The latest adventure in my kitchen has been sourdough starter for making bread. Its kind of like having another pet in the house (one that does not mind the name "Blob"). So far I have done a Boule (this is the standard round sourdough loaf), baguettes, and lots of pizza. Starter takes routine feeding... which is why it makes sense for me, since I do pizza almost every week. I am still figuring all of this out, especially how much feeding is needed in excess of what I use (Roy thinks this is partly a scam to sell more flour, but he's not complaining).
I started with starter from King Arthur Flour. There are several sources on the web, but this one was fresh (not dried) which made it easier to get going. If you want to start, just ask and I will give you some! While this might seem generous on my part, it's really just insurance that if I my Blob should fail for some reason, I could start again with one of the son's of Blob. I keep Blob in the refrigerator, using a small casserole dish that someone got us for our wedding. For ongoing care and feeding, I'm following the directions (pretty much) from King Arthur, the biggest difference is that I'm weighing the water and flour (so instead of a 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of flour, I'm using 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of flour, weighed directly in the casserole. **
For actual bread baking, I have been getting guidance from the Chocolate and Zucchini website (she keep's her starter at room temperature, which requires daily maintenance... the refrigerator is much more my speed). Here is the Boule recipe link for the loaf I made, for "various flours" I used about 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 white whole wheat flour (and no added gluten). Notice this recipe is a 1 - 2 - 3 ratio.. 1 part starter, plus 2 parts water, plus 3 parts flour. And salt.
The real reason I wanted starter was to make pizza dough. I've been making my own for a while (most every Friday), but wanted to take it up a notch. And the starter makes really, really good pizza. The texture is a bit lighter than the yeast based dough, and there is a slightly (just a bit) of the sour taste. I used a combination of my previous recipe, plus the above Boule recipe for Pizza, still following the 1-2-3 ratio:
Pizza Dough from Starter
5 ounces starter
10 ounces: ~1 tablespoon olive oil + water
15 ounces flour: ½ unbleached & ½ white whole wheat
1 teaspoon sea salt (if using kosher salt, use more)
Weigh starter, liquid and flours into a bowl, mix until well combined. Let sit for 30 minutes or so. Add salt and knead 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to handle (dough will be sticky, take care to keep soft and not stiff). Make 2 or 3 balls, place in oiled bowl. Let rise for 4 hours at room temperature, then make pizza. Or put kneaded dough in a Ziploc bag (that you have put a little oil in) and put in the refrigerator for up to a week (I think the dough is best at 2-3 days). Take out and let come to room temperature (you can hurry this by putting into a bowl of warm water) .
I have yet to try grilled pizza yet (most weeks I just use the oven), but have no reason to believe it would be a problem. It seems that maybe I need to do another entry on pizza toppings (including some of my recent try's... caramelized onion and goat cheese, potato and bacon, grilled peppers with 3 cheeses, as well as the basics (salami, mushroom, red pepper and onion).
You can also use the leftover dough to make baguettes.
** I can thank Sharon H. for getting my the cookbook "Ratio" by Ruhlman which teaches all sorts of ways to use your scale in the kitchen.
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