Sourdough Starter, An Update

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about my sourdough starter, but I’m still moving it forward. I’ve tried

  • Sourdough pancakes
  • Sourdough biscuits, for biscuits and gravy
  • Sourdough orange rolls (like the pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but orange flavored. Because it was the day of the Super Bowl and I bleed orange and blue.)
  • Sourdough dumplings, in chicken and dumplings
  • More bread

I’d say that the only failure was the sourdough pancakes, and that was my fault— I failed to measure the baking soda sufficiently and apparently, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. It made the pancakes bitter.

I’ve been frustrated because these recipes are on the bland side. I think they’re relying on my sourdough starter for flavor, and it’s been pretty bland. I figured that I had very little to lose by approaching my starter more experimentally. I fed my starter about a teaspoon of sugar back in January. I noticed that it became much more active after that, and the smell grew stronger. I fed it about a tablespoon of honey in February, and it became even more active and stronger. Its consistency changed, so it’s less liquid and more spongy.

One of the reasons I like sourdough is that it tends to be lower-glycemic than regular bread, so I want to watch how much sugar I feed it. Its purpose is to feed the yeast, not to sweeten the starter.

This weekend, I baked bread according to the Clever Carrot tutorial. I didn’t add yeast, as I did the last time. I also didn’t let it rise for as long as I usually have 3.5 hours instead of 8-10 (that was just the logistics of my weekend.)

I was concerned because the first rise wasn’t dramatic at all. Neither was the second. But what happened in the oven was totally dramatic.

The bread I ended up with tastes like French bread, or Italian. Not bland, much lighter, not as crusty. I put a small loaf in to bake and got an enormous loaf out. The slash I made seems not to have helped at all. But whereas my small loaves have lingered, Mom has plowed through this loaf (and I haven’t shown restraint, either, especially when paired with beef barley soup, as we’ve done the last couple of nights for dinner.)

I’m encouraged by the progress. I’ll keep experimenting, and letting you know how it all works out!

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