There are just a few days left of the 2nd Annual Sourdough Giveaway. If you haven’t yet requested your starter, get it now—the giveaway goes through January 31, 2019. You’ll be joining several new sourdough bakers. This post features some of the creations they’ve shared. I also share how I prepared the packets of sourdough starter I’ve been giving away. Dehydrating starter using this technique not only lets you share starter over long distances but also lets you save some starter if you’re concerned about losing your primary culture or don’t plan on baking for several months.
Learn to dehydrate sourdough starter
I was on a mission to make a tangy rye bread long before I started working with sourdough. It all began when I arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia, on one of the coldest days on record. I’d just come from Norway, where I’d fallen in love with gjetost, a whey-based goat cheese that’s the color of caramel, has the richness of fudge, and melts on your tongue. Before leaving the country, I splurged on a log so large you can’t find it in the States. It was usually served with dry crispbread in Norway. Once I was settled in Russia, I discovered my favorite pairing for the cheese: Russian black bread.
The rye bread I ate in Russian bore little resemblance to what’s typically labeled “Russian rye” in America: no instant coffee, no cocoa powder, no caraway, no corn syrup. It was simply flour, water, and salt, all leavened with a sponge or starter. In other words, a sourdough bread. The problem was getting a recipe. Bread was subsidized when I was in Russia; a rye loaf cost 33p (about $1), and no one I met in the city was making it at home. The bakers where I bought my bread clearly thought I was a crazy American when I asked for the recipe: they started spouting ratios I could barely understand that seemed to start with about 50 pounds of flour.
Learn to make Sourdough Rye Bread and Gorgeous Grilled Cheese
I bake sourdough because it’s delicious. But many people discover its tangy flavor because they have problems digesting other breads. Studies have found that sourdough—particularly homemade, long-ferment sourdough—is not only easier to digest but may have bonus health benefits. It makes sense if you think about it: You feed your sourdough starter flour. It eats it, turning it into more wild yeast and healthy bacteria. When you use it to make a bread, the longer the dough sits, the more it predigests the flour for you. As it does this, the sourdough bacteria release micronutrients, neutralize phytic acid, and stabilize blood sugar levels. And this all makes the bread twice as tasty.
The upshot is that if you have a gluten sensitivity but have not been diagnosed with full-blown celiac disease, you may be able to eat homemade sourdough breads. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, so you should discuss this with yours, but there’s disagreement on whether gluten-free products, particularly commercially processed ones, are better than their homemade, wheat-based counterparts if you don’t have immune reactions to gluten.
Learn to make Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan and Spiced Red Lentil Dip
If you’ve been following along on Facebook or Instagram, you know I’ve spent weeks perfecting this Sourdough English Muffin recipe. Once I started researching recipes, I discovered people’s images of English muffins—including which ingredients to use and how they should be cooked—vary widely. I tested everything from extremely wet batters to baked muffins to rolls folded like Sourdough Brioche. After many practice batches, I developed the recipe I’m sharing here. It’s as close as I can get to the traditional English muffin process in my home kitchen while maintaining my favorite aspects of baking with sourdough: long ferment times, little handling, and smashing flavor and texture.
Despite its name, the English muffin’s closest kin is the crumpet; that’s probably why some English muffin recipes call for doughs so wet that they need to be cooked within a ring. The original creators baked the muffins on an open griddle; many modern recipes rely entirely on or finish in the oven to ensure the dough cooks through. I’m not sure who decided English muffins would be the perfect base for eggs Benedict, but we can all agree they pair beautifully with hollandaise.
Learn to make Sourdough English Muffins and Small-Batch Hollandaise