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As a new feature on Cooking Traditional Foods, every Wednesday afternoon we’re going to feature one of our most popular posts from the past. There are many great articles and recipes in the archives and we hope you’ll find some new favorites.
I have tried and tried to make sourdough the ‘traditional’ way, in the way Nourishing Traditions describes in its sourdough recipe. I have let my starter sit out and fed and stirred it faithfully, time and time again, only to have it get moldy and fail after a period of time unless I kept it in the refrigerator. Maybe it’s because I live in the humid South, who knows the reason. But I have never been able to get sourdough to the point where I could bake with it and have it out on the counter so I could produce enough to use it daily. Keeping it in the fridge just resulted in too many jars to be able to keep up with the demand of daily baking, it soured so slowly.
That is, until I tried the method Lozt Nausten, one of the moderators on the CTF forum, recommended in her wonderful sourdough bread recipe. If you are gluten-free and you need a regular bread, I strongly suggest you look at her four versions of sourdough, including the grain-free and egg-free versions. I have tried every version of her recipe and have enjoyed them all.
Using kefir made with apple juice instead of water to make the sourdough starter speeds the process up considerably and gives the starter a major boost of beneficial bacteria to ward off mold. You can use the starter in as little as 24 hours if you want a very mild flavor. Allowing it to go longer while feeding it daily creates a stronger sourdough flavor.
You can use any fermentable flour to make sourdough. Nuts and starches, like coconut, almond, tapioca starch and the like, will not ferment and can not be used for the starter but they are fine as an ingredient in the dough. If you need a grain-free starter, you can use bean flours to make your starter. In fact, on Lozt Nausten’s blog, you’ll see a grain-free recipe that uses bean flour to make the starter.
Sourdough pizza crust, ready to be baked
To make your starter, combine equal amounts of a flour of your choice and apple juice kefir. 2/3 cup flour and 2/3 cup apple juice kefir makes 1 cup of starter. Leave it on the counter for 24 hours. If you need a mild sourdough, use it to bake at that point. If you want a stronger flavor, feed it more and let sit longer.
If you need to take a break from using the starter, stash it in the fridge and feed it once a week. I use my starter to make pancakes, pizza, bread and much more. In the coming weeks, we’ll be going over a variety of recipes and techniques to help you add sourdough to your meals.
Image adapted from Pauline Mac on flickr