Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Return of Wasatch Willy Sourdough Starter

May 21st, 2020

The Return of Wasatch Willy Sourdough Starter

I just recently decided to continue selling my signature sourdough starter, Wasatch Willy. I've been absent for awhile because of a car accident I was in in 2018 but I'm doing better now.

In order to keep things simple I will only be selling the one starter.

Cost is $10 to USA or Canada and the order page is updated. Shipped in a #10 envelope First Class Mail.

Included in the order are activation instructions along with recipes to get you started. The recipes are for bread, pancakes, biscuits and two cake recipes. 

To order please click the link below, How To Order.

How To Order

A Note About Activating A Starter

You can store a starter dried or in the fridge. Either method will keep a starter indefinitely.

When I send out a starter it is in a dried form and activation is easy but patience may be required.

To activate a dried or refrigerated starter I usually add either the dried packet or a small spoonful of refrigerated starter to a wide mouth quart Mason jar. I add one cup of room temperature Spring Water that I buy by the gallon at a grocery store. Then I stir for a few minutes before adding one cup of Unbleached Enriched Flour and stirring it together loosely covering with a lid. Let the starter breathe. I use a stainless steel knife and then let the mixture site overnight before dumping out half and adding back in one cup flour and 2/3 cup spring water stirring it up and lightly covering. I use a large clean peanut butter jar.

Feed morning and just before bed until it doubles. This can take 3-7 days. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Just Make A Batch of Sourdough Bread!

I am calling this post, Just Make a Batch of Sourdough Bread, because sometimes you need a little encouragement. We all need it sometimes.

I have been running low on some granules of Valentina's and Babo's San Francisco Sourdough Starter. My last post was of a batch of bread using Valentina's because I reactivated her and once ready spread the starter on a large plastic tray to dry and since Valentina's was now active I also made a couple of batches of bread and made pancakes too a few times.

Next I activated a batch of Babo's. In fact, right now I have four loaves baking in the oven and it smells oh so good. 

Valentina's and Babo's both come from San Francisco but they are different. Babo's needs a little more care after making the dough. I let the dough rest for twelve to fourteen hours in a cool environment of about 60-65 degrees F before dividing into loaves. I then let the loaves sit at 80 to 85F for a couple more hours before placing in the oven.

I use the same basic recipe for all of my sourdough starters:

1 Batch of Starter doubled in size 
3 Cups room temp water
1 to 2 Tablespoons Salt*
8 or 9 Cups Unbleached Flour

I combine all the ingredients in my Bosch mixer and let the machine run for ten minutes after the last of the flour is added. Pour 90 percent of the starter into the mixing bowl. You only need a little starter left in the jar when feeding it. I am not of the school that says to only use half. In my opinion that is ridiculous and can lead to weak starters. By using all but some scraps in the jar you are promoting healthy vibrant sourdough starters.

Then I remove the dough and place in a large plastic Tupperware bowl that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Then I place the lid on top but not sealing it and let the dough rise overnight. The next day I divide the dough into 4 or 5 round loaves and place on a tray that has been lightly oiled and sprinkled with a little corn flour. 

In my oven I have a Travertine tile from Lowes that I pre-heat to 450F. I also have a small cast iron frying pan that I pour in 2 cups of boiling water. Wear large oven mitts for this because you may burn yourself at this stage. Always be careful. 

I either transfer the loaves to the travertine directly or I just lay the tray I am using on top of the stone, add the boiling water and then close the door and reduce the temperature to 400.

Making your own homemade sourdough bread is very rewarding. If you would like to order one or all of my starters you can click here.

* Use of Salt for those on a salt restricted diet. Check out Chef Don's site for his sourdough recipes.

Pictures of today's batch of bread are coming.

Babo's SF Starter
35 Minutes in the Oven so far

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Restoring A Sourdough Starter From Long Term Refrigeration

Restoring A Sourdough Starter From Long Term Refrigeration

I like to store my sourdough starters in the fridge and I tend to do it long-term without feeding. Whenever I am ready to reactivate a sourdough starter I take it out of the fridge, stir the liquid on top back into the starter and scoop out a small spoonful. I then drop it into a jar and add one cup all purpose white flour and three quarters cup water which is about 70 degrees F. It will feel just barely cool to the touch. Then I stir it all together and loosely cover my jar and then place it in a good location that's not too cold. In this case I chose my mantle above the gas fireplace because it was about 65 degrees. My kitchen is about 50. For this sourdough starter I used tap water. Your use of tap water may get different results.

Look at the photo below. This is my old Valentina's (Wasatch Willy's is similar) after a day and a half! From the fridge it takes roughly 36 hours to become fully active. You can tell the starter is going to be ok because after 12 hours the sourdough starter is stringy. I stir it up and dump it down the drain leaving about a quarter cup still in the jar. I feed it and let it sit for another 12 hours. Then after 12 hours I dump out most and feed it again. Within the next 12 hours it will be very active.

Click here for ordering info.

My Valentina's San Francisco Sourdough Starter.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Current Thoughts

Current Thoughts.....

Feeding a starter.
You do not need to dump out half when feeding. Sometimes I make pancakes and so Ill use a larger jar to feed the starter without dumping any down the drain. Sometimes I add just a tablespoon or two rather than dumping it. It all boils down to the fact that starters are very forgiving.

Try this next time. Start a new jar of starter with 1 cup active starter that was fed at least in the last 8 hours. Add 1 cup unbleached flour and 3/4 cup bottled water. Stir. The next day add 1/4 cup unbleached flour and stir. Maybe add a little water if needed. The next feeding dump out most and feed with 1 cup unbleached flour and 3/4 cup water, stir. Next day add the 1/4 cup flour and a little water. an day 3 dump out most and start over.  Less wasteful.

I have fed in stages without dumping for a week. Made pancakes and bread from the starter and it was fine.

Storing in the fridge.
Pour starter into a clean pint jar and place in the fridge. You can scoop out a tablespoon of the starter at anytime to reactivate it.

Pour some starter onto a plastic plate spread thinly and put it up in the kitchen to dry it out. I usually do this on top of a cabinet or in a windowsill. After a few days it should be dry. If there are parts still moist be patient until dry. Take the dry starter and break it up and place in a pint jar and store in the fridge.

Baking Bread.
Stick to the basic recipe. Do not increase the starter and decrease the water. I cup of starter is all you need for a batch of bread. Do not add too much flour. If it is dense it can affect the taste and texture. Another thing is how long the dough sits in a bowl before forming into loaves. 60 to 85 degrees for 12-14 hours is perfect. If the dough is not dense enough after 12 hours, make a note to add more flour next time. I make my dough just a little denser because sourdough tends to liquefy as it ferments.

How to order my starters.... CLICK HERE

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fresh Sourdough Today from Wasatch Willy's Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter

I made a fresh batch of sourdough bread today using my exclusive Wasatch Willy's Great Salt Lake Sourdough Starter.

Normally I make boules but the last two times I made bread I have been too lazy so instead I used my nice long Norpro pans my daughter bought me. Came out fantastic.

I have mentioned the recipe several times before in this blog but I'll repeat it for those who would rather just see it now and not have to search for it.


1 batch fresh Starter (at least 8 hours after feeding)
3 cups water
8-10 Cups Unbleached White Flour. DO NOT USE BREAD FLOUR.
1 Tablespoon salt

When I say one batch I mean dump it all into your mixer bowl. Do not scrape the jar. After dumping most of it out go ahead and feed it. You do not have to save half like most Traditionalists will tell you.

Mix the starter, water and salt together until blended. Start adding flour one cup at a time. Until AFTER the dough comes away from the bowl. Knead for ten minutes.

Place the dough in a greased large plastic bowl and lightly cover and let it sit for twelve to sixteen hours in a cool place. I like to use our basement because it is always cool enough down there all year long. You can place it in the fridge but be prepared to let it sit for at least 24 hours or more until the dough hits the top of the bowl. I use one of those large Tupperware bowls. We have the older and the newer Tupperware bowls. The older bowl is wider and not as deep and the dough always hits the lid. The newer large bowl is deeper and the dough never hits the lid.

When the dough is ready to divide into loaves I like to turn on the oven at 350 for a minute and turn on the light. This prepares the oven for the loaves to sit and rise until ready to bake.

I usually divide the dough in thirds. On my scale that's about 850 grams per loaf. Divide the dough and place in loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for a couple hours.

If you used the oven to let your bread rise take it out and move your oven racks to the bottom two slots and heat your oven to 450 F. Place a small pan on the bottom rack. You are going to pour two cups boiling water into this pan after the oven is heated up and after you put the bread in the oven,

Be sure and use a Lame to score the tops of your bread before placing them in the oven. This is really easy if you make boules. If you use bread pans like I did it's more of a challenge unless you use more dough per pan.

Boil two cups of water.

Place your bread in the hot oven.

Wearing oven mittens, pour the boiling water into the pan and close the oven door.

Reduce the heat to 400 F and set your timer to 55 minutes. It takes a a lot longer to n=bake a loaf of sourdough.

When done, remove from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes, The bread will continue to bake in the middle of the loaf.


To order one of my sourdough starter packages click here for more info.

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:


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