I remember when I started making Ezekiel Bread.  We had some serious masonry happening in the kitchen.  Bricks you could build a house with!

Eventually, with a great deal of practice on my part and the patience of saints from my taste testers, I finally tweaked the recipe to be just right for all of our bread needs.  You can find that recipe, along with the many variations I use it with, in my book Beans to Bread.  In that book, I mentioned that my next baking adventure would be with using sourdough.

Initially, I thought sourdough was just a flavor choice, but as I looked into it, I realized that sourdough is a superfood.  It even helps those who are sensitive to gluten!  Check out the video below if you really want to get into the amazing science behind sourdough (which is made of water, flour and magic).

 

 

sourdough starterI’ve tried creating a sourdough starter 3 times now.  Here’s how it has worked out:

  1. I got a bubbly starter made from organic rye flour that really made my Ezekiel Bread rise to new and incredible heights.  I didn’t feed it enough though, so it got crusty and nasty.  I had to dump it.
  2.  I tried making my starter from organic wheat flour.  I must have had a bad bag of flour because it refused to go sourdough and just went funky instead.
  3. I tried the organic rye again and it was rising and bubbly in 24 hours.  I used some and fed it again today (more flour & water) and it is gorgeous!  (See picture on the right.)

Aside from all the amazing health benefits of sourdough in your diet, I have to say I love it as a baker.  I haven’t used it without commercial yeast yet, but whenever I add 1/3 to 1/2 cup sourdough starter to my Ezekiel dough, it easily doubles the size of the finished bread.

Now that I have a good, healthy starter, I’m planning to bake without the commercial yeast and make Ezekiel bread with only the sourdough as leavening.  I’ll be sure to blog how that works out too!

One thing is for sure – knowing what I do about the health benefits and nutrients that sourdough brings into play, I’ll be using it in my Ezekiel Bread recipe from now on.

Sourdough Starter Recipe from King Arthur Flour

TO BEGIN YOUR STARTER

  • 1 cup whole rye (pumpernickel) or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water (I used a 1:1 ratio)

TO FEED YOUR STARTER

Instructions

  1. Day 1: Combine the pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this.
  2. Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there’s no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See “tips,” below, for advice about growing starters in a cold house.
  3. 2016-02-03 17.32.42
    These monsters were made to be sandwich rolls for pulled pork. They were 1/4 that size when I formed them.

    Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (4 ounces, about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it’s cold).

  4. Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. Day 3: By the third day, you’ll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It’s now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 4 ounces starter; this will be a generous 1/2 cup, once it’s thoroughly stirred down. Discard any remaining starter.
  6. Add a scant 1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup water to the 4 ounces starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.
  7. Day 4: Repeat step #6.
  8. Day 5: Repeat step #6. By the end of day #5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little “rivulets” on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn’t risen much and isn’t showing lots of bubbles, repeat step #6 on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter. Note: see “tips,” at left.
  9. Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Pour off all but 4 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface.
  10. Remove however much starter you need for your recipe (no more than 8 ounces, about 1 cup); and transfer the remaining 4 ounces of starter to its permanent home: a crock, jar, or whatever you’d like to store it in long-term. Store this starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly; we recommend feeding it with a scant 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water once a week.