Morphing Sourdough Starters

Leave it to me to do the unthinkable, morph sourdough starters ! I know it is unconventional, but I can’t help experimenting in any new way I think up. I have for some time morphed together Desem starter and Northwest starter. The results have been very good. The already fermented wheat kept cool in the Desem starter adds a new dimension of flavor to a basic white recipe. The Northwest starter is such a vigorous all around starter that you can do just about anything to it and it keeps on going with gusto. Anyway, with the family wedding bearing down on me in two more weekends, I have been trying to bake more and freeze enough so I don’t have to bake while guests are here. Yesterday I had a marathon bake that lasted from 1:00pm to 7:00pm ! What was incredible is that I had all seven loaves plus a small baguette, that actually held up great all that time waiting their turn in the oven. I started with an overnight ferment using both Desem and Northwest starters. I made up a huge batch of sponge and let it set overnight at outside porch temps in the 50’s. Next morning I brought in the sponge and split it into two batches, mixing up each batch the same in the dough mixer and then putting the two batches together in a large bowl. I ended up with 14 lbs 12.5 ounces of dough! I made up seven loaves of bread at two lbs each and a small baguette at 12.5 oz. Here are some pictures of the dough just docked and weighed (the 12.5 oz dough was on the scale and not in the picture)  :

Wheat white dough docked

Here they are after their first shaping and bench resting , waiting for their second shaping:

wheat white shaped

Here they are proofing, you can see all seven loaves and one baguette:

wheat white proofing

I baked the baguette first, as I was waiting for the full heat of the oven to come up:

wheat white baguette

Here are various pictures of the seven two pound loaves:

wheat white bread

wheat white bread

wheat white bread loaves

Wheat white loaf

Here is a closeup of the first loave’s crumb, as it was one of the first, it was slightly underproofed, a compromise so the last loaf doesn’t fall from overproofing:

wheat white crumb

I was pretty worried about staggering the loaves for baking. I had three loaves in the kitchen proofing, two proofing on the outside porch in the 60’s degrees and two proofing in the refrigerator in the 40’s degrees. I moved the loaves out of the refrigerator and to the porch as the baking proceeded and then into the nicely warm kitchen as the day went on. I had great luck as the last loaf came out terrific and did not overproof at all! The morphing of the two starters turned out some great loaves of bread. I called them Wheatwhite loaves.

Danish Pumpernickel

I’ve been baking using the Danish Starter again and it is really working out great! I made up some Pumpernickel bread using whole ground Rye. The dough felt kind of silky and soft. The raising power of the starter is really good. Here are the loaves:

Pumpernickel

pumpernickel

pumpernickel

The Pumpernickel came out chewy, moist, wonderfully flavored and not only makes great sandwiches but terrific toast in the morning covered with butter and cream cheese along with a dark cup of coffee.

Danish Rye Sourdough Bread and Pumpkin Rye Muffins

Danish Rye
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Thanks to Nina from Denmark, I have a terrific Danish Sourdough Starter. She actually sent me two, but I’ve only tried one so far. I baked up  a batch of Pumpkin sourdough muffins using the Danish starter which turned out great and was floored by the taste of a Danish Rye bread I baked up today! This Rye has spectacular flavor. I actually was pretty excited when I smelled the starter brewing as it smelled so good. Here are some pictures of the booty:

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Catching Up!

I have been finishing up home schooling for my kids, getting ready for a wedding and fixing up my house, besides trying to put in a garden, but I am still baking sourdough!

I haven’t had as much time to write on my blog because I am also converting my recipes and sourdough journey into a book. It will take me some time, but eventually there won’t be a “Special Recipes” online recipe printouts for sale. It will still be available for those who purchased it, but I will continue to convert it to a sourdough book instead. Here are some of the breads I have been baking while I have been away from my blog:

Here is a loaf of Basic White Sourdough(recipe on my website):

Basic White

Here is the crumb from the Basic White:

Basic White crumb

I was experimenting with a bread called Freckled Sourdough. Here are some pictures of Freckled bread:

Freckled Sourdough

Freckled bread

Freckled

Freckeled Crumb:

Freckled crumb

This is a Desem Flavored White Sourdough:

Desem Flavored White

Desem flavored white

Desem flavored white

And this is a Flaxseed Malted Rye:

Flax Malt Rye

I am hoping sometime this Summer to have my boys build me a outdoor clay oven. I can’t wait!

Sourdough Improvisation

Today was improvisation day, or I should say yesterday was. I made up a lower hydration batch of sourdough using a little of this and some of that. I also added some more of that malted Rye berries to the dough. I mixed, proofed, formed and set the dough to refrigerate overnight. Today this is what I got:

Malted Berry bread

Malted sourdough

more bread

improvising day

Malted sourdough Ryecloseup

This was mostly a white sourdough with some added Whole Wheat, Rye, and some malted Rye berries. The crumb came out great and the taste is superb with the nice sharp tanginess of spiked (with Rye and W.W.) sourdough and added crunch of malted Rye berries. It is nice to have an improvisation day with no measurements, no weighing and just doing what you want to!

Sourdough Bagels

I’ve been wanting to bake up some sourdough bagels so …. I did. I mixed up the dough which was a stiff dough, using Northwest starter and let it proof:

bagel dough

I made up the bagels using 4 oz of dough for each bagel:

bagels

After they were done proofing, I simmered them in water which had salt and malt syrup added to it. Then I brushed on an egg glaze and sprinkled on a topping of onion flakes, poppy seeds or nothing. Then into the oven and:

bagles

bagels

bagels

This batch made about 28 bagels, and here is a picture of the inside:

inside

You really need sourdough to make a great bagel!

Honey Butter Cornbread….sourdough…really!

I have a special treat this time. I made up a batch of sourdough cornbread. This is what I did:

I started with my mixer and added:

  • 3 cups of sourdough starter (at 166% hydration)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter which has cooled to lukewarm
  • 3 large eggs (beaten slightly before putting in mixer)
  • 1/4 cup of honey or malt syrup

I mixed these ingredients together just enough to incorporate them. Then in another bowl I mixed these ingredients together:

In a separate bowl add:

  • 2. 5 cups of freshly ground cornmeal
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Stir all of these dry ingredients together with a spoon until well mixed and then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients which are in the mixer. Turn on the mixer and stir just long enough to mix all ingredients together. Then pour out your cornbread batter into a large bundt or cake pan which has been sprayed with pan oil or greased.

batter

The batter came up about 3/4 of the pan sides. I let the batter set for one hour to allow the cornmeal to absorb the liquid. Then I baked the bread in a preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes. Here is what came out of the oven:

cornmbread

Yea, I know the pan is crooked, but it is a heavy pan that bakes great!

sourdough cornbread

Here it is cut up:

Yummy!

Closeup:

closeup

This cornbread turned out great and was moist and crumbly. I served it with Poquito Beans which are a great complement to Honey Butter Sourdough Cornbread!

poquito beans

The Poquito Beans are native to Santa Maria California and are a hidden treasure. We get them special ordered from the coast of California in large bags. I come from that area and I make up the beans with my own special recipe which is oohed and aahhed by anyone who tries them.  They have bacon and lots of garlic in them. You have never had a terrific coastal meal until you have had Poquito Beans, fresh baked sourdough and barbequed rib steaks or barbequed fresh tuna. Life is good!

Bakery Sourdough

I was in an in-store bakery in town, and I saw a display of sourdough breads that looked wonderful. I bought a sourdough boule to take home and evaluate. Here are a couple of pictures, one of the outside and one of the inside:

Bakery Bread outside 

Bakery Bread Crumb

Like I said, the bread really looked great. However, once we tried the bread there was disappointment all around. The crust was tough and gummy like a piece of leather. The wonderful looking bubbly crust was a sham, it was a glaze brushed on that blistered. The texture of the crumb was just like a bakery white loaf and was a real disappointment. The flavor was just not there, there was no development of wheat flavor, it tasted just like vinegar. I believe this bread was just a packaged bakery loaf mix that had vinegar added. When you tried to chew the piece of bread, it turned into a gummy ball and was indigestible. I was actually in shock. I had no idea that the bakeries would go to such lengths to make a fake loaf of sourdough, when it is so easy to turn out great sourdough. Their bread was not fermented in any way. No flavor, no aroma, no bite to the crumb. Just plain disappointment. No more bakery bread for me, thankyou, but no thankyou!

Sourdough Basic White Plus …

I started a preferment with for a basic white sourdough the night before baking. Next morning it looked like this:

preferment for a basic white

Instead of just water I used part evaporated milk in the recipe. It makes a more tender crumb and gives you a darker crust. Here are some pictures of the finished loaves:

first loaf

second loaf

all loaves

large holes in crumb