During my last marathon taper, I knew I needed something new to keep me from going crazy. I don’t watch much TV, but one night, I decided to watch Michael Pollen’s Cooked documentary on Netflix. The episode I saw was all about fermentation of foods. Pollen claimed that sourdough was the only proper way to make bread using wild yeast that lived naturally in the air. With only water, salt, flour, and a lot of patience, one could make incredible artisan bread. Perfect for loading up on carbs before the race, I thought. As soon as the show was over, I went to the kitchen to make my starter.
Fourteen days later, I had a loaf of bread. Clearly, patience is the most important ingredient.
When searching for recipes online, I found King Arthur’s Flour‘s site to be extremely helpful. Not only did they have good instructions for making the starter, but they had several good recipes for what do do with your discarded starter. If you’ve never done it before, like me, you learn every day, twice a day, you have to feed your starter some flour and water after throwing away half of what you already have in your jar. It feels very wasteful to throw out a cup of floury mix everyday, but that’s what helps the starter culture grow and get strong. But the cool thing is that there are lots of recipes that use the discarded starter for flavor. It won’t be active enough to actually rise the dough like mature starter will, but it still adds the tang of sourdough to crackers, pizza dough, pancakes, and my favorite: English muffins.
Can we stop here on the English muffins? Learning to make my own whole wheat English muffins was life changing! I don’t think I will ever go back to store bought again. For around $1.48 and two hours or so, I can make 24 gorgeous, delicious muffins that we keep in the freezer. We have a giant cast iron griddle that fits over our stove so I can make them all in one batch. Who knew English Muffins were made on the stove?! I had never even thought about it before.
Once the first side has cooked for a few minutes, you place a cookie sheet on top to prevent them from doming into dinner rolls.
Nooks and crannies!
Now that my marathon was over a month ago, I probably shouldn’t be eating bread with every single meal any more, but I still like to make a loaf once or twice a week. We will still buy bread from the store occasionally, but it is so worth the effort to be able to have good, simple bread made from scratch.