Monday, February 25, 2013

I Love Sourdough!

Valentina's San Francisco Sourdough Starter - I picked this up in San Francisco in the late 70's while in the US Army stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. I got it from a lovely lady named, Valentina, who had a small shop near Fisherman's Wharf. Her bread was the best.

Parley's Pioneer Sourdough Starter - Used by the Mormon Pioneers. Dates to around 1850. I have had this starter for about thirty years and used it quite a bit making sourdough pancakes for my kids when they were younger.


Tara's Sourdough Starter - This is a new starter but has a nice sour taste. Perfect for breads where you do not want a strong sourdough taste. Tara's sour taste is a milder one even after resting for sixteen hours. For a less sour taste, when using Tara your dough only needs to rest until double in size. About 4-6 hours in a warm kitchen.

NEW! Alaska Sam's Sourdough Starter. Thanks to my old friend up in Alaska I can offer you his family's sourdough starter. He tells me it's been in his family for generations. 

The trick to the sour taste in sourdough breads is the amount of time you allow the dough to rest.

The other day I made some bread bowls and the flavor and texture of the bread is wonderful. If you like a reserved sour taste then Parley's is the one for you. If you want a little more of a sour taste then Valentina's is the smart choice. The best bet is to get all of them and try for yourself.

Preparation for Making Sourdough Bread - Don't let sourdough psych you out. It is not hard to make. It's actually quite easy. You make your dough on Monday and bake it on Tuesday. If you have a decent electric mixer it is easy to make bread. I just finished preparing a batch of bread for tomorrow using Tara's. I let it sit covered in a cool part of the house (not the refrigerator) covered for 12-14 hours. Then I work about 1/2 cup of flour into the dough ball and shape and let rise for a couple hours. My typical batch of bread bakes in 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.

What You Get: Each starter comes in a sealed packet containing enough dried starter to create a batch of starter. You will also receive instructions on how to activate your stater plus some recipes to get you started. 

If for some reason you do not want to maintain a live starter you can just reorder starter as needed.

WARNING! DO NOT USE TAP WATER! When dealing with a new sourdough starter it is important to not use tap water because it will kill or stunt the growth of your starter. I only use bottled Spring Water I purchase at Walmart in gallon jugs for 88 cents each. You can use filtered water but only after the starter is established. Remember: Tap water is NASTY!

Helpful Hints: 

Only use Unbleached flour. For the most part I use white flour from Costco and it works well. You can also use whole wheat flour if you wish. 

To mix my starters I use these inexpensive bamboo Chopsticks using the square end to stir. They work great. 

For jars I now use 40 ounce Jiff Peanut Butter containers. I have found my starters are too robust for a quart sized wide mouth jar.

The Mixer Counts: A good dependable mixer should be in every kitchen where bread is made and the mixer I recommend is the Bosch Universal Plus. It may seem different if you are used to a Kitchenaid but the center-shaft design just works the best and best of all it is super easy to clean. I have the dough just rolls around the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer. In the Bosch it actually gets a workout.

Sourdough Pancakes made with Valentina's.

Another shot of sourdough pancakes.
Valentina's San Francisco Sourdough Bread.
Valentina's San Francisco Sourdough Bread with Digital Thermometer.
Bread Bowl! Delicious!
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To simplify the updating process of my blog entries I have created a single ORDER page you can go to by clicking here. As the blog slowly grows in size (a few posts each month) it becomes an arduous labor updating each and every one of them so hopefully this will make the pages easier to peruse and more enjoyable. Thank you.