This story from food critic Laura Reiley is about something near and dear to my heart: bread. Not just eating it, but making it yourself.
As I've written about before, I try to make bread products from scratch whenever I can. They just taste so much better than the prepackaged, preservative-laden kind. Most breads are relatively easy to make at home: Flour plus yeast plus water and sometimes oil makes the base for pizza dough or dinner rolls or bagels.
But sourdough bread is a bit different. It's more challenging to make completely from scratch, because it requires lots of attention and time to develop into a complex, yeasty dough. Laura's story gets into all of the nitty-gritty details, through the eyes of a local couple who make and sell sourdough bread in the bay area.
If you are intrepid enough to make sourdough in your own kitchen, you will soon become acquainted with what's known as a sourdough "starter." And often, the process of preparing your starter requires getting rid of various amounts of the starter you've been cultivating (it's a bacteria thing). There's nothing wrong with the starter you're ditching, you're actually doing so to help along the larger batch that's left behind.
But the leftover goo can easily be worked into baked goods like waffles or muffins, giving the classic bready products a tangy edge. Here are some suggestions for what to do with any sourdough starter you may have. For both of these recipes, it's best to start with an "unfed" starter, or some that is at the very beginning part of the sourdough process.
To make waffles, start with 1 cup of sourdough starter, then add it along with 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon light brown sugar to a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest overnight on the counter. When you're ready to make the waffles, whisk 1 large egg, ¼ cup melted unsalted butter and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract together in another bowl, then add the sourdough starter mixture. Add ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda and stir well to combine. Pour some of the batter into a waffle iron and cook according to appliance instructions, until browned. Serve immediately.
For muffins, start with ½ cup sourdough starter. Combine in a large bowl with 1 cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup rolled oats, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup oil (something neutral like canola), ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ⅓ cup sugar, 1 egg and ¾ cup raisins (or other dried fruit). Mix until you have a thick batter. Add water to thin out the mixture just a bit if necessary. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes on 350 degrees.
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