Monday, May 10, 2010

Sourdough Success!

Several weeks ago, I started experimenting with sourdough starter and recipes.  It's been an interesting challenge that I have actually enjoyed.  I love to learn new things and this was definately new for me!

I did have success making my own starter.  It wasn't hard, it just took a while (a week) so you have to be patient.  The Prairie Mom blog has turned out to be invaluable for this process.  I used it for the starter and had more success with her recipes than anyone else's I found.

Initially, after my first batch of starter, I made a recipe from a YouTube video I discovered.  I actually posted it here several weeks ago.  I ended up with two loaves of what I thought resembled bricks more than the bread I was expecting.  And, they were SERIOUSLY sour tasting.  Thinking I had done something wrong, I tried to keep the starter going so I could give it another try.  However, instead of putting the starter in the fridge, I covered it and put it on top of the fridge so it would be out of the way.  (I swear that's what I thought I was supposed to do since I wasn't going to wait that long to make more bread...) That was Mistake #1.  It molded and had to be thrown out.

Starter making had to begin again....another week of waiting.   During that week, I found Prairie Mom - thank God!  I used her method of taking care of the starter as well as her recipe for Yeasted Sourdough Bread.  Since the first bread I made was REALLY sour (the boys wouldn't even it covered with honey), I thought it would be a good one to try.  I made it twice, first the bread pictured below then the rolls, which are pictured above, and they were a huge hit!  Jackson was thrilled and has even told lots of his friends how his mommy makes the best bread ever!  He's been waiting patiently for me to make more...Yea!

After the bread, I also made homemade tortillas from the starter, which have also been well received by the critics of the house.  They love flour tortillas, but I didn't know what to use instead of buying them at the store until I found this recipe.  I feel great that they are getting to eat the things they want and are used to having - but they are healthy and actually good for them instead of being filled with empty calories and a bunch of chemicals/preservatives/additives that are actually harmful.  We've been eating them for lunch rolled up with PB&, of course. ;)

I will, no doubt, keep making tortillas and the Yeasted Sourdough recipe - they work really great for us.  However, since this process has begun, I have also realized that the first bread I made (which I thought was way too sour and way to heavy) was actually not a mistake.  About a week ago, I attended a Weston A Price meeting where everyone brought food to share.  There were a couple loaves of bread there - and they were almost exactly like the first I made that got thrown out.  Theirs was every bit as heavy as mine.  So....if you are venturing into this realm of breadmaking, just know that the starter is NOT going to give you bread that you are expecting if you are using whole wheat, rye, or spelt flour.  Don't freak out when your bricks come out of the oven!

If you aren't familiar with traditional food prep, the reason that sourdough is said to be more healthy than yeasted breads, is because of the fermentation process.  There are enzymes and good bacteria in the starter  that are actually beneficial to the "flora" in your gut.  Also, the process of fermenting and giving bread a long rising time, gives the phytic acid in the grain time to break down.  Phytic acid is part of  grains that inhibit the nutrients being processed by your body.  Grains (seeds) were created to propagate new plants, not to be digested as nutrients.  Soaking/fermenting breaks the acid down and makes the grain easier to digest.

Eventually, I want to get to a place that I am baking bread and other sourdough/soaked baked goods only once a month.  I think I can do it, although I'm sure it will be a process just like everything else.  I will also start to switch over to spelt flour from organic whole wheat.  And, eventually....I'd like to have a grain mill so that I can make my own sprouted flour.....but for now, I think I've made good progress.  No more buying the white/brown "fluff" at the grocery store.

In a pinch, I have found a sprouted sourdough bread at the health food store to use when I don't have time to bake.  I'll be leaving a loaf of it for Doug & the kids while I'm gone.

If you try your own starter or have recipes to share - leave a comment!

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