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?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How to Order One or All Ten of My Sourdough Starters

Due to health reasons I am no longer selling my starters. Thanks to everyone over the years who have bought them. 

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Chef Don's Sourdough Starter

My friend, Chef Don at, has shared his sourdough starter that he uses in all his own sourdough recipes. It is made from wild yeast found in Auburn, California. Of course his starter is good for any sourdough recipe but he specializes in no salt cooking and his sourdough recipes are different than your normal recipe. He substitutes the salt we normally use in baking with crushed vitamin C, vinegar, sugar and a little store bought yeast. This starter works best with Bread Flour.

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Quinn Hartley's
Kern County Sourdough Starter

I am on a mission to collect sourdough yeasts from many different regions of the world and Quinn Hartley's Kern County Sourdough starter is a terrific step towards that goal. It smells and tastes great and is made from yeast found on grapes grown in Kern County California. 

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Sierra Gold!
A New Starter From California's Foothills

Currently, Sierra Gold, is only available as part of the Big10 Sourdough Package. It comes from wine grapes grown in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada's. It's a medium sour starter and is terrific tasting.
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Alaska Sam's Sourdough Starter

Comes from my buddy, Sam, by way of Alaska. Medium Sour. According to Sam, this starter goes back to the Alaskan Gold Rush.
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Best Darn Old Alaskan Sourdough Starter

From another friend up in Alaska who prefers to remain nameless. This has the potential to be very sour when fed whole wheat flour. We're not sure how old this one is exactly but my friend has had it for over 30 years personally and his family had had it for far longer. It is one of my personal favorites.
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Babo's San Francisco Sourdough Starter

Named after my grandmother. Her real name was Bertha and at the turn of the Twentieth century she was a little Swiss German girl living in San Francisco at the time of the Big Quake. Back then the San Francisco Sourdough was not such a closely guarded secret as it is today. This is a very fickle starter and requires attention to detail. It requires proofing at a lower temperature and then a higher temp due to the dual nature of the starter.
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Parley's Pioneer Sourdough Starter

This one came across the plains with the early Mormon pioneers. Very rustic. Mildly Sour. This is another old family starter that has been around since the mid 1800's.
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Tara's Organic Natural Yeast

Made from organic Dark Rye flour. Perfect for all bread recipes where fast acting yeast is used. Rise times are about four hours. This is NOT a sourdough starter but is instead a yeast replacement. Makes great Whole Wheat Bread. Wheat bread recipe included.
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Valentina's Authentic San Francisco Sourdough Starter

I got this from a friend in the late 70's while living in San Francisco. It's more of a traditional Italian starter and not your typical San Francisco fare but it does make a terrific bread that does come close to the taste of original San Francisco without the hassle of Babo's.
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Wasatch Willy's
The Original Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter

Simply the best sourdough starter I have ever used. Made it myself from local wild yeasts. Absolutely delicious. Just sour enough. Tastes very similar to a good San Francisco Sourdough but it comes from the Great Salt Lake region of Utah. It is a good and lively natural Sourdough Yeast. This is my other favorite Sourdough Starter.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

UPDATE: Wasatch Willy's Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter

There is nothing quite like sourdough bread and I would like to introduce you to my latest sourdough starter, Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Starter. The flavor is somewhere between Valentina's and Alaska Sam's.

Update 7/22/2014 - When activating Wasatch Willy's Sourdough starter it smells exactly like Babo's San Francisco Starter. I have not tested Willy's under a microscope but the flavor is nearly identical. I can't call it a San Francisco Sourdough Starter because it's not from San Francisco such as Babo's or Valentina's. It was created from grapes grown in Syracuse, Utah which is on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Bread

1 Cup Wasatch Willy's Starter
3 Cups Room Temp Bottled Water
2 Teaspoons Salt
6-8 Cups Bread Flour

Mix the starter and water together for a minute, add the salt and then start adding the flour until the dough comes clean from the side of the mixing bowl. Let the mixer run for 5 minutes.

Place the dough into a large greased bowl and place in a cool spot for 12-24 hours. 

Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil and sprinkle with corn meal.

Form the dough into balls pulling from the sides and pinching at the bottom until the sides of the ball start to tear apart and place onto the baking sheet. Makes two medium or 4 small bowls. Let rise two hours.

Place your oven racks on the bottom two settings. Place a cast iron frying pan on the bottom rack. Pre-heat the oven to 450 F (230 C).  Boil 2 cups water and pour into the frying pan just before placing the bread in the oven. Place the bread in the oven and set your timer for 55 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400 F (205 C). Check the bread at the 45 minute mark. It should be just starting to turn brown. 

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack and wait at least 15 minutes before serving. The bread is still cooking internally.

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My Sourdough Starters
In early 2013 I started selling a San Francisco Sourdough Starter, Valentina's, which I obtained while in the US Army stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco in 1978. Since then I have extended my starters to an old family starter from San Francisco which I have named after my Grandmother whom I affectionately called, Babo. I also created a non-sourdough starter (Tara) for use in normal bread recipes and it works fantastically. I have two Alaskan Starters as well, Alaska Sam's and Best Damn Alaskan Sourdough Starter, both of which are good and sour. 

A friend gave me an old Mormon Pioneer Sourdough Starter which came across the plains in the 1800's which I call, Parley's. 

My favorite starter is named after me, Wasatch Willy. It's made from locally obtained wild yeasts and is a real crowd pleaser. Everyone who has tried it really likes it.

All orders include:
  • Two packets of dried starter. The one you order and one other at my discretion. Usually Alaska Sams or the other Alaskan starter. Limit one free starter per customer and does not include the Super 7 bundles.
  • Activation Instructions with recipes
  • Jar Label
New Packaging Front Label

New Packaging Reverse w/Instructions

Shipping Rates
All Prices include shipping. The US Post Office recently raised rates and so I have had to modify my prices slightly. I ship First Class mail. Orders are shipped in a #10 envelope. 

Where Do I ship to:

I will ship to anywhere in the United States or Canada. 

Questions: Call us at 801-784-8090 Monday - Friday 10am to 4pm Mountain Time.

To Order:
So as 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.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

San Francisco Sourdough Starter

A true San Francisco Sourdough Starter is unique because it contains two organisms that contribute to the unique flavor associated with San Francisco Sourdough. One organism thrives at a lower temperature and the other at a higher temp which means it requires a long fermentation at around 60-65 degrees F and then a rise at 80-85 degrees F for about two hours.

If you are feeling bold and daring you can try Babo's San Francisco Sourdough Starter otherwise any of my other starters will produce excellent results as well. My other two favorites are Wasatch Willy's and Best Damn Alaskan Sourdough starters. 
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I have seven starters in all at this time. You can try any two for $5 if you live in the US or $5.70 if you live in Canada. Or you can order all seven as so many do. 

A Comment From A Recent Customer

Hi Bill,

I just got started with your sourdough starter in June 2014.  I received two, and have only used one so far, the "Best Damn Alaskan" starter.  I'm having a lot of fun with it!  It took a few attempts of not so pretty loaves to get the knack of it (I think I was overproofing it so it wasn't getting much oven rise) but now I am getting taller loaves.  The toast is awesome--beautiful sourdough flavour!  I have this starter going in two jars, so I have a backup in case of a problem.  I also made sourdough pizza dough with it, which was delicious!

Attached please find some pics.  (The last picture is my best loaf yet, lol!) I have a batch going right now, will be baking bread tonight!  Can't wait... (7/14/2014)

Laurel Harrington
Brechin, ON  Canada

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Click to see the book that Laurel is using. This is the updated version.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Sourdough Starters Are Super Easy To Activate

There is a link at the bottom of the page for more info regarding my seven different starters and how to order them. I offer a Super 7 bundle pack at a nice discount and also a single order starter pack that includes any two starters of your choosing. You can also click here for more info as well.

March 5, 2015 - Activating one of my Sourdough Starters can be done one of several ways. There is this method (below) that works or the method that is now included when you order a starter package. Either one is ok.

All of the starters offered here are very robust and are super easy to activate. When you order one of my Sourdough starters you get a packet of dried starter granules, a jar label and instructions with recipes. Six of the seven starters are actual sourdough starters and one is a natural yeast starter that is not sour and is meant for making bread and rolls.
What You Will Need
  • When activating a Sourdough Starter you need a large wide-mouth jar such as a quart Mason jar or I like to use a re-purposed 40 ounce peanut butter jar because the lid is wider.
  • You also need something to stir the starter with and I like to use the blunt end of a chopstick. 
  • Bottled Water
Step One:
In the morning, place half a cup of lukewarm bottled water into your quart sized jar. Pour the packet of Mister Sourdough Starter into the jar. Swirl the starter around in the water and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Step Two:
Pour half a cup of flour into the jar and stir. Later that evening, before you go to bed, add another ½ cup flour and water and stir. Place a lid on the jar but do not tighten because it is best to allow the starter to breathe. Place in a warm location. In the oven with the light on and the door closed will work as long as you do not forget it is there. A counter in the kitchen will work just as well as long long as the temperature is not colder than 72F. 75-80F is ideal.

Step Three:
The next morning, dump out half of your starter and add a cup of flour and  3/4 cup water, stir. Loosely cover the jar and place back in a warm spot. Repeat this step on a daily basis until the natural yeasts in the starter are thriving. This can take 1-3 days. For a normal feeding once the starter is doubling I usually leave half a cup of starter in the jar and add 160 grams water and 160 grams flour and stir.

Scroll down for a description of each starter with PayPal buttons for ordering.
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New Packaging Example - Front

New Packaging - Reverse w/Instructions

To Order:
So as 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.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I've Been Feeling A Little Guilty of Late

It's been over a month since my last batch of sourdough bread and quite honestly I have been feeling a little guilty about it. I've been sidelined since falling on some black ice in February and hitting my head pretty hard which is the main reason for my tardiness. It is difficult for me to spend a lot of time at the computer working on my blog too which is frustrating in itself. Thank goodness I have this blog because it is one of the few things that helps me keep my sanity.

Well, today I started a batch of bread using the Best Damn Alaskan Sourdough Starter. It came out of the mixer a little after twelve noon and since I now take a lot of naps I will be baking bread most likely around midnight tight. During the winter I like to let the dough sit for up to 24 hours but since it summer, the basement is about five to ten degrees warmer than normal and the dough will turn to liquid mush if I wait that long. What I really need is a second fridge where I could let it sit. 

My basic bread recipe is one batch of starter, 3 cups water, some salt to taste (varies per persons needs) in this case I use a tablespoon and 9 cups white flour. I used my Bosch Universal Mixer to mix it all together and let it run with the dough hook for about ten minutes.

If you do not have an electric stand mixer I highly recommend a Danish Dough Hand Whisk. Check it out. If you are really strong and industrial you can do it all by hand by starting out in a large bowl until the dough is stiff and then turn it out onto your counter top until you have worked in all nine cups of flour. We used to make our homemade whole wheat bread this when we were younger.

I then place the dough (stiff and not gooey or sticking to the bowl or the center post) into a large bowl I have greased and I take it to the basement to sit for 12-16 hours. I then bring back upstairs, preheating the oven with my Travertine tiles and cast iron pan to 475F for about an hour. Meanwhile I form my loaves and place them on an upside down baking sheet that has been covered in cornmeal. I use my homemade lame to score the loaves as well. I ten cover them with a damp cloth and let rise for a couple hours or until I think they are at their peak. Then I boil some water and place it in the cast iron frying pan that is on my bottom rack then I place the bread in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the times goes off I reduce the temp to 400F and reset the timer to 30 minutes. When it goes off I may or may not decide to let the bread stay in the oven for a little while longer. I have backed my bread for 60 to 75 minutes to no ill effect other than a darker red crust.

One tool I used to use quite a bit was one of these Digital Meat Thermometers to check the internal temperature of my bread. If you are concerned about whether or not your bread is cooked enough or not then get one. Besides, it has many other handy uses too. 

We haven't been sitting still with the starter though because I have made several batches of pancakes. I hate to wash unused starter down the drain.

Sourdough has several uses and if you ask me it tastes even better when it's a day old and a little tougher. I love the crunchy crisp crust you get when the bread comes fresh from the oven. This is something you only get with steam and is why it is so important to have a pan in the oven when you preheat it.

One thing I have never made from sourdough are biscuits and this is something I intend to work on. 

So if you are wondering what you can do with sourdough here is a short list: Sourdough Pancakes, Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, Sourdough Hamburger Buns, Sourdough Bread Bowls and a whole lot more. I have done all of these and others in my blog.

My latest results.

Feeding My Starters
Just a brief note about feeding my starters. I used to feed them one for one. That is one cup flour to one cup water. I now feed them one cup flour to about 3/4 cup water at room temperature. Some folks weigh them one for one and that's fine too but for my method works just as well and takes less time. I use a large peanut butter jar because I like it better than a wide mouth Mason Jar. Large Peanut Butter jars are easier to dump the flour into without making a huge mess.

When I dump a batch of starter into my mixer I usually leave enough at the bottom of the jar that fills the slanted portion. It's about half a cup of starter not counting the starter stuck to the sides of the jar. I dump in the flour and the water and stir with a chopstick using the blunt end and scrape all around the jar from top to bottom and then loosely place the lid on the jar and no, the sourdough does not smell or taste like peanut butter. Be sure and clean it with hot soapy water. It is always good to have several of these on hand. That little blue line is where the starter is when fed before it rises nearly to the top of the jar.

Here are some images of the bread I have made.

I love the color and the structure sourdough provides.

Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls

A Whole Wheat Loaf made with Best Damn Alaskan. It was Extremely sour. 

Bread Bowls made with Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Starter

Wasatch Willy's Bread Bowls Baked on Travertine Tiles
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So as 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.