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Top tips for new sourdough creators…

The massive surge of interest in sourdough during the lockdown has been amazing, I am literally inundated with messages and emails from dawn til dusk. A lot of them are from people asking for help as they make new starters, others are asking about how to use the various flours they’ve managed to get hold of.

If you’ve recently joined the sourdough fun and are making a starter, have made one, or are struggling getting flour, I thought I’d share some tips in case it’s useful..

*You only need small amounts of flour to make a sourdough starter.
*You can use any flour to make a starter, ideally not gluten free flour although it can be done, it will be a lot weaker.
*You don’t need to feed your starter the same flour it was made from if you’ve now run out.
*Once your starter is established, you only need to feed it to use it, daily feedings are no longer necessary.
*It doesn’t need feeding again to store it.
*Only feed your starter what it needs to generate what you need for your recipe, this way there’s no waste and you’re not using unnecessary flour.
*You don’t need to work to ratios or percentages.
*The flour you made your starter from does not need to match the flour you make your dough from.

If I can help anyone with their starter do let me know. And if you’ve got random flours and would like some ideas for using them I’m starters or doughs, let me know too.

Goats cheese and pesto sourdough waffles

Let me introduce you to my most recent creation….it all began when I bought a waffle maker recently, possibly a huge mistake for my waistline, but so much fun to play with!

Making waffles with starter adds the lovely flavour we all adore, as well as a great texture.

I’m a savoury eater, so you could convert this easily for a sweet option but let me assure you that these are worth trying.

I used just starter, egg, goats cheese and some tomato pesto. It’s great way to use discard if you’re making a new starter, or using up some if you’ve been building up too much, or feed up your starter for the purpose then portion out what you need for the recipe.

You could also use less starter and top up the rest of the mixture with flour and water. Personally I prefer them made with all starter for the flavour.

Ingredients

Makes 1 round/4 quarters (double the quantities for 2 rounds)

200g starter (discard, unfed, fed and active and stirred down)

OR 100g starter, as above, plus 50g flour of your choice & 50g water

1 large egg

50g crumbly goats cheese (or cheese of your choice)

25g pesto of your choice (or harissa, chilli sauce, whatever you fancy)

Method

Heat your waffle maker to maximum.

Stir all of the ingredients together well, but don’t break up the goats cheese too much. Let it sit for 10 minutes to thicken.

Once the waffle maker is ready, pour all of the mixture in (it all fitted perfectly in mine, assess how much yours needs from your own experience), close the maker and cook for 10-15 minutes or until there’s no more steam coming from your maker.

Carefully ease the cooked waffles from the maker, cut into quarters and serve.

Tuck in as soon as cool enough to hold!

If you don’t have a waffle maker, maybe add a little extra flour and try these as pancakes or flatbreads?

My waffle maker is made by Netta and I ordered it on amazon.

A guide to making sourdough pancakes…

Making pancakes with sourdough starter is simple, fast and oh so satisfying! It’s also a perfect way to use up discard if you are making a new starter, or using up some if you’ve found that you’ve started keeping too much starter.

Alternatively, feed your starter for the purpose. Build it up so that you have 100-200g of starter then mix it with milk of your choice, and an egg or egg replacement, and, if you feel the batter needs it, extra flour. Whisk it all up together.

*If you are feeding your starter solely for making pancakes, just feed it more than normal to create what you need. If you’re using discard it doesn’t need feeding or any additional attention, just use it as it is.

*As a guide, I whisk 150-200g starter with 1 egg and then enough milk to make the batter I want, depending on whether I’m making crepes or scotch/American pancakes. Thinner for crepes, thicker for the smaller thicker pancakes.

*You can use any type of starter and any type of flour to make your pancakes, I use whatever takes my fancy, hence the different colours of mine shown here.

*Make the batter as thin or thick as you usually would for pancakes.

*Let it sit until you’re ready to use it, or use immediately. If you’re going to let it sit, maybe for 1-2 hours, it will ferment a little and develop some more flavour, just cover the bowl until you’re ready to use it. It can sit at room temp. I usually use mine immediately.

*Heat a large pan over a medium heat and melt some butter in the pan. Spoon in a ladle full of batter and cook until ready, turning halfway once the base has browned.

*Eat the pancakes with your choice of sweet or savoury fillings.

I used 2 of my sourdough pancakes to make quesadillas, I filled 2 with a homemade chilli sauce and grated cheese and melted them together
Tasty sourdough quesadillas

Bee pollen sourdough…

I was very lucky recently to be sent some bee pollen by one of my very kind Instagram followers. I’ve had bee pollen before, but not like this, this one is a vibrant yellow with lovely fat granules. Sourdough loves bee pollen, it loves the natural wild yeast and sugars that it brings to the party.

For this loaf I played with a new starter adding bee pollen to it from the beginning, and you’ll see from the photos in the grid below that it went a bit wild! It was very exciting to wake up to. Once I’d stirred it down and fed it again the next morning, it was still active and bubbly and ready to use within an hour.

This is what I used to make this loaf, however, you do NOT need to make a new starter yourself. If you would like to see how much starters like bee pollen, feed up your starter, split some out into a new bowl and feed it for a couple of days with your usual flour and water and a good amount of bee pollen before giving it a go. Or if you fancy making a new starter with some, then go for it! I didn’t measure out the bee pollen, I used a dessert sized spoon amount each time I added some.

Top left: the bee pollen;
top right and bottom left: my happy starter after an overnight bee pollen feed; bottom right: an hour after a feed of flour and water that morning

To make my loaf, I used my master recipe, exactly as it is (link on the left of your screen) with this bee pollen boosted starter. You can also add the bee pollen to your dough instead.

For this loaf I used my 28cm long oval banneton and baked in my 30cm long oval pan from a cold start for 55 minutes. It’s all in my recipe 👍🏻

And this was inside the cut loaf. You can see the yellow tint from the bee pollen. Although bee pollen is sweet it does not make your loaf sweet using this small amount, but it does make the sourness more mild, and really produces a great texture, really fabulously chewy! It was a lovely loaf to eat.

If you do try it, I hope you like it!

My breakfast mix loaf…

I’ll be honest, I absolutely love this loaf; the smell, texture and flavour is wonderful! I’ve made a small version before but this time I made a full sized loaf…

I made this loaf with dough that I added a portion of my breakfast mix to. My breakfast mix is packed with oats, seeds and spices, hence the amazing colour from the turmeric, so this loaf is packed with character, as well as the goodness of sourdough and the benefits of all those added ingredients. It is literally a loaf full of fabulousness and goodness!

Here’s what I did:

🌟 I used my master recipe with 400g of type 00 flour (you can use bread flour) with 100g of my breakfast mix (below) to make it up to my usual 500g. I did everything else the same as usual.

🌟 I proved the dough on the counter for a total of 17 hours, this can be a slow dough to prove due to the dough being heavy, the effect of the spices on the dough. Watch it and allow it time to double in size but don’t worry if it takes longer than you’re used to.

🌟 I then pulled the dough together into a ball, rolled it in oats and placed it into my banneton and into the fridge. This video shows how I add the oats for the crust.

🌟 I turned it out, scored and baked it from a cold start 12 hours later. And here it is….

And here’s the inside view…you can see the colour the spices added and peeks of some of the seeds…

My breakfast mix is something I put together in large batches to eat as porridge every morning. I don’t measure it so this is a guide by eye and memory based on filling a large jar:

🌟 70% oats (I use a mix of rolled and thick cut/steel cut oats)

🌟 15% mixed roasted seeds (I use pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds)

🌟 10% milled flaxseeds

🌟 5% my spice mix

Sometimes I throw in chopped roasted nuts or toasted flaked almonds, depending what takes my fancy and what’s it my cupboard.

For the spice mix, again, I never measure out any of the spices, so this is a guide based on what I put in a jar and then shake it up to mix it:

🌟 60% ground cinnamon

🌟 15% ground ginger

🌟 10% ground turmeric

🌟 5% ground nutmeg

🌟 5% ground cardamom

🌟 5% ground cloves & ground black pepper

If you try it, I hope you like it!

My sourdough spelt banana bread…

Something for the weekend?

Introducing my sourdough banana spelt bread…

Inspired by seeing several people’s banana breads recently, including the lovely Kellie, I decided to make my menfolk a banana loaf. Of course, having some starter fed and active, I couldn’t resist making my own sourdough version with no refined sugar at the same time. And this is it!

I used spelt flours, feel free to substitute them for flours of your choice.

The starter adds flavour and texture but not lift in this recipe as it is an immediate recipe. I will try it as an overnight prove one day soon.

It’s great freshly baked but also good later and the next day once the flavours have developed.

As the photos show, I added chopped Brazil nuts, but next time I’d go with no nuts at all or maybe a few walnuts; the Brazil nuts made it a little dry so I don’t recommend it.

As is my choice, I used a small amount of honey in my loaf, I have included more in this written up recipe. If you would prefer something sweeter please feel free to double it or replace it with 100-150g of your choice of sugar.

Ingredients

100g white spelt flour

100g wholemeal spelt flour

100g bubbly active starter

50g runny honey

50g softened butter

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2tsp baking powder

1 egg

3 medium ripe bananas, roughly mashed

An extra banana if you want one for decoration, sliced

Method

Preheat your oven to 160C/320F fan/convection, 180C/360F non fan/convention

Either grease or line a 2lb/900g, 23 x 13cm/9” x 5” loaf tin

Mix all of the ingredients together well, but not over mixed, spoon the mixture into the loaf tin.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a metal skewer comes out clean.

Eat!

My hazelnut cacao chocolate chip sourdough muffins..

Introducing my hazelnut cacao choc chip sourdough muffins!

I recently whizzed up some hazelnut cacao butter by blending roasted peeled chopped hazelnuts with cacao powder, a squeeze of honey and a little rapeseed oil.

I only added a small amount of honey to take the edge off the bitter cacao powder as I don’t like overly sweet things, but it can easily be made sweeter for other tastes. You can also use cocoa powder instead of cacao.

I ended up with quite a lot of it so I thought I’d play with some. Consequently these muffins are packed with it!!

Healthy, protein packed, sourdough beauties!

This is what I mixed up:

50g active starter

300g hazelnut cacao butter

200g oat milk

200g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

I added a handful of chocolate chips to half of them.

I made half of them without the choc chips or added sugar, for me to test some, but you might prefer things sweeter than I do so feel free to add sugar or honey to the mixture.

I mixed the ingredients all together well but careful to not over mix it.

Spooned the mixture into 12 muffins liners.

Baked at 200C fan/220C non fan for around 18 mins until a sharp knife came out clean.

They came out with lovely crunchy tops and soft interiors. For me, they tasted better later and the next day once cooled and the flavours had developed. The sponge stayed soft and lovely even the day after that. I was definitely happy with these.

Look at that light fluffy sponge! So lovely!

Feel free to substitute the oat milk for milk of your choice, plain flour for white spelt flour or all purpose flour, and my hazelnut cacao butter with hazelnut cocoa butter or hazelnut for a really sweet hit! You could also increase the amount of starter for more of a sourdough flavour, and reduce the amount of flour and milk. Have a play!

Happy Baking!!!

My sourdough cheese soufflés….

This idea has been floating round my brain for a while now and this week I finally tested it out and this was the outcome….beautiful airy cheese soufflés, rich from the eggs and with the flavour of cheese, but with the added tang of sourdough. SOOOOOO a good! Tasty, light, textured, perfect morsels. For me, a total winner!

As this was pure experiment – let me clarify, I have never ever made any form of soufflé, sourdough or otherwise before this – I only made a small amount of batter so feel free to increase it. This made 4 small soufflés, in 8cm (internal) diameter pots.

The idea came from thinking about the light bubbly airy nature of sourdough starter mixed with the light airy nature of a soufflé. In my mind it made perfect sense! And luckily the result was fabulous, even if I say so myself! I immediately ate 3 just to be totally sure 😆😆😆😆

Small but perfectly formed and so very tasty!!!!!

It was so exciting to watch them cook as they grew very quickly, and very well! I was dancing round my kitchen in excitement.

I am so happy with the outcome, I hope you love them too if you try them. I know they could have risen more evenly, I know they’re not ‘perfect’ in the world of soufflés, but I don’t care! It worked and they taste so good, to me they’re perfectly beautiful sourdough cheese soufflé babies!

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

100g bubbly active starter

100g whole/full fat milk

100g grated medium/mature cheddar (depending just how much you love cheese!)

2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites

Butter to grease the pots

Ground almonds, 4 tablespoons (use finely grated Parmesan or breadcrumbs for a different finish)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/360F fan assisted/convection or 200C/390F non fan/non convection, and place an oven tray inside to preheat.

Grease your ramekins, or small ceramic pots, with butter, then sprinkle ground almonds/almond flour into each pot and tap it around to create a layer inside each pot, covering the base and up the sides.

In a medium bowl, make the batter by adding the starter, milk, egg yolks and cheese. Stir it all together well.

In another clean bowl, whisk the eggs whites until they just hold their peaks.

Gently scrape the whisked egg whites into the batter.

Using a metal spoon, gently fold the eggs whites into the batter, using a figure 8 action, or cutting and stirring round the bowl. Do this carefully to mix them in whilst protecting the air that you’ve whisked into the whites. Do not over mix. This is crucial.

Gently spoon the batter into the prepared bowls filling them evenly and to the top of the pots if possible.

‘Top hat’ each one by running a cutlery knife, or clean finger nail, around the edge of each pot, just the very tip of the knife, so that the mixture doesn’t stick. (I didn’t do this very well hence the uneven growths!)

Place the pots onto the preheated tray in the oven.

After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 160C/320F fan assisted/convection or 180C/360F non fan/non convection, and bake for another 15 minutes.

DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN UNTIL FULLY BAKED. If you do they will collapse.

Serve immediately.

They may start to collapse quickly but it’s all part of the fun!

Voila! My new creation! Welcome to the world sourdough cheese soufflés!