Tuesday, November 1, 2016

From the Start(er)

Almost exactly two years ago I was gifted a sourdough starter. A little less than one year ago I was crazy enough to try to start my own. Amazingly, it worked. Since then I have ditched all commercial yeast, and have found a new love for my free time. Free time that I currently have very little of. Free time that to my happy surprise, a few people around me have decided deserves a little baking as well.

It's really just flour, water and air. The first two mixed in equal parts (1/2 c of flour, 1/2 c of water), and left for the natural world to do its magic 
(with the help of lactobacillus and yeast)

I've read through and tested a few recipes along the way. The dream of having the time (and/or attention span) to tend to turns is still just a dream. I do the best with what I have now, which is a 13-14 hour window, and very little attention. If I can, I'll get creative, which will be mainly what I share here, but I feel it would be wrong to not show the basic country sourdough the respect it deserves. Here's what works for me:

3 1/2 c white flour
1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 c starter (unfed)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Dilute the starter in the water. Add the flour and the salt and mix with your hands until it comes together. Cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and leave it alone for 10ish hours in a room temp-warm place. A longer fermentation in the refrigerator also works. Once it's doubled in size, turn it onto a floured towel (gluten free or rice flour prevents sticking), shape it into a ball by pulling the corners up and over itself, and place in a bowl or basket. Cover it with a kitchen towel for another 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Preheat your oven to 500 with a cast iron dutch oven inside. When ready to bake, flip the dough into the cast iron, remove the towel, score the top, and bake with lid on at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take the lid off and reduce heat to 450 for another 15 minutes. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

As much as I love elaborate and challenging recipes, there is something to be said about enjoying the simple things. A good grilled cheese. Toast with apricot jam or apple butter. Toasted with olive oil, salt and garlic. And all from a little flour, water and air.  

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