As we’ve all been hunkering down at home a lot more since the beginning of quarantine, it only makes sense that we’ve been spending our extra time honing new skills to stay busy. At the top of the at-home hobby list? Baking— and specifically, baking sourdough.
Why Is Everyone Baking Sourdough?
Out of the millions of things we could be whipping up, sourdough quickly rose (pun intended) to popularity for a myriad of reasons.
First off, 2020 dealt us a heavy hand with this pandemic — and baking is something that keeps your hands and mind busy with a purpose, without digital distractions, while being stuck at home.
With sourdough bread specifically, you don’t need any yeast to bake it; rather, sourdough is made with a starter (“mother”) that’s literally just a combo of two ingredients: Flour and water. These cabinet staples come together to form a paste that becomes fermented by probiotic bacteria and wild yeast — this is the starter that eventually leavens your bread and gives it that signature “sour” flavor we know and love.
Also, if you’re in the minority and haven’t adopted a quarantine puppy yet, having a sourdough starter is akin to caring for a pet (no joke, some people even name their starters after celebrities). You have to “feed” it and discard some of it daily—when you tend to it, it expands, contracts, and moves like a living, breathing thing. You can even split up your discard into separate jars and give them to your friends and neighbors so they can bake loaves of “friendship bread” with it. Move over, Zoom happy hours — sourdough is the chosen no-contact “social” activity.
Yet another reason to join the sourdough crusade? Carbs — we love ’em and dang it, we deserve ’em this year. But even better, the sourdough fermentation process breaks down some of the gluten in the grain, making it much easier to digest than regular baker’s yeast.
If you don’t have a starter yet and are ready to get baking, this beginner’s sourdough starter recipe from The Clever Carrot is virtually foolproof.
Beyond The Loaf: Sourdough Everything!
Sure, bread is great — but chances are, you’ve been there and baked that in quarantine (or at least, your friends have tried to pawn their excess bread off on you). Sourdough is actually extremely versatile and can be the base for many yummy foods. These eight recipes will let you fly your creative flag in the kitchen and put your abundance of sourdough starter and discard to great use.
Sourdough pretzels are kind of like bread, but it takes way less time to make than a loaf — plus, rolling out the dough and twisting them into the signature pretzel shape is just plain fun. Top ’em off with salt, cinnamon, or sugar — and don’t forget to serve with an array of dipping sauces, from mustard, marinara sauce, to frosting.
Grab your rolling pin and your discard — it’s time to up the ante on Taco Tuesday with sourdough tortillas! They’re softer and more flavorful than the regular ’ol store-bought flour version. Plus, if you have extra tortillas, you can drizzle them with EVOO and some spices, toss them in the oven, and make yourself chips.
If you’re someone who can plan breakfast the night before, your discard can pull double duty and make delicious sourdough pancake and waffle batter. Just stir and combine your starter with buttermilk, flour, and sugar in a large bowl, then let it sit covered overnight at room temp. The next morning, you’ll add a few more ingredients and get cooking on your griddle or waffle iron.
Great news: Sourdough brownies are also a thing. Yes, regular brownies are good too, but when you use a little bit of your discard, it creates a fudgy, tangy twist on everyone’s favorite simple dessert.
OK, so sourdough banana bread is sort of still in the bread family — but something about using sourdough in this beloved confectionary loaf adds the perfect subtle-yet-interesting flavor that just takes it to the next level. Make sure you take your starter out of the fridge 12 hours before you begin baking.
Sourdough pizza crust: DIY pizza night just got slightly tangier and a lot more delicious. If you prefer just a hint of that signature sour flavor, feel free to doctor up your dough with honey, garlic, oregano, or other fun add-ins. Pointer: While your starter doesn’t need to be active to make this crust, make sure you’ve fed it in the last 12 to 24 hours.
Your morning cup of coffee’s new BFF: Sourdough biscotti. Made with discard that’s at 100% hydration (aka, one-to-one ratio of flour and water), this recipe leaves you some room for playing — feel free to add crushed almonds or dried fruits, or dip one end in chocolate after baking (because dessert for breakfast rules).
If you need a break from OD-ing on carbs, these chewy and soft sourdough granola bars are the ultimate nutritious snack — plus, they’re far more flavorful and natural than the store-bought brands. You’ll need a few extra ingredients like quinoa, dried fruit, walnuts, oats, and of course, chocolate chips, but the four-step recipe is beginner-friendly.