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.

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 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.


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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A New Easy Sourdough Hamburger Bun Recipe

Tomorrow we decided to have hamburgers for dinner and I decided to try a different recipe this time. I saw one recently posted online at Mother Earth News and this recipe is the inspiration.

You will get about 24-4" hamburger buns from this recipe.


  • 4 Cups Wasatch Willys Sourdough Starter fully active and stirred down before measuring
  • 1 Cube butter
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs, Beaten
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 7-8 Cups All Purpose Flour

Sourdough Hamburger Buns

In your mixer bowl combine the starter, softened butter, milk, beaten eggs, salt and sugar. Blend with your whisk attachment until smooth - like pancake batter. Replace the whisk with your dough hook and start to add the flour until the dough bunches up nicely and moves around the bowl. Run the mixer for about ten minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixer and let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes. 

Grease and sprinkle two baking sheets with corn meal.

Briefly turn on your oven for about 30 seconds at 350 and turn on the light. Turn off the oven but leave the light on. Boil a small pot of water.

Divide the dough in half. Using a rolling pin flatten the first half of it out to about 1/2" thickness and cut out with a 4" circle cutter. Place the cut out dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Repeat for the second half.

Place the baking sheets and the small pot of boiling water into the slightly warmed oven for about two hours to proof the buns.

After two hours remove the baking sheets and the pan of water. Turn on the oven to 375F and bake for about 18 minutes. Having a baking stone will help to brown the bottoms of the buns. I found my buns came out brown on top but pale on the bottom. 

If you so choose you can prepare a watered down egg wash before baking and sprink.e the buns with sesame seeds.

I used the egg wash on both batches of my buns. One was with seeds and one was plain.

For more info on my Sourdough Starters
click the More Info Here button above or click here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Making Sourdough Bread Is Not Rocket Science

I started this blog in early 2012 and I regularly post articles praising the ease of baking with sourdough. I am constantly giving loaves of bread to my friends and almost always they remark, “Oh wow! That takes a long time to make, right?” and I invariably reply, “No, not really.” So what I am saying is do not be intimidated. The actual time you spend making sourdough itself is not that much because the majority of the time is spent by the fermentation process.

Sourdough can be intimidating until you get to know it. It’s a mind game really. There’s the feeding of the Starter, the initial making of the dough, the fermentation process that can take twelve or more hours and then the rise time. 

If you have a recipe that calls for yeast you should run away from it as fast as you can. Sourdough, if the starter is a good one, does not need added yeast. The flavor of the sourdough comes from the fermentation process and adding yeast robs it of that process, hence robbing it of the flavor as well.

Sourdough bread is really a simple recipe. Essentially it consists of the starter, quality water, salt and flour. That’s it.   I bake my bread in round loaves because they are the easiest for me to form and they fit in the oven better and I bake them on travertine tiles cut to fit on my oven rack. Not having a pizza peel I use a large steel spatula and place my loaves on aluminum foil coated in cooking spray and dusted with corn meal.

Here is my recipe. I usually make it in my Bosch mixer rather than by hand these days but when I was younger I would not shy from from doing it by hand.

Sourdough Bread Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Wasatch Willys Sourdough Starter Fed and bubbly
  • 3 Cups Spring Water room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8-9 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
In your mixer bowl combine the active and bubbly starter, bottled spring water and salt. Mix until blended using the dough hook. Add the flour until the dough no longer clings to the sides of the bowl and springs back to the touch. Run the mixer for another ten minutes. 

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a cool spot for at least twelve hours. I use my basement. In the summertime my basement is about 70 degrees and twelve hours seems to work perfectly but in the winter it’s closer to 60 and sixteen to eighteen hours is the average fermentation time.

Once the dough has fully risen to the top of the bowl and the fermentation time is up, remove it from the bowl and divide it into loaves. I use a digital scale to measure the dough into four equal parts. 

Form the dough into a ball and flatten it on your prepared surface. Then start grabbing the edges and pull it to the center forming a ball until the skin is nice and tight. Be careful not to pull too much or the skin of the dough will start to rip. Place the ball gathered side down onto a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Allow enough space for the loaves to raise but not touch each other. 

Score them with a sharp knife or lame in a cross pattern and cover with a damp cloth on top of the stove.

Now place your oven racks on the bottom two slots. If you have a small cast iron frying pan place this on the bottom rack. Set your oven to 475. If you have travertine tiles in the oven I suggest rather than using a baking sheet, cut aluminum foil into squares and use that instead. That way you can place the loaves directly onto the tiles and your bread will bake more evenly with a nice browning on the bottom.

If your kitchen is warm, it should only take an hour and a half for the bread to raise enough to pop in the oven. Before you do, however, boil two cups of water first. 

Place the loaves in the oven. Wearing an oven mitt, pour the boiling water into the pan on the bottom rack and slide it to the middle of the oven with a spatula. Close the oven door.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Bake about 60 minutes. I have found my bread comes out perfectly with a nice thick reddish crust. I do not bother with either an egg or corn starch wash because I like my crust natural and crunchy.

Place the loaves on a cooling rack and allow at least twenty minutes to cool before slicing into them. 

Of the starters I sell on my blog, my favorites are my Wasatch Willy’s and the Best Darn Old Alaskan. Both are unique and I really enjoy the flavor they provide. 

Variation: One of the variations I like to do is add Kale to the Best Darn Old Alaskan. I go out to the garden and grab a handful and put it in the blender with the starter and some of the water until liquefied and then proceed with my standard bread recipe. The starter feeds off the Kale and gives it a Turbo Boost making it very flavorful with a green tinge.

My Starter

Baking on Travertine

A Lovely Loaf

Look At That Slice!

The Kale Option

Kale Blended

Kale Added

Kale Sourdough Bread Dough

For more info on my Sourdough Starters
click the More Info Here button above or click here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sourdough Carrot Cake Sublime with Cream Cheese Frosting

There was a time I would never have imagined making a cake with sourdough starter and now, after making this Carrot Cake and the Sourdough Chocolate Cake, I don't think I will ever do it any other way. This cake is delicious! I encourage you to try it and to do it with my Wasatch Willys Sourdough Starter which is an Original Great Salt Lake product.

This is an easy cake to make. I suggest preparing your cake pans in advance and pre-heating your oven to 350°F.

The Cake - Part One
1-1/2 Cups Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Wasatch Willy Sourdough Starter Unfed from the Fridge
2 Large Farm Fresh Eggs
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple - Drained
2 Cups Grated Carrots
1/3 Cup Pecans - Chopped
1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/3 Cup Craisins or Raisins
2 teaspoons Real Vanilla

The Cake - Part Two
2 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Cream Cheese Frosting
1, 8-ounce Package Cream Cheese - Room Temp
1 stick Butter (1/2 Cup)
1 teaspoon real Vanilla
3-5 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
Scant Buttermilk if needed

Part One: In your mixer bowl, combine the oil and sugar and the un-fed Wasatch Willy starter you pulled from the fridge and mix until just blended. Mix in the farm fresh eggs, one at a time (beat well after adding each egg). Add in the pineapple, carrots, pecans, coconut, dried cranberries/raisins and vanilla and mix until blended.

Part Two: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda, Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl until just combined.

Spoon the batter into two greased and floured 9” round pans. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 40-50 minutes, or until the cake tests done. Toothpick method: poke the center of the cake and if it comes out clean it is done. 

Five minutes after removing from the oven, remove from the pans and allow the cake to completely cool on a rack before frosting.

Frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar gradually until all is added and blended well. Add some buttermilk until the frosting is the desired consistency.

To frost the cake I leveled the top of one of the layers and placed it on the cake holder. Then I put a layer of frosting in the middle and placed on the top layer. I will admit I am not very good at frosting a cake so I asked my wife, Annette, if she would please finish frosting it for me. I owe her big time! I love my wife, she's the best and we've been happily married since 1979. She's as beautiful today as the day I married her.

How to Order One of My Sourdough Starters: For a description of all seven of my starters please go to my ORDER page by clicking HERE. There you can order all 7 starters for one low price or order one single starter which now includes a second FREE starter of your choice. My contact info is there as well if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sourdough Chocolate Cake Divine

There is more to sourdough than bread and this Chocolate cake recipe is a prime example of what you can do with sourdough. The beauty of it is it does not taste really like sourdough thanks to the cocoa but the sourdough does enhance the flavor and this is a very moist cake as well. If you like chocolate cake you will love this recipe. Try it, you will not be sorry. See the order link below on the right side column to order one of my sourdough starters.

The Cake
1 Cup Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Starter (Fed and bubbly)
1 Cup Milk
2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons real Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1/4 Cup Hershey's Cocoa
2 Large Eggs, farm fresh

The Frosting
6 Cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/3 Cup Stephen's Cherry Chocolate Powder
1/3 Cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 Tablespoon Hot Water

Drizzle for the Sizzle
1/3 Cup Dark or Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 Tablespoon Corn Syrup

Preheat your oven to 350F.

The Fresh Egg Provider

The Cake
In your mixer bowl, combine the Wasatch Willy live and active starter, milk and flour. Mix until just combined. Cover and rest for 2-3 hours. Don’t worry if it is not bubbling but it should have doubled in size. 

In another bowl beat together the sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda and cocoa. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after adding each one. In the picture lower left I show three eggs. This is because they are medium-sized and from one of my Leghorn hens. They are among her first eggs ever layed.

Gently fold the two bowls into one until the combined mixture is smooth and immediately pour into two greased and floured 9” pans. Tap out the bubbles quickly and place the pans immediately in the oven.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake tests done. My oven took exactly 30 minutes. I set it to 25 and tested. Toothpick method: poke the center of the cake and if it comes out clean it is done.  After removing from the oven, remove from the pans and allow the cake to completely cool on a rack before frosting.  

FROSTING: Sift the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder, Stephens Gourmet Hot Cocoa Cherry Chocolate powder, add the butter and buttermilk. Mix well. Add hot water a few drops at time until frosting is of the consistency you prefer. Frost the cake when cool.

You can try other frostings as well, whichever you prefer the most, the possibilities are endless.

Drizzle: Combine the Drizzle ingredients in a large coffee mug. Microwave until the chips soften and then stir until smooth. Drizzle or drip over the icing for a creative effect! I find that it is helpful to squirt the drizzle onto the cake otherwise you get blobs.

Hint: If you use the Cherry Cocoa from Stephen's as I did, prepare the cocoa in a bowl by itself and add 1 Tablespoon boiling water and stir. I find not doing that leaves the frosting a little grainy.

Top with a cherry and enjoy! If only I had thought of that the other day at the store....

To Order My Starters:
Go to my ORDER page and you can see a description of all my starters. You can also get there by clicking here. Contact info is also listed on the order page as well.

Special Thanks: I want to thank my daughter, Jennifer, for all her help. Without it this recipe and blogpost would not be possible.

Other Thoughts: My grand daughter, who normally does not like sourdough, likes this recipe and was blown away after sampling it because I sort of forgot to mention the sourdough part when she was sampling it.

8/5/2014 My daughter made this for my birthday and used the Cream Cheese Frosting from the Carrot Cake recipe. It was pretty darn good. So much for weight loss and all. Well, birthdays only come once a year! Right?