Last fall, I attended one of Burns Wattie’s sourdough workshops at Karma, a terrific introduction to this ancient practice. Sadly, I waited too long to start baking and lost the starter (sorry, Burns!), but happily, someone on the Chronicle Committee shared her starter with me so I could try again (thanks, Morgan!).
I’ll be honest, it’s been a bumpy path. Apparently I’m not very good at following instructions – I haven’t managed to produce wonderful loaves of bread consistently, and the timing of the different steps keeps tripping me up. But the more I read about the human microbiome, fermented foods, and concerns with modern wheat flour, the more determined I am to master this skill.
If you have sourdough starter, you know you have to feed it regularly to keep it alive, tripling the volume each time. That means using it up by baking regularly or discarding quantities of starter. Fortunately, I found this muffin recipe online at Cultures for Health; it uses a cup of starter at a time and I find it much simpler and faster than making bread. Even better, my patient family members, who loyally eat the bread, love these muffins!
(This recipe is from www.culturesforhealth.com, except for my asterisked comment.)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas*
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
*I liberally substitute ingredients in everything I cook… feel free to use a cup of yogurt, sour cream, or sour milk (or fresh milk with a splash of apple cider vinegar) if you don’t have bananas. You can also add up to a cup of berries, rhubarb, diced apple or pear, or practically any fruits, seeds, or nuts – be creative!
At least 12 hours before you wish to bake them, combine sourdough starter and flour. It will make a very thick dough, so do not be alarmed. Cover and place in a warm spot to culture for 12 – 24 hours.
After 12 – 24 hours, preheat oven to 375°F. Combine sugar, banana, and egg in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the cultured dough. Gradually add the liquid ingredients, stirring just to combine.Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 375°F for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
by Amy Stein
First published in the The Chronicle (Summer 2016 )