The easiest sourdough pizza base

Yes, I made another sourdough starter… yes, I know I have the refrigerator dough already on the go… yes, I know we can’t possibly eat that much bread. Blame it on ferment madness.

I have to do something with the discarded starter that is the inevitable result of keeping a starter alive, and I have posted many options I use to avoid wasting the starter. This is a new and REALLY easy option I just discovered (by being lazy).

I wanted to make pizza and I didn’t want to wash up the inevitable dough encrusted bowl… so I didn’t make dough. My thought process went something like this;

“I want pizza, better make some dough.”

“I don’t want to wash all that up, maybe I’ll have fried eggs instead”

“No… I want pizza, can I use a slice of bread? No..yuck”

” I wonder if the starter will bake up into a base without extra flour?”

“Why not? Let’s try it.”

So I poured the starter into a baking paper lined tray and sprinkled some fresh picked herbs from the garden.

Then I put on the usual pizza toppings and a pile of grated cheese and popped it into the oven on about 200 C.

The resulting pizza is beautiful and cuts up really nicely for school lunches.

Why didn’t I reach this level of lazy before?

The baby swallows are fledging too, which means that all dishes and cups need to be covered at all times and the lid is on the washing machine when it is full of water too. All this is because the babies are prone to landing in odd places when they start to fly. Taking these photos was a bit of a mission, I can tell you. It doesn’t take long for them to get the hang of their wings (a day or two at the most) and we love watching the process, but until they learn, we have to live with zooming babies buzzing around our ears.

Sourdough scones

 

 

Against all possible predictions and probabilities, the sourdough starter is still alive. It has been used regularly and is now kept in the fridge between baking days. I have been making a loaf of bread every week or so, as it is only me who eats it; my partner says it gives him heart burn and my daughter doesn’t enjoy the taste. I have also made the odd other thing with it; muffins, brownies and pikelets, even doughnuts. Now I thought it was time to try scones.

The usual caliber of scones I create ranges from inedible to…interesting as a building material and possibly bullet proof. I am hoping that these will be different. I found a recipe that looks good on this blog; Passion fruit garden.

Basic recipe

Scones:

  • 1½ cups sifted all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda (bicarb soda) (The recipe said ½ tsp if starter is quite sour.  For my first batch, I used the ½ tsp because my starter was well and truly dead!)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup starter.

 Method:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the starter and mix.  As mentioned above, I had to add some milk as my dough was too dry.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.
  5. Knead only long enough to form a smooth dough.
  6. Press out dough to about 2 cm deep.
  7. Use a scone cutter to cut out scones.
  8. Put scones onto a tray lined with baking paper.
  9. Brush scones with milk.
  10. Let scones rest for one hour.
  11. Bake for 12 minutes at 200°C.

 

Of course with my daughter being almost totally vegan now I decided to substitute vegetable oil for the butter, other than that I just followed the recipe. It made six large scones, I think I will make a double or even treble batch next time.

 

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The resulting scones taste good but they look like flat rocks. They crumbled as I tried to cut them too. I think that is because of the oil for butter substitution. Next batch I will use the vegan spread we use for butter.

Update; I tried a batch with real butter, just to see how it would go. They turned out ok, but nothing spectacular. I think I need more practice at this…my losing streak when it comes to scones continues.

Sourdough chocolate zucchini muffins

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My zucchini patch

Having stated that I really don’t like to cook, I thought I would do another post on how I use left over sourdough starter. While I don’t enjoy cooking and spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen grumbling in a very unbecoming manner and wishing I was outside, I do like to eat and if I don’t make it I won’t eat. Also I hate to throw out that magic starter, it seems truly amazing to me that you can mix flour and water together and end up with bread (after a bit of neglect). I have a fair few zucchini plants busily producing the famed glut in the garden, so what better way to use up spare sourdough starter and too many zucchini than to turn them into chocolate.

I found the original recipe for these muffins here. I found a recipe for zucchini brownies while I was searching that looked good too.

 

Sourdough chocolate zucchini muffins (makes about 12)

3/4 cup honey

Sourdough starter

1/3 cup of vegetable oil (the original recipe calls for butter but I couldn’t find any)

2 eggs (or 4 bantam eggs in my case)

1 tablespoon of vanilla

a pinch of salt

1 1/3 cups of plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 grated zucchini (it doesn’t matter too much whether it’s a big one or a little one)

Method

Mix all the liquids together until the sourdough starter is combined then add the dry ingredients slowly until they are combined. Add the zucchini and mix through well. Spoon into muffin cases or a tray then pop into the oven at 180-200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.

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The wet ingredients

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Mixing the wet ingredients together

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The dry ingredients

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Mixing the dry ingredients in

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The daily zucchini harvest

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One grated zucchini

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The mix ready to bake

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When you run out of muffin papers half way through…just make some from baking paper and keep on spooning

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They came out OK

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Even the ones in make-shift papers

I am sure this cooking thing is just a passing phase born from having so much produce in the garden, bear with me, it will be over soon.

Making sourdough bread

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The starter is finally ready to make bread. Sourdough starters take time and feeding to grow a strong and healthy community of yeasts.  Pancakes, muffins, doughnuts and crumpets are all possible before the starter is mature but you have to wait a while before making bread or it simply won’t rise,

I went looking for a simple and (relatively) quick method this time, as part of the reason I don’t make a lot of bread is the time factor, especially while I am working. I found this You Tube video and it is amazingly easy to follow.

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Day seven starter, ready to make bread

The basic recipe

3 cups of flour (plain flour, bread flour, spelt, rye, it doesn’t seem to matter)

1 cup water (plus a little dash more sometimes)

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

Sourdough starter

Just mix the flour, water and salt together into a dough. Watch the You Tube video to get the knead-in-the-bowl technique, it does make things less messy. When the dough is a sticky mass that sort of sticks together cover it and leave sitting on the bench (or in an esky with cooler bricks like she does on the video).

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My sticky mess….er…mass of dough

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Covered over and left on the bench while I go out and rake leaves

After the bread has risen to about double the size of the original lump it is time to knead it a little bit more. Once again I used the knead-in-the-bowl method. It is also time to find a Dutch oven or a big baking dish with a lid (a camp oven would be ideal), you could also use a bread tin for the second rise.

I kneaded the dough for about two minutes then I plonked it out onto a piece of baking paper that had been sprayed with water and lifted it into a bowl to rise…again.

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The big yellow thing is an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, it’s a heavy piece of equipment

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My dough on wet baking paper rising in its bowl

After a few more hours sitting on the bench (covered of course), the dough had risen to roughly double the original size again. I preheated the Dutch oven to about 200 degrees Celsius then put the dough into it, still on the baking paper. I baked the dough for 30 minutes with the lid on the Dutch oven then took the lid off and baked it for another 15 minutes to get a brown crust.

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The final loaf

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Close up of the final loaf

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It made a fine textured, very flavourful bread

Making bread takes time, but not a lot of effort. Most of the action happens in the quiet bowl lurking in the dark corner of the bench. This is one of the easiest methods I have found so far. I think this will be my go-to recipe for this cycle of bread eating at least. Hopefully I can find time to make bread during the working week as it makes lunches so much easier to organise.

Things to do with sourdough starter

I don’t eat a lot of bread, because the rest of my family prefer that foam rubber white stuff. I really don’t like the flavour or texture of white bread so I just do without most of the time. I do like the flavour and texture of sour dough bread and it is really easy to make too. When I am in the mood for bread I make myself a sour dough starter and make bread every few days. I am usually the only one who eats it (besides the chooks that is) but it is still worth the effort. My starters tend to go great for a few months then die from neglect in the back of the fridge when my bread craving passes. I thought I would do a post documenting the process of making a bread starter and making bread using it so the life and inevitable death of yet another starter isn’t in vain.

Making a starter

It’s as easy as mixing up a half cup of bread flour with a half cup of warmish water and leaving it on a kitchen bench (away from insects and critters) covered with a damp tea towel. If you need precise measurements you can find them here, but they really don’t have to be precise. I can see that the discovery of bread came from a happy accident made by a less than fastidious cook at some point in human history; maybe someone left flat bread dough out and forgot about it, decided to use it anyway and discovered that it tastes better that way. So much of our staple foods seem to be created by being left to their own devices.

I have read a few posts about starting the yeast with pineapple juice to kick start the yeast production (something about acidic conditions and extra sugar); I don’t have pineapple, but I do have apple so here we go on another experiment (I just can’t follow a recipe to the letter can I?). Apple juice isn’t particularly acidic but it is sugary, so to counter that I decided to add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (that was sitting in the pantry).

So the starter recipe is;

1/2 cup organic plain flour

1/2 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Dump it all into a seal-able jar and mix it up well. Leave it on the kitchen bench covered with something.

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Ingredients collected

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The starter all mixed up and ready to go

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Day one

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It can sit up on a shelf away from animals (maybe not flying ones though) next to my sprout jar

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Day three

On day three I start to see bubbles in the mix so I fed it with a quarter of a cup of flour and a dash of water (just enough to keep it liquid). Then back on the shelf it goes. Maybe on day four I can divide the starter and use it to make something (it’s not bubbly enough to make bread yet but maybe some pancakes?).

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Day five…yes, I forgot to take a photo when I fed the starter on day four

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This is a photo of the side of the jar (badly lit), you can see the bubbles go right through the starter

On day five I decide it is time to make the baby starter work for a living (and I hate throwing away half the mix every time I feed it), I decided to make sour dough doughnuts. I have made these from spare starter for a few years now, I  don’t make them often, but often enough to be considered a staple recipe. I use the recipe I found here.

The recipe is in two parts; the first afternoon you mix the basic dough and leave it overnight. The recipe says leave it on the counter, but since one of the ingredients is milk the fridge is a better place for the covered bowl in our hot Australian climate.

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This is the dough mix after sitting in the fridge overnight. You can see that the yeast has done a great job starting the rising process

I totally forgot to take photos of the doughnut making; all I did was spoon the mix into oiled doughnut pans and bake them at about 200 degrees Celsius (the recipe is in Fahrenheit). Then I rolled the little darlings in cinnamon sugar and left them to cool. They didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, but they taste really good.

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Next time I make them I think I will leave them to rise a little in the doughnut pans before cooking. The starter can be moved to the fridge and only taken out to feed it or make something. Bread is the next thing on the menu…..next post.