Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Always Make a Backup!

I have been dealing with computers since before the first IBM PC was introduced and one thing I cannot stress enough is, ALWAYS KEEP A BACKUP! Someday that hard drive is going to quit working and today we have access to the Cloud via Google Drive, DropBox and others. But when it comes to Sourdough we have to rely on simpler methods to make a back up.

Let's face it, things happen. Right? 

What are some of those things? Bugs, heat, feeding and so much more can affect our starters which is why I always keep a small jar of starter in the fridge. It does not take much to reactivate a starter that's been stored in the fridge and my experience tells me a starter will last almost forever in the fridge.

Here is how you do it.  When you feed your starter and you normally dump it down the drain instead pour it into a small clean canning jar and tightly close it up. Use a canning jar with appropriate lid. Fluid will separate but don't worry about the fluid. 

To activate a starter from the fridge, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of cold starter and place it in a quart canning jar. Add 1 cup flour and (room temp) 3/4 cup spring water. Stir it up. Let it sit overnight and dump out half. Feed it another cup of flour and 3/4 cup water. Let it sit again. It does not hurt to feed it every twelve hours when reactivating your starter. Most starters will be very active in less than 36 hours.

Are you old enough to remember yeast cakes? A small package of yeast stored in a foil wrapping? When starter has been stored in the fridge for a while it has that consistency. Shows my age I guess.

All my starters (except two) use normal unbleached white flour. I do not use bread flour because I find my breads do better without the added wheat gluten. The exception to this rule is Chef Don's Megaheart Starter. He created his starter from grapes grown in the California foothills of Auburn, California and he used bread flour. I have tried to wean his starter off of bread flour to no avail. The other starter does is based on an Organic Dark Rye flour (Tara's). 

So remember! Keep a back up in the fridge, no matter what. I use these flat canning jars because I can stack them three to four high on the shelf in the fridge.

How To Order My Sourdough Starters

Monday, January 26, 2015

Barb Geiger Makes A no-KNEAD Bread

How to order one of my starters - CLICK Here

Customer Barb Geiger commented:

Hi!

My first loaf was horrible – I added gluten to make up for the whole wheat and my dough was too wet to handle. It tasted fine and it had a lot of holes, but the crumb was more of an epoxy than anything else. I was trying to make no knead sourdough but my traditional no knead recipe needed some modifications. My second loaf was crackly and perfect, but I gave it away. But my third loaf was absolutely perfect and completely no knead and I didn’t have to share it with anyone. The tang was there in the back of the mouth and the crust and crumb were perfect. It’s even 30% wholewheat and you’d never know it for the taste and the softness and the crust is the best part of all.

I’ve made my own starter before, but nothing with this sourness. Thank you so much! I’ve been using the discard to make sourdough waffles on a silicone waffle pan nearly every morning which have been amazing, but I have three more pounds of sourdough bread dough in the fridge that just need to be formed into loafs and baked off. This is amazing, thank you!


I asked her to share her method and recipe.

Absolutely! It’s not mine, I found the technique on the net, but I had to make some adjustments. It seems complicated, but there’s a lot of hurry up and wait in this. Total work time is about 10-15 minutes and this dough lasts in a container in the fridge (with a hole in it) for up to two weeks, and the longer it sits, the better it is. It’s a variation of the Jim Leahy version of no knead bread and the artisan bread in 5 minutes technique by making more than just a pound at a time. I’ve used the 1-2-3 sourdough by Flo Makanai to use a sourdough starter instead of the ¼ tsp yeast per pound or so of flour. My addition is not shaping the dough at all. Using the frying pan and parchment paper technique was taken from artisanbreadbystev from youtube. I’ve only stood on the shoulders of giants and combined all their methods. Lots of steps but very little actual work. Maybe 15 minutes or so of you having to do something for the overnight process. Flour does its own thing, and the longer you let it sit, the yummier it gets. Everything in the supermarket uses chemicals to replace time, and that time is going to pass whether you have bread dough on the mantle or not.

It’s based on the 1-2-3 method, so:
one part of sourdough starter
2 parts dechlorinated water (I used a pitcher of water that’s been sitting on the counter for 3-4 hours and if I run out of that, bottled water)
3 parts flour (This was 50 ounces of white, 10 ounces of whole wheat)
Then the flavor additives:
1 loaf uses about a pound of flour, so for every pound of flour I try to use
1 ½ tsp of salt
2 tbs of honey
(If you’re using whole wheat, you can throw in a tsp of gluten. Totally optional)

Step 1: test your starter. If it produces enough CO2 to float in a cup of water, you’re good to go. If it can’t, add add 1/8th tsp yeast, jik per pound of flou. Early starters may need it, advanced starters will not.

Step 2: Feed your starter. I read somewhere the thicker your starter, the more sour the dough. I like feeding it 2 parts flour to 1 part water. This is an add some to some recipe. Wait 3-4 hours until it’s really bubbly and ready to go. The thicker the starter, the more sour it’s going to taste. Weigh your starter. This is your official part.

Step 3: Add twice the weight of your starter in declorinated water and your salt, sugar and yeast (but only if you have to. This recipe relies on trust in the process)

Step 4: Add three times the weight of your starter in whatever kind of flour you need. Most of it should be white bread flour. Try keeping it 80% white, 20% whatever, but add a tsp of gluten if you have it. If you don’t, don’t worry, your bread flour has lots of protein in it to carry the whatevers to bread perfection

Step 5: Mix in your flour. You’re going to have two different reactions to the mix: Oops! This is going to be soup, then 30 seconds later you’re going to think it’s going to be way too dry. If you have a Danish wire whisk, use it. We’ve been using an oatmeal spurtle. Back of wooden spoons work, too. Depending on how wet your starter is, you might need to add another ½- ¾ of a cup of water, but don’t worry if it’s terribly shaggy. That’s good. If it’s too runny, you’re going to get an epoxy hockey puck at the end result. The flour should be mixed up and you could probably add that last bit of water just to get the dry flour off the bottom, but don’t worry. This will work.

Other than feeding the starter, steps 2-5 should take less than five minutes. Cover your beast, name it something kindly, and put it somewhere warm. We keep ours on the mantle in a big bowl with a plate on top of it and a straw to make sure Herman can breathe. See attached bread dalek photo. I’ve since switched to a Tupperware with a whole in it.

Let it sit in the warm spot for 12 hours or overnight. I live in Canada and I have unheated an unheated boot room, so when it’s cold in the winter time, I put Herman outside in his Tupperware container once he’s been sitting out. You can leave him at room temperature for 18-24 hours, but that worries me. Sourdough is specifically meant to be kept at room temperature for ever, but any time you’re dealing with an agricultural ingredient, food safety should be #1.

Step 6: Take out a bread size lump. A lot of people suggest folding or rolling or pinching to make him be a better bread shaped thing, but I degas him in the Tupperware, put the piece of parchment paper down on a non-stick frying pan, and stretch him out as far as he can go and the dump him in the 10” skillet. I dust him with more flour, cover him with another parchment paper, and wait 3 hours with the bread dough, now named Herman Jr. on the mantle. If he’s not been chilled at all, you only need an hour proof or so. To the point where you poke him and he doesn’t get huffy and push that dough right back out at you.

Step 7: After Herman Jr. Has been waiting three hours and has formed a nice dry crust around him, I heat up my enamel cast iron pot. I’ve tried a 3 quart that fits him perfectly and a 5 quart which seems too big, and he does way better in the too big pot. Heat the oven and the pot for 30 full minutes @ 500 degrees. I keep a pizza stone in the oven to keep the oven hot.

Step 8: When the oven’s ready, slash Herman open with something (I uses scissors…usually, in the photo he’s un slashed. Slashing the loaf gives oven spring more of a chance, but he turned out perfect as was). Then open the door, gather up the edges of the parchment paper Herman Jr’s been resting on, drop him in the cast iron pot gently, cover and bake for 30 minutes. I’ve kept the oven @ 500 and at 450 and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Step 8: After 30 minutes, remove the lid and the parchment paper from under Herman, turn oven down to 350 degrees, and bake 10-20 minutes. 10 minutes if he’s a smaller loaf, 15 if he’s bigger, 20 if he’s huge. The darker he is, the better he crust. If it goes a very dark brown, don’t worry, he’ll taste amazing. At home chefs don’t let things brown as much as professional kitchens do, and brown is where the flavour is)

Step 9: THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Wait for Herman to cool ALL THE WAY DOWN before slicing. I know hot buttered bread is engrained in our DNA, but the starch in Herman is still in a gel-like state. Popcorn starch goes from a gel to a sold in milliseconds. Bread starch takes longer. If you absolutely need to have that fresh from the oven scorching hot melted butter experience, make buns instead so you’re only sacrificing one to the gummy-gods, not your whole effort.

I know this seems like a lot of steps, but most of it is hurry up and wait. Feed your starter, wait, add water, honey, salt, and mixing in the flour is about five minutes of work, and that’s the hardest part. The bread should be cooked by the pound. The cooking seems complicated, but you get the hang of it. Take about a pound of your dough, let it rise a second time in a warm place. Preheat oven + pot with a lid, slash bread, put bread in pot, wait 30 minutes, uncover and take paper away, bake 10-15 minutes, rest it. It’s about 10 minutes total time, you can do it on a Saturday/Sunday then have bread dough in the fridge for the next two weeks.

It’s amazing what you can do when the dough’s just waiting for you to use it. You’ll never order pizza again when you can have the most amazing sourdough crust on your table in under an hour, 40 minutes of which is allowing the stretched dough to rise and 10 minutes of that is cooking. Real Italian pizza is just bread dough and cheese, and when you taste this, you’ll understand why it doesn’t need anything else. This is simple enough to let the kids shape the dough after school and have it ready for you to cook when you get home. Teenagers can put the pot and the lid in the oven and turn it on to high, but I really suggest the adult be the one to actually gather up the parchment paper and put hot things in hot places.


How to order one of my starters - CLICK Here

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How Long Does It Take to Get My Order? and Biscuits!

For those of you in Canada, in case you are wondering how long it takes to get your order, here is a note I received yesterday from Barb in Lethbridge Alberta  Canada. Her order was shipped on the 29th of December and she received it on 1/12/2015. Her order was for all ten of my starters. In all it took 14 days. 

From Barb on 12/27/2014
"I’ve been looking for a sourdough seller for years! I didn’t realize you could ship it across the border. I was so happy to find you!..."

From Barb on 1/12/2014

Hi, Bill!

Your package arrived today! I’ve never been so excited to receive a powdered substance in the mail before! Your packaging so well done! Also, I realize now every sentence but this one ended with an exclamation point and I’m usually a lot more reserved with my punctuation. This is going to give me so much enjoyment. Thanks so much!

Barb
Lethbridge Alberta

How to Order one of my sourdough starters.

Biscuits
If you like biscuits and sourdough you will love my Sourdough Biscuits. Pre-Heat to 375F/190C

Ingredients
2 Cups fully active Sourdough Starter
1-2 Cups Flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

You need an active and bubbly starter. Any of my sourdough starters will do. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Stir until you have a soft dough formed. The amount of flour used depends on the consistency of the sourdough starter.

Knead the dough briefly on a floured surface. Fprm it into a square about ½ inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Baking Your Biscuits: Place in your pre-heated oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Brush the tops with melted butter if desired. Serve away!

Sourdough Biscuits

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Sourdough Starters Make a Terrific Gift

My Order Page is HERE

I have sold a lot of sourdough starters over the last two years and have not yet had an unhappy customer. Admittedly, sourdough may not seem like it is for everyone. For example, if you live in a hot climate like a couple of my customers in Costa Rica, it is almost impossible to work with due to the heat. Other areas of the US it works best in winter, especially for those of you down south. This may be why over fifty percent of my sales are to folks in Canada.

Currently I have ten starters in all with one of them being a non-sour starter meant for basic bread baking. All of the starters are professionally packaged and come with two sets of instructions (On the back label of the packet and included with the recipes).

There are many different ways to use sourdough as the recipes on my blog and those included with the instructions can attest to. There are also many recipes available by simply doing a Google search. One of those recipes, HERE , was recently recommended by customer John Combs.


Try just one starter for only $4 ($4.70 for Canadians - postage costs more). You cannot go wrong. If you need help making up your mind try my very own Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Starter and then go from there. You will not be sorry or sad you did. I guarantee it. My Order Page is HERE

Anyway, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Bill Karoly
aka Wasatch Willy

Friday, November 14, 2014

Three New Starters and New Buying Options

Three New Starters!
I have added three new starters:

Sierra Gold - From California Wine Country
Quinn Hartley's Kern County Sourdough Starter
Chef Don's Megaheart Sourdough Starter


New Purchasing Options!
I have also added new purchasing options. You can now buy just one, any two, any four or all ten starters.

11-17-2014
There was a problem with the four pack ordering for Canadian customers not working but it is now fixed.

Order Here

Recent Loaves Using Quinn Hartley's

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three New Sourdough Starters

I now have three new sourdough starters. All are from California. They are:

Sierra Gold 
Made from wine grapes from a vineyard southeast of Sacramento, California in the the Sierra Foothills. Has a Mild sour taste and gives a lively rise to any sourdough recipe.

Chef Don's Megaheart.com Sourdough Starter
This is from grapes grown near Auburn, California. I would call it a medium sour and it too has a good lively rise action. I recently made pancakes with this starter and they were delicious.

Quinn Hartley's Kern County Sourdough Starter
The south central San Joaquin Valley is home to some of the largest table grape growers in North America. Quinn Hartley's sourdough starter comes from some of these grapes grown up against the Sierra Foothills. It has a nice sour smell and taste and is very active.

These starters have now been added to the Order Page.

Enjoy. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Sourdough Method is Different - It's Not A Wet Process

My style of making sourdough is different than what some might think of when they envision a loaf of sourdough. I would love to make sourdough the wet method way but it requires space in the fridge and frankly that is something we just do not have right now so instead I do it the dense loaf method. For me it works.

If you want the large holes throughout your loaves then you will need to go that route. My starters will work just fine for either method because many of my customers are doing just that. 


Wasatch Willy's Sourdough - A Fresh Loaf

The only thing missing is the most wonderful sourdough smell. But for that you can order your own starter and try it for yourself. I suggest ordering my Wasatch Willy's Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter and Best Darn Old Alaskan Sourdough Starter. It is only $5 for the two in the USA or $5.70 in Canada. When you order you get recipes and activation instructions. 

When making bread with my sourdough starters do not use bread flour. Use unbleached all purpose white flour only. You can also use wheat flour as well. Keep in mind wheat flour intensifies the sourness of the bread and you may want to shorten the fermentation period of the dough. White flour fermentation is normally about 12 hours between 65-70 degrees F.