As you already know (IF you’ve seen my previous posts about it) I’m taking an eCourse from GNOWFGLINS on traditional foods. Well, in total there are FIVE eCourses that I have access to. I’m sort of bouncing between them all doing the lessons that I have the supplies for first.
The one lesson I’ve been somewhat struggling with was creating a sourdough starter. But after reading through the forums I found that it’s not an uncommon problem. So many factors are at play: humidity, temperature, flour used, etc… I started out trying to get a starter going with unbleached, organic white flour. That was an EPIC FAIL!
Two weeks ago we were finally able to get back over to the health food store so I scored some whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour (a.k.a. soft wheat) and some spelt flour. I read that spelt is a particular favorite of the sourdough organisms, so I gave that a try. BOY DID THAT EVER MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! Well, that and the addition of a little warmth to the jars. It’s been hella rainy here this spring so the house hasn’t been as hot as usual for this time of year. In fact, some days have been almost chilly. Crazy for Florida, I know!
Anyway….yesterday I decided that it was definitely time to use the starter. Here’s what I’m dealing with now:
Quite an active starter! When I fed the starter this morning it was only full up to the second line on the jar. A few short (and warm) hours later it was more than doubled. I’m very pleased!
I decided that the first thing I would make is Sourdough English Muffins. THIS recipe, in fact! Check out the link if you want the recipe and full details on what to do, I’ll not go into that in this post.
Go on….I’ll wait. The rest of my post will be a lot clearer if you read the full directions I was working with first….
Last night I did the first step of mixing the starter and flour with the liquid so it could sit (soak/sour) over night covered with a dish towel.
This morning after adding in all the remaining ingredients and allowing it to rest for an hour I realized that the initial recipe does not call for enough flour if you’re making these in hot, humid Florida. And in reading the comments on the original post I found that other people had the same problem. So I added a another half cup of flour, then divided the dough and shaped the muffins.
I didn’t want to add any additional un-soaked flour to them, for health reasons even though I had to already this morning, so I used oil on the parchment paper before laying them out on it.
At this point I covered them and allowed them to rest (and rise a little) for an hour before beginning the cooking process. Did you know that you don’t bake English muffins in the oven? Nope! They’re cooked on a skillet on the stovetop. I certainly had no idea!
It took a little bit to get the temperature of the pan just right. It was still a little warmer than I think it should be, but in the end I think they turned out fine for a first ever batch.
What I’ll do differently next time:
- Make sure to add the extra flour the night before so ALL the flour gets a chance to soak. But maybe try adding 1/4 cup extra at first, see whether or not they need more and go from there.
- Not use oil for them to rest on. I think they are a little more dense than I’d like them to be. Maybe the oil contributed to that or maybe it didn’t. But I will give flour on the resting surface a try next time to see if it makes a difference.
- Keep the burner turned down even further to allow the middle to cook a little longer before the outside browns. I think they are a little dark considering they will be toasted when eaten.
Other than that I’m very pleased with how they turned out. Not too shabby for my first try. But that’s how bread making goes….it’s not always perfect the first time you make it. At least my Sourdough English Muffins are edible! I’ve made other breads that turned out way too hard to be able to comfortably eat.
These are most assuredly going to be a weekly staple! I’ll double the recipe after I get it down pat though. I don’t think eight muffins are going to get us through a week’s worth of breakfasts.
Incidentally: I also have a 2nd jar of sourdough starter going. I used a New England Starter that I purchased from Cultures for Health. Both are doing really well. In fact, my wild caught starter is doing just as good as the starter I purchased. For my English Muffins I used my wild caught sourdough starter. Next time I’ll use the purchased one to see if we can detect a difference in taste.
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