On our recent trip to the Coast, we visited the Otis Cafe, as we almost always do. (I think we missed once, because the Cafe was closed by the time we got there.)
They have the most wonderful homemade baked goods, especially their signature breads, the whole-wheat sourdough, and the black molasses bread.
I asked if I could buy some starter. The waitress didn’t even blink — perhaps it’s a more common request than I thought.
I brought my sourdough starter home and started its care. (Glass jar, don’t touch it with metal, feed it daily with water and flour. I didn’t discard any of it for a few days, because I was building up enough starter to make pancakes.)
So far, so good. It bubbles vigorously every time I add more flour, but by the next day it’s only a little bubbly, and a layer of “hooch” is rising to the top. Still, adding flour and water and stirring seems to be just what the starter wants. If we go on vacation, I’ll need to feed it and put it in the refrigerator. The friend who gave me my last starter (which I managed to kill before I got a chance to bake with it) told me recently that it can go up to a week without feeding, in the fridge.
I found a sourdough pancake recipe here that uses just starter and no additional flour. It takes two cups of starter, which is why I needed to build up my starter for a few days.
The pancake recipe turned out more like crepes than pancakes, thin and tender. There’s an odd flavor that I attribute to the olive oil in the recipe. I only use olive oil in savory recipes, not sweet, and so my family wasn’t expecting it in pancakes. One of them said the pancakes reminded her of the taste of crispy chicken skin!
I think next time I make these pancakes I’ll try melted butter or coconut oil instead of olive oil.
Our pet starter is freshly fed and bubbling away on the counter. Perhaps in a day or two we’ll try our hand at sourdough bread!
By the way, an excellent non-sourdough bread recipe is here. I was looking for an easy bread recipe for Middlest to use for her first solo at bread baking. (Our usual One Hour Dinner Bread recipe from the La Leche League cookbook uses several tablespoons of yeast, and I could see that yeast could get spendy if the baking bug were to bite one or more of the girls, so I went looking for a large-yield recipe that uses less yeast.) She helped me with the recipe once, we were very pleased with the flavor, and she made it by herself, start to finish, yesterday. This is a very forgiving recipe. It’s not supposed to rise seven or so times — but she kept punching it down and then wandering off and forgetting it. When she finally shaped it, let it rise a last time, and baked it, it turned out fine.
If you try this 4-loaf bread recipe, don’t worry about the seemingly large amount of salt. It needs every speck to taste right.
So far, with this recipe, we’ve made loaves, cinnamon rolls, and dinner rolls. With four loaves worth of dough, we can make a variety and freeze some for later. As a matter of fact, we ate some of the cinnamon rolls for our camping breakfast last weekend. Yum!