Sourdough Starter Discard Crackers
One of the first sourdough recipes I tried was for Sourdough Starter Discard crackers. I make them often and my favorite recipe is from Little Spoon Farms. I alternate making them with Herbs de Provence, or “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning, but this weekend I experimented a bit by added an additional tablespoon of butter which seemed to helped them to cook more evenly, and I used Savory Seasoning. Savory is a dried mix from the supermarket that is fragrant and fresh tasting mix of garlic, black pepper, orange peel, carrot, basil, oregano, parsley, fennel, thyme, marjoram, and cayenne.
This is my new favorite mix for my discard crackers.
Little Spoon Farms’
Sourdough Discard Crackers
· ¾ cup (200 g) discarded sourdough starter (stirred down)
· 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter (melted)
· ¼ teaspoon (1 g) fine sea salt
· 2 teaspoons dried herbs (Herbs de Provence)
· ¼ teaspoon (1 g) salt for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (162°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a mixing bowl and let cool.
2. Weigh the sourdough discard, dried herbs and salt into the bowl of melted butter and mix thoroughly until well combined. Use an off-set spatula to spread the mixture in a thin, even layer onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with salt.
3. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and score the crackers. Bake for an additional 20-50 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown. Let cool completely before breaking into squares. (Oven temperatures vary, check the crackers after 20 minutes into baking to make sure they do not over bake. See notes.)
· Because these crackers are so thin, in some ovens they can brown quite quickly.
I recommend checking them at the 20 minute mark the first time you bake them to make sure they do not over bake and burn. Adjust your baking time accordingly!
· The discard can be used either, cold, right out of the fridge or at room temperature.
· Store in an air-tight container for up to one week at room temperature.
· Fresh herbs and grated hard cheeses can be added to create different flavors.
· Scoring the crackers is optional. The sheet can easily be broken into pieces after baking and cooling off.
Sourdough Focaccia Recipe
I love all the pretty focaccias I see on IG on “Focaccia Friday”, but I had yet to find one that was super easy and yummy. Plus I’d like to be able to use some of my sourdough starter with it. I also need to use some serious amounts of rosemary off of my rosemary bush. Thank you to @sourdough_enzo for sharing your focaccia recipe in your stories. I followed it exactly and it came out amazing! I’ll definitely be making this one again.
In terms of timing, I mixed all the ingredients together at noon on Saturday, and then did the first stretch and fold at 12:45, let it sit until 1:30, and then did 3 coil folds over the next three hours (1:30, 2:30, and 3:30). I put it in the fridge at 3:30, then took it out at 10pm to sit at room temperature overnight. On Sunday morning I preheated the oven while making my morning tea, prepped it with my favorite toppings (rosemary, Kalamata olives, and sea salt) and put it in the oven at 7:30am.
You can see how pretty it turned out! I will definitely be baking this one again.
Focaccia Recipe from @sourdough_enzo:
1.Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 30 - 45 minutes
2.Perform 1 stretch and fold
3.Let sit for 30 - 45 minutes
4.Perform 3-4 coil folds over 3 hours
5.Transfer dough with coil fold motion to buttered AND generously oiled baking sheet. Cover and put in the fridge.
6.Pull out of the fridge at 10pm and let sit covered at room temperature (65F) until around 7am the next day.
7.Preheat the oven to 425F.
8.Dock/dimple the dough with wet or oiled fingers and top with desired toppings.
9.Bake at 425F for 25-30 minutes.
Sourdough English Muffins
I am always looking for something new to try with all the sourdough discard, so I was excited to find this recipe from King Arthur Baking. This recipe was easy, and my husband says it’s one of his favorite things I’ve ever made. So yes, the Delaney Test Kitchen was a success on this one. It does make a LOT of English Muffins though, so my recommendation is if you do not have a hungry teenage boy in your house, then you’ll want to freeze some for future breakfasts.
Or, this recipe can be easily halved: Halve all of the ingredients; for a slightly faster rise, use 2 teaspoons yeast, rather than 1 1/2 teaspoons.
One important note: you’ll cook these on a large electric griddle. Mine is the Presto Electric Griddle from Amazon, and it cooks very evenly.
Sourdough English Muffins
It's Focaccia Friday!
Last week on IG I was drawn to the beautiful pictures that @mamaluu_bakes shared of her Sourdough Focaccia, and she shared the fabulous recipe from Dan @mothership_breads. I had to try it for myself in the Delaney Test Kitchen. And @mamaluu_bakes, I took your advice and also used my Kitchen Aid and it worked great.
You can find the recipe on both of their IG feeds, and I’ve reposted it here for you as well:
-400g tipo 00 or all-purpose flour
-80g mature 100% hydration whole grain based starter
-20g extra virgin olive oil, and extra for coating pan
-10g sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together until a shaggy dough forms.
Let this rest 30 minutes and after that knead it using stretch and folds/Rubaud method for about 4 min., let rest 10 min. and then Rubaud for another 3-4 minutes.
Cover dough with a damp tea towel and let it bulk ferment at room temperature for approx. 5 hours performing stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 1.5 hours. Bulk until the dough has nearly doubled in volume. My kitchen is quite warm, between 27C and 30C and this took me ~5 hours.
After that, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in a 4C fridge overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24).
In the Morning: A couple hours before baking take a 10” cast iron skillet and coat it generously with olive oil. Take the dough out of the fridge and gently ease it from the bowl to skillet with olive oil coated fingers.
Flip the dough ball around to coat it with olive oil.
Then let the dough proof, covered with a damp tea towel, in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
At this point the dough should spread out considerably towards the edges of the pan and appear very soft and bubbly. It would be considered overproofed for making regular bread.
Gently lift the dough up at the edges to let air bubbles from underneath the dough escape, and to allow the olive oil to redistribute underneath it. Gently push the dough to the edges of the pan and dimple it with your fingers. Top with desired toppings, sprinkle with flaky salt and drizzle generously with more extra virgin olive oil.
Bake it in a preheated 500F oven for about 20 minutes, cool until just warm, and enjoy!
Classic Sourdough from the BBC
So now that I’m following all of these amazing bakers on IG, I’ve been inspired to try different sourdough recipes. So I tried this recipe for Classic Sourdough that I found on the BBC.
As you can tell from the picture, I did not get that classic, open crumb that sourdough is known for. And I don’t know why. My starter was active, and I followed all of the instructions perfectly. It was very humid the day I made this, and the dough was very sticky. Was that it? I’d love any advice from my fellow bakers. Or even a reference to your favorite never-fail sourdough recipe.
That being said, it was super yummy, and the crust was perfectly crumbly. It’s almost all gone and it’s still on the cooling rack. My taste testers approve.
If any of you want to try this recipe variation for yourselves, here is the link to the BBC’s Classic Sourdough. And let me know how it goes!
After my great success with Sourdough Bread – all thanks to the virtual guidance of Patrick Ryan from Firehouse Bakery in Ireland and the website ilovecooking.ie – I felt emboldened to try again. This time I made Ryan’s Olive Sourdough Loaf recipe. The steps were almost identical to the regular loaf, so I felt confident about that. And it was beautiful when it came out of the oven, but that has happened before but without success. The Olive Loaf was perfect! It looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. Another Sourdough Win!
HINT: If you decide to try this one too, I recommend getting started with the dough around 2pm/2:30 in the afternoon. That gives you plenty of time to let it proof before putting it in the fridge overnight for the second proofing. Then you can cook it first thing in the morning.
So if you are feeding your starter each day, then you are discarding quite a bit of starter each day. Especially if you have a couple of starters going like I do. It definitely seems wasteful, especially when you are working so hard to keep it alive. It turns out there are a ton of recipes out there with ideas of things to make with that discard.
So far, my favorite sourdough discard recipe is from Little Spoon Farms for Sourdough Discard Crackers. Even when I couldn’t get my sourdough bread to work, I could always make good crackers thanks to this recipe. Plus it is SUPER EASY!!
This recipe also offers some room for creativity in terms of seasoning. We prefer to use herbs de provence, but using everything but the bagel or Italian seasoning makes for yummy crackers as well.
Cracker Mixture Finished Crackers Yum!
Keeping your Sourdough Starter Alive
So I strongly suggest getting a bit of sourdough starter to get started. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got mine from the Georgia Sourdough Company, via a regular order from Garnish and Gather. Or if you know a crazy baker like me, we always have some starter to spare. So this post is NOT about getting your starter started, but keeping it alive. I’ve read some articles about this where the started has been passed along through the decades, so it can’t be too hard, right?
In the beginning I was afraid that keeping the starter alive would be very time consuming. Even though there are only two ingredients, there’s a bit of exacting measurements involved and it is a bit messy. But it has become very routine and much easier as time has gone on.
What is the Starter, exactly? The sourdough starter is a combination of flour, water, wild yeast and bacteria that is used to make bread rise when baking. And you want the starter to be “strong” and very active and fluffy at the top before making bread. Bread made this way is referred to as “naturally leavened”.
And why exactly do I need to “feed” it? Once the water and flour are initially combined, the wild yeast and bacteria that are found naturally on the flour and in the environment will start to multiply. As they multiply they "eat" the flour in the jar. So once they have “eaten” all of the flour available to them, they must be fed again to keep growing and multiplying.
So how do I feed it? Here you have two options – you can store your starter at room temperature, or you can store it in the fridge. I keep one of each, just to hedge my bets.
If you are storing the starter at room temperature:
A few tips I've learned along the way:
1. I have transitioned to using the wide mouth, 2 cup mason jars for my starters. They are the perfect size, easy to access with the wider mouth, and fit nicely in the fridge.
2. Once every two weeks or so I will transition my starters into clean mason jars, and put the old ones in the dishwasher. This is more about aesthetics than anything as the jars can get pretty messy.
3. After feeding the starters but before covering them, I wipe down the outside of the jar, as well as the inside of the jar to keep it tidy and so I can easily see how the starter is doing.
4. Once you are done feeding the starters, wash all spoons and the countertop immediately. If you let the starter dry on them, it gets like concrete. It’s just too hard to get it off once its dry, so take care of it asap.
5. One way to determine if your starter is ready is to do the float test. My starter did not pass the float test until I found a way to keep my starter warm, as I shared in a previous post. My house was just too chilly. The float test is easy - fill a jar or cup with room temperature water and gently add a tablespoon of the starter into the water. If it floats, you are ready to go. If not, then keep feeding it and trying to get it more active.
After diagnosing the issues I was having with my slow starter (my house was too cold) and then getting it to be bubbly and lively, I was ready to try to make sourdough again. And I found the best teacher. The website is www.ilovecooking.ie (yes - from Ireland!) and the teacher of their Bread Masterclass was Patrick Ryan from Firehouse Bakery. In addition to the recipe, he also filmed a youtube tutorial, which I found helpful as well. I followed the recipe exactly, and my bread came out perfectly. I've never been so happy about bread!
You are supposed to let sourdough cool before slicing, and this is where I've always struggled. My previous breads were all too dense. But this one? The wait was worth it. It was perfect! It looked and tasted as good as anything I've gotten in San Francisco. Thanks for the lesson, Ryan! I'll be making your scones recipe next.....
When I first started with my bread making experiments, I realized that my kitchen need a serious gear update. Many of my tools were 20+ years old from when I first got married, and they were beat. So I upgraded with new mixing bowls, baking sheets, silicone baking mats, a new rolling pin and measuring spoons. It feels great to have an overall kitchen facelift.
I also needed some additional tools for bread. Let me save you the research and tell you what I ended up with:
1. A good mixing bowl with a cover
It turns out that the batter bowl and cover that I got from Pampered Chef eons ago is perfect for letting dough rise. Of course if you have a good sized pyrex bowl that will work, too. But this one really works great too. It's on their site for $20.
2. Banneton Proofing Baskets
The longer bread proofs, the more the gluten breaks down. This makes the bread easier to digest and more flavorful. A banneton proofing basket helps the bread to keep it's shape and it outs very professional-looking ridges on the top of your loaves. And you don't want to get cheap banneton or it will start to flake. I got mine on amazon from Bread Bosses for about $20 and it work great. Bonus - it comes with a dough scraper, which is another tool I didn't know I needed until I had it.
3. Bowl Covers
Last year I made a commitment to eliminate as much plastic and disposable plastics items as I could from my kitchen. So instead of covering my bowls with plastic, I am using fabric covers. I found a set of 3 cute red-striped ones in various sizes from Earth Bunny for $30 and they work great. I also bought a set of silicone ones from Modfamily on Amazon for $15 that work great if I need to let something rise in a warm oven.
4. A Kitchen Scale
Many of the recipes are very exacting, especially for sourdough. And many of the recipes are in grams. In order to be that precise, I realized that I needed a kitchen scale. I bought the Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Scale from Amazon. It was $25 and it works great.
5. A Dutch Oven
I did not have a proper dutch oven to use for making bread. After doing my research I shopped the sales at Christmas and got the enameled cast iron Staub 5.5QT Round Cocotte at Sur la Table. The cover is specially designs to baste as it cooks, so it helps to keep the crust of the bread moist. This prevents me from having to use a sheet pan full of boiling water in the bottom of the oven - which sounds like a disaster to me. Plus, having this beautiful pot in my kitchen makes me feel like Julia Child.
A more cost effective option is also a classic pyrex set of a bowl and cover. I found this one on Amazon for about $30.
Success with Yummy Yeasty Breads: French Style Country Bread and the Easiest Loaf You'll Ever Make from King Arthur Baking
As I mentioned in my earlier post, sourdough was testing my patience. And after all this work I really wanted something to show for it. So I decided to switch to yeast based baking for a bit.
I had some great success with two recipes form the King Arthur Baking site. The first was the French Style Country Bread. This was easy to follow, and delicious.
After this success, I decided to try another. This was the Easiest Loaf of Bread You'll Ever Bake. And it was. This recipe makes two loaves, and it was delicious. I highly recommend this as a recipe to get started with, maybe before you even try the sourdough. It was easy, and a crowd pleaser.
I learned that the missing link in my sourdough success was the temperature of my house. The starter needed it to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Well, we keep our house at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and my hubby wouldn't be on board for heating the whole house just to make bread.
One alternative is to place the starter in the oven with the light on. While I found this to be very effective when letting yeast-based dough rise, it wasn't really feasible for ongoing sourdough starter care.
After some research I found the solution on Amazon (of course) in a product that is used to grow seedings, or to help ferment kombucha. It's the VivoSun Heat Mat. This has been a total game changer. Now my starters (I have three going now) are alive and bubbly.
I started another sourdough starter as insurance, and placed the jar adjacent to the jar with the mat wrapped around it. This turned out to be a very happy accident, and the glass acted as a conductor. Now this is the best jar of starter I've got going.
I also learned that by keeping my starter jars all touching, and in the corner of the kitchen with the coffee pot, that it created a nice and toasty environment. These happy starters ended up created the wonderfully successful sourdough that I'll share with you tomorrow. Yum!
Kris Delaney is a marketing executive, foodie, travel enthusiast, and book nerd based in Atlanta, GA.