One of the greatest pleasures I receive out of homemaking is the beautiful privilege we have to always be learning something new. As wives and mothers, our passion is to serve our families to the best of our abilities as we strive to provide a nourishing home environment for them. Learning new things about health, nutrition, organization, homemaking, and everything in between helps maintain the joy in our work. I have been learning all about sourdough over the last two months, and it has been delightful. I had so many misconceptions of the process – from believing it to always result in sour products, to the extended duration to prepare home baked sourdough goodies in this manner (learn more about sourdough myths here). I was utterly and completely wrong.
Today I made a dozen sourdough English muffins, a spice cake, and crackers all within 30 minutes. And it took 10 minutes to mix up the sourdough starter and flour the night before to let the ingredients sour overnight.
Sourdough is very simple. You almost cannot go wrong with it. And it has wonderful benefits for our bodies – making our grains more digestible by breaking down gluten, and neutralizing phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Sourdough is a process that is detailed throughout Scripture before the invention of commercial yeast – so the use of sourdough is a work of making organisms come alive from flour and water. It’s incredibly exciting to watch.
Making Your Own Sourdough Starter
To start, I chose the simple process of purchasing a sourdough starter from Cultures for Health (just $11.99). You can make your own, but the results can be a mix of success and failure. Beginning with a starter will assure greater success and speeds up the process tremendously. It takes one week to establish a lively active starter. Cultures for Health offers many different sourdough starters – from rye flour, to white flour, to the gluten free brown rice starter.
Wardeh at Gnowfglins offers a spectacular Sourdough eCourse that has been tremendously helpful in learning the process of sourdough…but the main benefit is the wealth of recipes she has included for simple sourdough delicacies – bread, English muffins, donuts, tortillas, cakes, etc. The Sourdough eCourse does offer all the practical steps for establishing your own sourdough starter as well.
I found success in feeding my starter every 12 hours or twice a day to get it established (morning and night). I used a glass quart size jar. As the jar would get full, I would scoop some out and place it down the disposal. This is important for good abundant yeast development. I worked on it for about two weeks (as I was out of town for part of this time and just wanted to get a good solid start) before sticking it in the fridge. It was nice and bubbly. At times I fed it 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and other times I fed it 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour. There are different recommendations for the feeding of your starter, but either way it worked just fine. It was flexible. If I missed a feeding, I would add more flour to water to sweeten it a bit. And you can use practically any assortment of flours – wheat, spelt, kamut, etc. to feed your starter.
How to Use Sourdough?
1. Once it was established, I placed it in the fridge and feed it once a week. I found Wardeh’s idea of doing a weekly baking time to be the easiest manner of continuing to nurture my starter but also provide some yummy simple pastries for our family.
2. I pull out my starter in the morning, give it a feeding (normally 1/2 cup each of water and flour or up to 3 times the amount of starter to make larger batches of baked goods), and then let it sit covered with a cloth napkin for the day. You will want to pour off the black liquid (also called the cooch) at the top of your starter for a less sour taste when you feed it.
3. In the early evening, after sitting for 8 hours, I mix up a batch of English muffin, and one or two other recipes. This week it was spice cake and crackers! I then cover up the individual mixtures with a cloth napkin, label them (so to avoid confusion), and let them sit at room temperature overnight.
4. In the morning, after 12 hours or so, I add the remaining ingredients and bake! I love it! Once I have made my goodies, I just put the remaining sourdough starter in the fridge (always preserving 1 cup for next time!). Sticking to a 12 hour souring time assures a less sour final product. In fact, with this routine, I found there was no sourness to worry about! Everything just tasted yummy and light.
I also love how you don’t have to make a batch of sourdough items every week. If you have a busy week, simply feed the starter (1/2 and 1/2), let it sit out for a few hours, and then put it back in the fridge until you have more energy to put it to use.
Beyond the health benefits, with the exception of sourdough bread, most sourdough recipes requires no additional rising! The overnight fermenting is all the rising you need. I made sourdough cinnamon rolls and I just rolled them out, layered on the fillings, rolled them back up and baked immediately. And your products expand as they bake, keeping them light, fluffy, and oh so yummy! Traditional whole wheat products will be more dense than white flour, but sourdough whole wheat products are a night and day difference.
The Sourdough eCourse also offers video tutorials, helpful hints, and twenty different recipes! Wardeh offers several different membership plan options to make the eCourse accessible for all budgets and time schedules.
If you are interested in starting a new healthy adventure, definitely check out sourdough and the wonderful helpful resources through the Sourdough eCourse!
To conclude, I wanted to share with you one of the easy recipes offered in this course: Sourdough English Muffins (pictured at the top of this post). This recipe is not only easy, but scrumptious! It is delicious toasted with butter and jam, and as a bun for salmon melts, hamburgers, or various sandwiches. I love how it can serve so many purposes. Erin, from Alaska, compiled this recipe and shares it on the Sourdough eCourse.
Erin’s Sourdough English Muffins
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter (thick or thin) – fed within the last 12 hours
- 1 cup liquid (milk, fermented dairy, coconut milk…) – I have used raw milk, kefir, and coconut milk with equal success!
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or any flour combination (and more if needed) – I found I had to use 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour consistently
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Combine your sourdough starter, liquid, and flour in a medium size mixing bowl. Gently combine until all ingredients are incorporated.
- If mixture is still significantly sticky, add more flour by 1/4 cup till you get a get a moist dough that combines together well into a ball. You will have good results whether it is more wet or dry. Both work well. The flour will absorb the liquids as it ferments, so less is more.
- Cover bowl with a cloth napkin or plate and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (More time will make them more sour in taste).
- After the souring process is complete, remove lid and add honey, salt, and baking soda, and kneed into the dough till well combined.
- Transfer to your counter-top, and cut the dough into eight equal balls. Dough may be wet and sticky, but it is fine.
- Turn on your stovetop grill to medium heat. In the meantime you can shape each ball into a flat muffin (about 1 inch tall and 3 inch wide). I prefer actually doing this on the grill top to avoid them sticking to the counter-top.
- Once the grill is heated, transfer balls to the grill and spread them out with the fingers into round flat English muffins. They will puff up significantly as they cook. You may have to adjust the temperature if they begin cooking too fast.
- Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the bottom is nicely brown and the sides are no longer sticky. Cool and serve!
There you have it…my sourdough routine and the yummy English muffins – a great recipe to start with!
Learn something new today, dear sister. Whatever it might be. This is a way that we beautifully reflect the creative nature of our Creator.