I'll have to try that!

  6. I think Eve is a perfect name for a starter! The doughnots look nice, I hope you'll post the receipe soon :)

  7. Nice job! What a great selection of sourdough treats. The doughnuts sound and look particularly good. I really, really love the idea of a fluffy doughnut with sourdough tang and sweet centre.

  8. Those doughnuts look to die for, what a fab idea! I've always been a bit scared of making doughnuts but maybe now that I have a sourdough starter I'll cowboy up and give them a go ;)

  9. I love the name "Eve" for a starter - hopefully, she will be the "Genesis" for many great things in your kitchen. It looks like she is already well on her way :-)

  10. I love how you got so many treats out of one batch of Eve! Did you save any to feed and care for? I only keep one starter (Herbie)...and give away leftovers lol Your Sufganiot. Country Bread and shortcakes look pehonmenal! Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!

  11. Amazing job, Ruth! Sorry for taking so long to visit... I'm on vacations in Brazil, but things have settled down now after the festivities, and I'm catching up!
    I would like to wish you a very happy 2012 and hope that your holiday celebrations were amazing!