Thursday, March 4, 2010


I've been reading about the benefits of sourdough lately.  And since I've begun to tackle and expand my skills at bread-making - learning to make sourdough bread just seemed like the next logical step.

First I had to make a starter.  I followed the process from Breadtopia to make it.  It uses pineapple juice instead of water to initially get it started.  Evidently, there is something in the pineapple juice that prevents bad bacteria, while encouraging the good. 

The first step was to mix 3 1/2 TBSP. whole wheat flour with 1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice, cover it and set it aside for 48 hours at room temperature.  Stir it 2 to 3 times a day.

It doesn't look like much now, but hang in there.

The next step was to add 2 TBSP. whole wheat flour and 2 TBSP. pineapple juice after the first 48 hours have passed.  Once again, set aside (covered) for a day or two, remembering to stir a few times a day.

Beautiful tell-tale bubbles that signal fermentation is beginning!

The next step was to add 5 1/4 TBSP. whole wheat flour and 3 TBSP. purified water (from my fridge), cover and set aside for 24 hours.

Lastly, I added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 - 1/3 cup purified water.  I had a healthy starter at this point, so I transferred it to a crock that would hold more starter and easily allow me to get it out when I needed it.

Now, to keep it alive, all I have to do is feed it every day with a 1:1 ratio of flour and water.  It smells all yeasty and wonderful.

OK.  So, now that I had a healthy starter I needed to make something with it.  I turned to Sarah's Musings for this.  Sarah seems to have a really good handle on all things sourdough and she has a bunch of recipes on her site, too. 

The first thing I decided to try was her pizza dough.  We eat homemade pizza pretty regularly.  I usually make a whole wheat crust, but opted to shake things up a bit this time.  Here's Sarah's recipe a la Pam.


1 1/2 c. sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 TBSP. olive oil
water (optional)

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well, adding water or flour as necessary to make a soft dough.  (If you feed your starter with a 1:1 ratio of flour/water this shouldn't be necessary.)

Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is soft and elastic and is not sticky to the touch.  Form into a ball and let rise in an oiled bowl (covering dough on all sides with oil).  Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil and place in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.  I usually turn my oven on about 250 degrees and set the bowl on top of the oven.

After the kneading process.

The risen dough.

And, here is where I forgot got too busy to take more pictures.

Go ahead and get your oven pre-heating to 500 degrees.  If you have a baking stone, let it heat up as well.  I used 1 regular old metal pizza pan and 2 iron skillets.  I let the iron skillets pre-heat.

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into pieces to make your crusts.  It will make 2 - 12" crusts.  But, we all like our pizzas slightly different, so I cut mine into 3.  Whatever...just make yourself happy.  Cover the dough balls with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Use this time to gather/prepare your toppings. 

Roll the dough out to about a 1/4" thickness.  Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto your pans and then put the dough down.  Top them as you wish.

Bake pizzas for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and brown.  Remove and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

A few notes: 
I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup of  unbleached flour in my crust.

This was by far one of the best pizzas I've ever put in my mouth.  Remember the scene from "What About Bob?" when he was eating dinner with his therapist's family?  That's kind of what we felt like eating this pizza. 

I liked the fact that I didn't have to drag my heavy stand mixer out to make this crust like I do with the one I usually make.  I will be making this one from now on.

Tomorrow, I'll share my first attempt at making a sourdough sandwich bread.

Happy Homemaking!

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