January 7, 2010

Accidental Sourdough

I told Sharon (In Stitches), that two things I wanted to do this winter was soapmaking and sourdough bread. I used to make a lot of soap, but somehow stopped a number of years ago. I've tried my hand at sourdough bread too, but that was nowhere near as successful as my soap. The one or two loaves I made were heavy as a rock and as hard as one too. I figured it was about time to try it again soon.

I hadn't planned on trying a sourdough starter yet, but I did manage to make one accidentally. It happened because of what I've been reading about the benefits of soaking whole grains (a couple of good articles on that here and here.) For yeast bread making, one thing I've been trying has been to mix whole wheat flour with water and some whey, and letting it sit overnight. The next morning I prepare my yeast along with the other ingredients, mix, knead, and bake away.

Well, one morning I couldn't get to it. In fact the whole thing sat overnight a second time and by the time I got to it the following morning, it had risen just as though it contained yeast! I was amazed and figured that I had accidentally made a sourdough starter.

My sourdough starterI started feeding it, and it kept on growing. After about a week I decided to try to bake a loaf of bread. I couldn't find a recipe I liked, so I made one up.

My sourdough bread!It worked! Not perfectly, but my bread rose and was not only edible but tasty. After my failure years ago, it was exciting to have my first success.

I by no means feel that I've got a handle on this sourdough thing. This first loaf had a muffin-like consistency rather than like yeast bread. Still, it's a start, and I hope to improve my loaves with some experimentation. I've also been experimenting with sourdough pancakes and muffins. I've even added it to cake in place of buttermilk. What I need is a sourdough cookbook or at least to start collecting recipes. Yesterday Sharon sent me her recipe for Sourdough Applesauce Cake. I can't wait to try it! Bread of course, is my main concern. Hopefully in the near future I can show you some real successes!

Accidental Sourdough photos & text copyright January 2010 


Flower said...

You know I have never tried to make sourdough bread..but I do like it! Especially with lots of fresh butter!! :)
Haven't made soap either. I don't care for the lard....lye....part.

Sharon said...

I didn't think about a sourdough bread recipe. I have 'em galore. I used to bake three loaves a week. I'm too lazy tonight to get up. If I forget to send 'em to you, remind me.

Alison said...

Woo-hoo, more fermentation!!

Yes, I love sourdough! In fact, Geodyne gave me some starter at New Year (which I haven't used yet. Must get my bottom in gear).

My last starter got neglected at the back of the fridge a couple of years ago. I have to say, I didn't like that one much - but a bigger problem was getting into the habit of baking bread. Let's see if I do any better this time!

Leigh said...

Flower, if you love sourdough you should give it a try! Soap though, you don't have to use lard. Many recipes call for a combination of fats. I've used hydrogenated shortening and made good soap. Lye, well, yes it's caustic. Care is needed especially with children around. Still, the lard and lye are modified chemically during saponification and the result is soap.

Sharon, oh yes, a bread recipe please. The one in Nourishing Traditions made too big a batch. Wild Fermentation didn't give me a plain recipe and I'm not ready to try anything fancy yet.

Alison, yay! Does that mean you'll be blogging about it? I agree that it's easier to spend a few seconds a day feeding the starter than planning out baking the bread. Still, I've made our bread for about 16 years now so the adjustments for sourdough aren't too bad.

Woolly Bits said...

I do like sourdough bread - it has much more taste than just yeast bread. but I usually use that for darker breads with rye flour. which tend to be heavier anyway. but they do stay fresh longer than yeast/wheat bread!
happy experimenting!

Theresa said...

Don't you just love happy accidents? Looks great Leigh! It seems that every bread sold in OR is sourdough, and to be frank, it's heavy and unappealing. In fact, finding good bread here is almost impossible. I make my own , although I cheat and use a bread machine and make non sourdough French bread. Applesauce anything sound very yummy!

Renee Nefe said...

other than Amish Friendship bread, I've never tried sourdough. I hope you get it to make the bread the way you like it though.

Saturday I made french bread (w/ yeast) to take to my brother's house. They loved it so much they asked to keep the second loaf. Now I need to make more. :D

charlotte said...

I love sourdough! But I never keep a sourdough going, I always make a new starter. That way I can bake as seldom as I want to.
I basically make two types of sourdough: one based on wheat, which only "goes for" 12 hours and is strted with a tiny amount of yeast. I use the this starter together with more yeast to make ciabatta dough or Italian landbread, two breadtyes with a nice crust and large holes!
The other type is based on rye and I start it with a spoonful of plain joghurt and a tiny amount of yeast. It goes for three days, and I use it to bake rye bread with walnuts. let me know if you'd like a recipe.

Benita said...

I love sourdough! And you, my dear, are hard on a girl trying to lose weight. LOL!!

I want to get back to making my own bread again, I used to years ago. Yumm!!!

Leigh said...

Bettina, I didn't know that about staying fresh longer. Good to know! The sourdough starter I planned to try used rye flour instead of wheat. I'll have to try a rye bread recipe because I love rye bread too.

Theresa, how strange about buying bread in Oregon! Good for you for making your own. Actually I have a bread machine too, though I've lost the paddle to it. So now I do the kneading with my Kitchen Aid and let it rise the first time in the bowl. I shape and allow the second rise plus bake in my bread machine. It's a little extra work but acceptable.

Renee, I'd forgotten about Amish Friendship Bread. I used to make that a long time ago too. I'm guessing any sourdough starter would do for it though.(?)

Charlotte, how interesting. I'd love some recipes! Since the stuff grows I figure I need to use it as much as possible :)

Benita, sorry! *LOL. Still, by making your own bread you can determine the ingredients and get healthier bread!

Marie said...

I love sourdough and that was actually one of my goals as well this year, Hillbilly Housewife has I guess what you would call a cheater recipe you do put yeast in but a very small amount and let it rise in the oven overnight. But I wonder if I could actually accomplish a starter that contains no yeast?
As for the soap what kind did you make, Lye? So far I have only done cheater melt and pours.
I guess I cheat a lot, ha ha ha

Leigh said...

Maries Cottage, I've noticed that a lot of recipes for sourdough call for a little yeast. I really debated over this for the longest time. I finally decided that when I officially tried my starter, I'd try it without, but resort to it if I couldn't get it going on my own. Fortunately that decision was taken away from me and my starter had been doing really well on it's own! I'm pretty excited about that and as long as I remember to feed it daily, I hope to keep it going for a long, long time.

Regarding soap making, I made hard soaps with lye. Even back then though I discovered that it was difficult to find. I'd someday like to experiment with making my own with hardwood ashes, which we have in abundance. (Would also come in handy for indigo dyeing and preparing corn). I'm looking for a good bargain on a wood barrel for that. :)