I found myself experimenting with sourdough starter yesterday – more specifically, the discard you typically toss when you feed your starter, to prevent it from turning into sourzilla and taking over your kitchen. Sourdough loaves are generally baked at a specific point in the feeding cycle, when the starter is at its most robust, but often when you’re discarding half, you’re not necessarily ready to bake bread, or it may be too weak and not have the leavening power to leaven a whole loaf. It still seems like a waste to throw it away though – and it has all the sour tang of sourdough, so I thought I’d stir some into a batch of biscuits. Not to rely on for their lift, but to add flavour and make use of the discard, which has the same consistency as buttermilk or cream. Verdict: I’m calling it a win.

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I get the sense that sourdough starters are starting to come back into fashion – for the most part, it’s the bakers and chefs who nurture their bubbling little jars, texting each other about feeding schedules and storage advice. I started some new starter earlier this summer – the batch I had, with a backup tucked away in the back of the freezer, finally gave up due to neglect. I got them going, and then left town – and on the way back from Tofino, we detoured through Edmonton, popping in to Prairie Gardens farm in Bon Accord, where chef Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton of Rge Rd cook farm dinners, they teach classes using the wood-fired cobb oven – pizza, charred salads with tomatoes, arugula and beans and beans from the garden, things like charred greens, braised leeks and Brussels sprouts, roasted herbs, quick pickles, bannock, cooked on a stick over the fire, pastry for spiced apple empanadas and galettes. Christine Sandford is oneContinue reading

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