Wednesday food post: More adventures in sourdough!

I’ve had some fun with sourdough this week. I’m finding that we don’t need two loaves of bread a week- so while the second loaf is just fine in the fridge that whole time, I think I’ll pare it down and just bake one loaf each week to keep it fresher and get some more practice in. Anyway, for those who aren’t familiar with sourdough, there’s a starter culture that you keep. It’s filled with all the good bacteria and yeast that you need to make your bread, and it looks like a really wet dough. Each week it has to be fed more flour and water to keep the little guys happy and alive. This is super easy, I just throw in equal parts of each and shake it up and put it back in the fridge. However, the starter can become pretty big after a while, especially if you aren’t baking a lot (which I don’t really except for occasional loaves of bread), and I’m still developing the starter into a good healthy one, so I often pull the whole thing out and revive it at room temperature. Many things I’ve read say to frequently toss about half of your starter to keep it all healthy. I hate to waste it! I’ve been hoping to incorporate weekly recipes for the leftover starter that I have, and I think I’ve found three distinct winners. Pancakes are one of them, although I didn’t do those this week. All you do is mix the flour and liquid parts of your pancake recipe and add some starter to the batter and let sit overnight. Then I add my other ingredients and make pancakes like normal. Delicious, and way better for your digestion than just plain old unsoaked flour. They don’t have a strong sour taste, either. Anyway, this week I was very excited because I had two definite successes in a row.

The first- sourdough pizza. It was perfect! 

Sourdough Pizza Crust

1.5 cups sourdough starter
1.5 cups flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients to make a soft dough (if too wet add more flour, if too dry add more starter), and then refrigerate until the next day or right before use. The dough was a little sticky to work with, but I just did my best and spread it out on the pan with the help of a little extra flour. Add toppings, bake for 25 minutes or so (or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly) at 425 F and enjoy!

I think this will definitely be a weekly recipe for us, and I plan to find a way to successfully freeze the crusts for quick meals- especially in preparation for when baby comes and we don’t have much time to cook. Plus it’s a great way to use up extra veggies and scraps from the week in a fun way. 

The next thing was CRACKERS! I love crackers- crackers and cheese are one of my favorite snacks. However, crackers are often full of refined flour and a bunch of mystery ingredients, and they are expensive. The other thing I worry about is that kids love them, and will often just prefer them to anything else, snack wise- I think because they ultimately feed addictions to those refined ingredients, and that does a lot of damage. Those addictions are no joke, and they can sometimes set kids up for great struggles in the future. So, we mostly go without crackers, and when we do get them it’s a treat- usually in the form of almond or rice crackers rather than wheat. 

Anyway, I’ve made crackers in the past, and they weren’t nearly as good as these.

Sourdough Crackers (recipe copied from here)

1 cup “discarded” sourdough starter
1/4 cup room temperature lard from pastured pork (or coconut oil or softened butter) *I just used butter
1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour, or as much as you need to make a stiff dough
1/2 tsp sea salt
Olive oil for brushing
Coarse salt (such as kosher salt) for sprinkling on top

Mix ingredients together (except olive oil) and let sit out for at least 7 hours. Although, I just popped mine in the refrigerator for a day or so until I was ready to use it.

This is what my dough looked like. Sticky and bubbly.

I scooped out about a 1/4 cup at a time and rolled it out as thin as I could on parchment paper (although I hope to get some of these nice baking sheets soon). It was pretty sticky, so I had to liberally sprinkle flour so that it wouldn’t stick to the rolling pin.

I paid careful attention to roll the dough out as evenly and thinly as possible. Then I brushed it with oil, liberally sprinkled it with sea salt, and carefully cut it into bit sized pieces.

Then bake in batches at 350 F for 15-20 minutes or until brown. I had to do a few batches to get them all done. They came apart easily and were beautiful! Many of the crackers toward the center were softer than the outside pieces. I gathered up all the softer ones and combined them on a cookie sheet and stuck them in the oven with the last batch just as it was done baking. I let all of those sit in the oven while it cooled down and they crisped up perfectly.

They were crunchy and so delicious! They tasted like a mix between a wheat-thin and a cheez-it. I think they tasted slightly cheesy because of the fermentation that went on. So good! Anyway, they were a huge hit and were gone in two days (two quart jars full)… and I didn’t have to feel bad at all for letting Vera crunch away on them! It was one of those things where I would have actually bought a box of these if they were for sale. Win!

Bonus:

I’ve been thinking about quick meals to do for when baby comes, and the crock pot is a huge lifesaver for me on busy days. This was one of my easy 10 minute meals that was really tasty. I added a can of tomatoes, a roughly chopped onion, some garlic, a beef roast, some pinto beans, salt, pepper, cumin, two whole jalapeños, and a bunch of finely chopped cilantro stems. I let that cook all day in the crock pot. Just before dinner I pulled out the roast, shredded it with a couple of forks, and returned it to the pot. Then we scooped it out onto warm corn tortillas and topped it with raw onion, a little cheese, sour cream and chopped cilantro leaves. Extremely good, and super fast. I was thinking I could easily put together little crock pot meal "kits" in the freezer that we just put in the fridge to thaw the day before, and then dump it all in the crock pot. Anyway, this meal would definitely be one of those kits.

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (19)

  1. ladyfaith3

    The pizza looks so delicious! I am going to go and inspect my crackers I just bought. I bought whole wheat ones…I hadn’t thought about mystery ingredients!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      It was really surprising for me to hear about how grains are just not that good for you if they aren’t properly prepared. Basically, even things with the “whole grain” labels are misleading. We can’t even digest/absorb them properly if we don’t prep them by either soaking or fermenting first. Anyway, here’s a more in depth article about it all:

      http://www.westonaprice.org/Be-Kind-to-Your-Grains…And-Your-Grains-Will-Be-Kind-To-You.html

      Reply
  2. pagangoat

    Love your food posts! I’ve still yet to try my hand at sourdough, but I’m eager to experiment. Those crackers sound really good! I bet they’d be good with sesame seeds or maybe some nutritional yeast…I definitely need to get some starter!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Ooh I love your cracker ideas. I’ll definitely have to play with them. You should really just catch your own starter! If I had known you could do that when I started then I wouldn’t have bothered buying one. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        I guess I could try it…I only worry a little because there might be mold/mildew in the house. Remind me again the procedure? .

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          I believe all you do is mix a cup of flour and a cup of water and cover it with a towel. You set it outside during the day and bring it in at night, and each day add a little more flour and water (I’d do like half a cup of each). Pretty soon it will bubble and start smelling yeasty. πŸ™‚

          Reply
          1. pagangoat

            Actually outside and then in on the counter? And when it does get bubbly and yeasty, then do you put it in a mason jar in the fridge? Does it matter what kind of flour? Can you mix whole wheat and unbleached etc? And do you just use a thin tea towel, or something thicker? I’m hitting you with a barrage of questions tonight…

          2. Gracie (Post author)

            I mean, I read that you can do it on the counter completely, but that you have access to more wild yeast outside, so I just read to put it out during the day… I just googled “catching a sourdough starter” and found all sorts of info. Many people like to make their starters out of rye, but I’m sure you can do whatever. And yeah, I’d just cover it with a thin towel. πŸ™‚

          3. pagangoat

            Thanks, I think I’m going to try it today:) I’ll let you know how it goes!

  3. the_gersemi

    That pizza looks absolutely delicious!

    I’ve been contemplating getting a crock pot but I guess I don’t really see how it saves on anything. They run on electricity, right? Hm. We usually cook with gas, so using a crock pot would cost us more. :/

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yeah, it’s just an easy/safe way to cook something low and slow all day. I have an electric stove, so I guess it doesn’t make much of a difference really. Anyway, it’s just so fuss free and I don’t worry about it being on all day while I’m out. I’m sure you could recreate any crock pot recipe on the stove, though. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. pithy_epigrams

    Great, now I’m hungry!

    Reply
  5. yayhappens

    The pizza looks delicious! Is your tomato sauce home-made also?

    A few months ago I had watched Alton Brown on YouTube tell me about the science of how starter yeast works!(About 5 minutes into it he talks about some really interesting yeast science! LOL.)

    I have never thought of doing homemade crackers. Great idea! Other ideas in addition to the sesame seeds is poppy seeds or maybe mixing cinnamon into them.

    I just finished eating and your food looks so good I want to eat some more. yum yum!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      We actually didn’t use tomato sauce for this pizza! It was a leftover tomatoey beef thing that we didn’t have enough of so we spread it all over and added a little bbq to make it saucy enough. It was great! I’ll probably make tomato sauce soon though, especially if this is gonna be a regular thing. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. pagangoat

    ok, I have more questions! I tried googling it, but was overwhelmed by all the conflicting and complicated advise.
    Do you remove some of the starter before you feed it each day, even while you’re just getting it started? And I was using a fork to mix it, but then read that metal will wreck it…is that true? Do I have to start over?
    And some said to have it at room temperature, on the kitchen counter covered with plastic wrap, and add warm water. I’ve just been putting it on the (open)windowsill covered with cheese cloth, and adding room temp. water. Is that right? I’m feeling a bit lost, but I really want to figure this out! And since you seem to have had success, I hope you don’t mind my myriad of questions!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I just add room temp water, and I don’t remove starter each time I feed it. Just sometimes. I also don’t cover it with plastic wrap, if I’m refreshing it sometimes I just cover it with a plate or towel to keep bugs out. It sounds like you’re doing everything I would do! I have also read the thing about metal, but I doubt stirring it with a fork is really going to kill it. I think you just don’t want to put it all in a metal bowl or something. I do use wooden spoons when I deal with it, though, just in case. It is complicated, isn’t it! It’s hard, too, when you make your first loaf of bread and it comes out like a flat brick… Just persevere!

      Reply
      1. Gracie (Post author)

        Also, yeah, whoever said to cover it with plastic wrap is silly- how are you supposed to catch the wild yeast if it’s air tight?

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          That’s what I thought. Also, I don’t even have any plastic wrap, that stuff is scary…I have waxed paper, and occasionally foil, but mostly I use jars or a bowl with a plate or lid over top. I used cheese cloth over the starter because it seemed like the most logical choice if you’re trying to catch spores of any kind.

          Reply
      2. pagangoat

        thanks for all your help:)
        I am definitely going to continue to experiment, though hopefully the first loaf will at least be edible!
        When I added flour today, it was way too thin, so I skipped the water. It had separated, and there was a layer of darkish liquid on top…that’s normal,right? I stirred it in, and it smells slightly sour, I think like it should. Now I have to figure out the next step…

        Reply

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