What to do with your starter excess? I always feel bad just pouring it down the drain. However sometimes I have to pour out the full cup of each starter to make room for the cup of new feeding that has to get added in. Even when I do use the pour off for sourdough pancakes, there is often a good 0.5-1 cup of excess re-fed starter in the proofing bowls. In either case, I hate to pour good starter down the drain. If I follow the recipes in books like Tartine they really are only using a very small fraction of the total starter, albeit for great recipes. I wanted to see if I could use the starter as the basis for a bread by having it substitute for comparable quantities of water and flour. My first try at this was two weeks ago. I didn't use any olive oil or leavening. I had chance to have long rise times. This time around I had some new garlic infused oil I wanted to try using but didn't have enough time to allow the sourdough to definitely rise in time so added 0.25 tsp of yeast. I'll try to post pictures later, but the results were great!
Ingredients • However much 100% (by volume) starter you have left over. • Additional water to get to 1 cup total water • 0.5 cup wheat flour • Additional white flour to get to 3 cups of flour • 1.5 tsp kosher salt • 1.5 tsp sugar • 2 TB olive oil • up to 0.25 tsp instant yeast
Directions 1. Night before, your excess starter from feeding cycle into measuring cup to determine total amount of existing water and flour. Based on 100% hydration, if you have 1 cup of starter you'd have half a cup of water and half a cup of flour. Preferably have 1 cup of starter or more for this step. 2. Add the half cup of whole wheat flour and let soak over night. 3. In the morning before making bread, mix in olive oil, sugar, yeast (if used) and additional water. Mix thoroughly by gently stirring/folding. 4. Put additional white flour into a bowl leaving about 1 cup or so on the side for kneading. 5. Pour starter mixture over the flour and incorporate completely 6. Leave rest in the bowl, covered, for 30 minutes 7. Work additional flour in and knead in bowl until ready to be turned out onto floured surface 8. Knead dough incorporating enough flour to achieve nice smooth consistency. Knead for 10-15 minutes. 9. Spray metal bowl with PAM and place dough in bowl covered. 10. Let rise until doubled in size. Will be about 2-3 hours with yeast and longer than that without. 11. When double in size turn out onto floured surface and cut into number of loaves you want (probably 1-3). 12. Work dough into balls and let rest for 30 minutes. 13. Form dough into final loaf shape and place on parchment paper. Cover, either with a bowl or other covering or a damp towel. 14. When doubled in size preheat oven to 500 degrees with stone and tray for steaming. 15. At this time uncover the loaves, coat with flour and slash. If oven will be longer than 15 minutes to come to temperature re-cover the loaves. 16. When oven is up to temperature boil 2 cups of water in the microwave. 17. Place loaves on stone by working the parchment paper. 18. Put 1 cup of the boiling water into the pan 19. Close oven and set thermostat for 450 degrees 20. Bake for 30 minutes (or longer to get more crust). 21. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
I've read this website and blog for years. Over those years I've tried lots of different breads from lots of books. I haven't made a truly serious study of it. I'm not baking multiple loaves a week, nor am I going through formal training to become a baker. However I do have lots of books and recipes that I've tried repeatedly. The first bread I ever made was a focaccia bread from a recipe I found in a USENET posting way back in the early days of the internet. It was all I could find at the time. Throughout college I used that plus the recipe for french baguette from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." In recent years I've added lots of bread books to my collection, and lots of trial and error. I have the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and the follow-on book. I have a book on ancient bread making. I have the Tartin bread book. I'm at the stage where I want to start trying to do things more seriously. However I'm also at the stage where I can sort of wing it and have pretty good results.
Throughout the years I always had a facination for sourdough breads. When I moved to my current location I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who has been feeding the same starter for over 35 years. He gave me a sample of it and it is the basis for all of the sourdough cooking that I do. It is a very vigorous starter that I keep in the fridge and feed 1 cup of water and 1 cup of unbleached King Arthur All Purpose flour every 1-2 weeks. It has served me well and I look forward to continuing with it.
Like many others I will be posting recipes and pictures of the results of those recipes. Some will be from the standard sources. Others, like my first entry, will be the results of my experimentation. I don't always follow the rules as much as I should, but as long as the results are good (or at least good enough) then I guess I shouldn't complain. It is just a bit intimidating to make posts of such amateur results when there are so many amazing posts of delicious and beautiful breads by other members. We all start somewhere I suppose, and this is where I'm starting the sharing of my bread adventures online.