Three months ago, when you know COVID 19 decided that we all needed some time off, I, like many others got on the sourdough bandwagon. I am not a baker. I am a cook - I like to get creative in the kitchen and definitely don’t like following rules. I must admit the easiest part here was the starter - way easier than having my other two children. 6 days of easy labor and feeds every morning, and my third child Becky was born. Becky is my easiest child and an absolute angel; we feed her once a week and she will feed us for life. I wish I could get away by feeding my other two kids just flour and water too 😆.
You know who gets excited every time we leave Becky out for a feed - our helper Marissa. She goes, “Look Maam, Becky is breathing!” A neighbor overheard her through our kitchen window the other day and looked really concerned.
I was ready to bake and not just loaves - those have definitely been the biggest challenge which I see myself working on for the rest of my life, for no two loaves have been the same so far. And oh my, have I been longing to see those ears. What I have really enjoyed though is creating flatbreads with the discard - spiced pancakes, kimchi pancakes, Okonomiyaki, Jian Bing, Rotis, Naan... Best part has been to humor the family by putting the word “sourdough” in front of everything I make. My daughter says if I have another child 👶, I might name him/her “Sourdough Starter” 😂
Here is a little guide to how you can create your owner starter. I have used 50% bread flour and 50% whole-wheat flour for my starter, for best results. Hope you give it a try and as always, leave any questions you may have in comments.
Day 1: Start with 50g bread flour + 50g whole wheat flour + 100g water - stir well, I leave it loosely covered in a glass jar for 24 hours.
Day 2: You will see the batter start to ferment after 24 hours and double in size. Feed the bacteria and wild yeast in it with the same amount of flour and water - add 50g bread flour + 50g whole wheat flour + 100g water to the jar, stir well and set aside, loosely covered for another 24 hours.
Day 3: Same as day 2. Feed your fermented batter again with the same amount of flour and water - 50g bread flour + 50g whole wheat flour + 100g water, stir and cover.
Day 4: Set aside most of the fermented batter, leaving 2-3 tablespoons batter in the jar. Add 50g bread flour + 50g whole wheat flour + 100g water to the jar, stir well and set aside again for 24 hours. Don’t throw away the discard. The leftover batter you set aside can be used to make any of the delicious sourdough discard recipes below.
Day 5: same as day 4. Leave 2-3 tablespoons of fermented batter in the jar and feed it with - 50g bread flour + 50g whole wheat flour + 100g water. Stir well, set aside. Use leftover batter for pancakes etc.
Day 6: same as day 4 and 5.
Day 7: same as day 4, 5 and 6. On day 7, I usually wait for the batter to double in size (3-4 hours after the feed) and use it to make bread.
Any leftover starter on day 7 can be refrigerated and will need feeding just once a week. In cooler weather, I usually feed my starter the night before I want to make bread. In warm weather like in Singapore, I feed the starter in the morning, wait for a few hours for it to double in volume, then use it in my bread recipe. Leftover starter goes back in the fridge. Excess sourdough discard can be used to make any of the wonderful recipes below.
IT'S RECIPE TIME!!
Payal Thakurani is a cooking instructor, consulting chef, and author of the popular Southeast Asian cookbook “Curries for the Soul”. Originally based in Shanghai China, chef Payal has been in the food industry since 2012, working in training and brand development in central kitchens. She was also the proud owner of a cooking school and several food brands in Shanghai. She now lives in Singapore and heads Commune Kitchen in Downtown Gallery, where she hosts affordable, hands-on cooking classes for all ages.