Welcome to the rest of your life. Well, until I kill you.
Listen, it won’t be intentional and you should know that I have three pre-teen and teenage children who are not only alive but also thriving, so I do have it in me to keep living things alive. I feel hopeful and I hope you do too.
Are you actually living yet? When does the life of a sourdough starter begin?
Today I combined whole flour and white flour and then took an equal amount of that and combined it with water. I’ve stirred you up, tucked you into a jar and covered you loosely with a kitchen towel. I’ll have you know that I chose a brand new tea towel gifted to me for Christmas from a dear friend. I thought you’d appreciate not inhaling a stained kitchen towel reserved for dirty hands and spills.
In an attempt to understand you better I watched several YouTube videos about your proper care and maintenance. It seems that there are many different thoughts on how to bring you to life. I’m going with equal parts (by weight) flour (all purpose and whole wheat) and water. Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery is my guide and things have worked out quite well for him and his sourdough. So I’m confident we can do this.
If we want this to work, and I think we both do, then I’m going to have to keep it simple. I know myself well enough now to admit that I need simple. Particularly when everything else outside of your glass jar home feels complicated.
Can I be honest? I’m concerned I've already messed you up. Just like in parenting I’m always worried I could have done it better. I should have used better flour; the organic, local stuff I buy when my life feels a bit more ordered and I can handle multiple grocery stops or wait for it to ship from a little town an hour out of the city. Instead you're made with some Costco flour, mixed with some whole grain flour I found lingering in the pantry and what little I had left of the “good stuff”.
Yesterday, while learning more about you and the science behind you, I learned that yeast doesn’t come from the air around you like I had previously thought but rather it comes from the actual flour. What if I’m bringing to life lackluster yeast?
I guess in parenting and in sourdough you just do the best you can and hope it’s enough.
You’re alive! I see bubbles and you smell a bit sour. You’re definitely waking up and figuring out your new life. You’ve been fed.
I forgot to feed you yesterday. See, my kids would never allow that. Have you ever heard the term “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? I want you to think about that as you digest breakfast today. And I’m sorry. You’re alive and well and getting stronger everyday. You deserve some attention.
I think you’re ready to bake!
You’re bubbly and standing tall in the glass. You smell sweet and slightly funky (I mean that in the best way).
Last night you helped me feed my family. I feed you and you feed us. A lesson in reciprocity right in my kitchen.
I’m really quite proud of this thing we have going, you and I. You demand so little of me and yet in return you bake up into stunning bread with a sweet tang and a texture that is both tender and crisp with a pleasant pull.
Not wanting to waste any of you, I turned yesterday's growth into tortillas.
Thank you for helping me create a taste memory for my daughter who is home sick. She’ll never forget the warm tortilla slathered in butter and showered in cinnamon sugar.
Now, let’s go make some biscuits together, shall we?
Of course making bread is a perfectly great way to use your starter but I am often in search of all the ways the discard can be used. Very little isn’t improved with the sweet, sour tang of a sourdough starter.
Adapted from piesandtacos.com
Makes about 20 - 30 tortillas, depending on the size
1/2 cup / 125 g sourdough starter (it’s best to use the starter you discard before the next feed)
1 1/3 cup / 320 g warm water
1/4 cup / 60 g vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 cups / 640 g all-purpose flour
Plus extra flour for dusting
Add all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Mix on low until everything is well combined then increase the speed to medium low and knead for at least 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticking to the side of the bowl add a little more flour. If, while mixing the dough looks dry add a touch more water but do so gingerly, often a dough can appear dry and crumbly and then once fully mixed it hydrates.
Cover and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into roughly 30 - 50 gram balls (somewhere in between a golf ball and a tennis ball), using flour to prevent it from sticking.
Heat a skillet over medium heat for five minutes. I prefer to use cast iron as it heats evenly.
Roll out one of the dough balls into a rough 6 - 7 inch circle. Place the dough on the griddle and turn the heat down to low. Allow to cook for 2 minutes before flipping and continue to cook on the other side for another 1 - 2 minutes. While the tortilla cooks I work on rolling out the next one. Continue until all the tortillas are cooked.
I like to place cooked tortillas in a lidded container so they sort of steam and soften and keep warm while the others cook.
If you’d like to only cook a few, the dough can be refrigerated overnight. Just allow the dough time to warm up as cold dough is much harder to roll.
Be sure to eat one warm tortilla slathered with butter and cinnamon sugar. Roll it up like a taquito and take in that sweet, simple joy.
I love this too, fun dialogue with sourdough.
I love this!