Sourdough: Take 2

This was the second week I made sourdough. If you want to read about the first week, click on the link. This week’s sourdough turned out much better than last week’s, and I’m attributing that to the fact that both starters were more active this week. If you haven’t read my first post about sourdough, I’m calling the starter I leave out “Counter Mother.” And the started I put in the fridge, “Refrigerator Mother,” so we can all keep them straight! This Saturday, I made bread from my Counter Mother and bagels from the Refrigerator Mother.

I pulled out the Refrigerator Mother on Friday night. I fed it, leaving it out overnight to allow it to become active again. The next morning, it had doubled, which means that it was active enough to be kept in the refrigerator. I added more flour to the bagel dough than what the recipe called for, and when I formed the dough into bagels, it was much easier to handle. The bagels still didn’t hold their shape ultimately, but they weren’t as fluid as the first time I made them. The recipe called for semolina flour, which I didn’t have either of these times, but I finally got some, so next week I’ll add that and see if it helps the bagels at all.

Making sourdough bread

I made bread with the Counter Mother. It was also more active than last week. If you remember, I didn’t have enough starter to make bread last Saturday, so I made rolls instead (bread takes 6-7 cups of starter). I only had 5 cups of starter, after I keep a ½ cup back to keep as my Counter Mother, but I just reduced the rest of the ingredients to make it work. The bread didn’t rise very much, so the starter still isn’t as active as it should be (partly because my house is a little colder than sourdough likes). The loaves turned out small and chewy, so they’ll be toaster loaves!

Ready to go into the pans

Overall, this Saturday’s bake day turned out better than last week’s, and as the starters become more active, the breads will also improve. As I get more practice, they should improve, as well! I love making bread because it is so relaxing and a great way to clear my head. Definitely an excellent ending to the week! I hope you have enjoyed learning more about my sourdough journey. To get next week’s sourdough update directly in your inbox, subscribe to The Sojourner’s Journey!

Happy Journeys,

Shayne

My Sourdough Journey

In my Journal entry from January 16, 2021, I mentioned that Mom gave me a sourdough starter for my birthday. I wanted to start making sourdough bread again but hadn’t taken the time to mix up my own starter. So, this was the perfect birthday present! Now that my sourdough is ready to be baked with, I have dubbed Saturday’s “Sourdough Saturday.” Bread is almost an all-day process, so I thought this was a fitting title!

Oh, did I also mention that I thought the starter my mom gave me wasn’t ever going to become active, so I made a new starter? Then I feed my mom’s starter, and it came to life in a big way, so now I have two starters to maintain! I wouldn’t suggest this if you are strapped for time. I am just having a hard time throwing one away. It seems wasteful! But I’ll get into what I am doing with my starters in a minute. To simplify things, I’m going to call the starter Mom gave me “Counter Mother” since that is what sourdough starter that is kept on the counter is called in the sourdough world anyway (It is a bizarre term for sourdough!). And the starter I made will be called “Refrigerator Mother” since I’m going to keep it in the fridge from now on.

Making Rolls

Sourdough Rolls Take One

This week was the first time my starter was active enough to bake with. Bread takes 6-7 cups of starter and, I didn’t have that much. I decided to make rolls and bagels instead. For the rolls, I used my Refrigerator Mother. For the bagels, I used my Counter Mother (see how that could be slightly misconstrued?). What I like about bread-making is, even though it is almost an all-day process, you really only spend half an hour to an hour in the kitchen actually making the bread. And freshly baked bread smells lovely and tastes even better! Rolls are made using the same process you would use for bread. You mix up the dough and let it rise for two hours. Then you form the rolls, put them in the pan, and let them rise for another two hours. Finally, you bake them. I started with the rolls first because they have to rise twice.

The Bagels

Bagels are a little different. You mix up the dough and let it rise for two hours, then you form the bagels. You boil them in water for 4 minutes before brushing them with an egg/water mixture and baking them. It is a bit more of a process than rolls, and it didn’t help that my Counter Mother wasn’t quite active enough to be baked with yet. I should have given it another week before I used it to bake with. Because it wasn’t as active as it should have been, the bagel dough didn’t have enough flour in it. They turned out misshapen and hard as a rock. But we’ll try again next week!

What to do With the Starter

Once I finished using the starters, I put the Counter Mother in a clean glass bowl and put it on the mantle above the pellet stove. This spot is the warmest in the house, and sourdough needs a warmer environment to thrive (70-73°F). I don’t keep my house that warm when I am gone, so the starter will take more time to become active and start growing on its own. The Refrigerator Mother obviously went into the refrigerator after I was finished with it. I put it into a glass mason jar with a glass lid. I also added quite a bit of flour to the starter, mixed it in, and packed flour on top without mixing it, hoping this would slow down the starter’s growth. I won’t feed it until the night before I am ready to bake with it (Friday night). Since this starter won’t be a big as the Counter Mother, I will use it for bagels or rolls and not breads that require more starter.

Keep checking back each week for more updates on my sourdough journey. As I do more baking and more research, I’ll share what I have learned with you! Subscribe to get all of the latest posts in your inbox!

Happy Journeys,

Shayne

Introduction to Cooking

Mom grows a big garden every year, and having that fresh produce has ruined buying it at the store for me! I love to cook, and everything just tastes better when it’s picked fresh out of the garden. We also try to can and freeze some of the produce for later, and that even tastes better than the frozen and canned food you can buy at the store. Another thing that has been a blessing to us is being able to raise our own beef. I absolutely refuse to buy meat at the store because it doesn’t even look fresh sitting on the shelf! Since getting rid of the milk cow in 2012, Mom recently bought another Jersey. Dad loves to make cheese, so Sunday is the cheese-making day (It is an all-day process). He gets really scientific about it, trying to make it come out just right! So now I don’t have to buy milk, cheese, or butter. My parents also have chickens, so I don’t have to buy eggs, either. Wow, I didn’t realize how much I get from my parents until I had to write it all out! We will never be completely self-sustaining (we still have to buy the raw ingredients for some things), but we are trying to get as close as possible.

I have been very lazy about my cooking in the last year or so. I live by myself, so it is hard to find the motivation and inspiration to cook well. Especially in the winter months, when the garden isn’t producing, and I have to buy produce from the store. It just isn’t the same. I also live almost an hour from the nearest grocery store, so I try to limit my trips to the store. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of buying groceries to last me a couple of weeks. And, my fridge seems to be where food goes to die. I see it in the store and think I will use it, but then it goes bad before I get around to making anything with it!

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for staying motivated to cook for yourself, as well as the recipes you love. I love to try new ones! In 2021, I will be better about cooking my own food and throwing it in the freezer for those unmotivated nights. Upcoming posts to look for in the Cooking section include Mississippi Roast and Bread Pudding.

Happy Journeys!

Shayne