First of all, say the title fast five times. Go on! I dare you!
Ok, now that we have that out of the way…
It’s high time that I introduced you to Luther!
Luther is my sourdough starter. He’s been percolating on my counter for a few year now, the latest in a line of starters that I’ve tried to keep alive – and so far the most successful. Starters can be temperamental; most have died through neglect (they tend to get moldy and disgusting if you don’t use them regularly). And of course, each of the previous starters were named also (inspired by Sweet Herman, who was going around a few decades ago); there has been Zinzendorf, Erasmus and Calvin – all named after reformers.
Each has a distinct character. The flavor is effected by weather and ingredients, how often you attend to them, and other nameless factors. Luther is surprisingly sweet and good tempered, assertive yet pleasant; and curiously seems to get sweeter with a little neglect.
To make your own (a fun hobby!), just mix:
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups of (unsalted) water used to boil potatoes
- 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
- a drizzle of honey
Leave in a covered glass bowl for a week so that it collects natural yeast from the atmosphere. Or, buy a special jar for it like I did!
After a week, you can use it to make all kinds of recipes – bread, biscuits, cupcakes, pancakes. The starter must be used on a weekly basis (otherwise, you know, mold and stuff…); with every use, feed the starter with a cup of water and a cup of white flour. I do make an exception and use only white flour for this, since wheat flour doesn’t behave as well.
By the way, don’t let the might-get-moldy part turn you off. This whole process is a bit of a science project – yeast is a fungus which makes bread rise by expelling gases, etc. That’s part of the fun of baking; making something delicious out of what belongs in a lab! The results are lovely.
And there you go! Go on, make up a batch of starter, and next week I’ll share one of my favorite recipes!