A lot of people have been baking these days and there’s a lot of bread chat going on. This time, we move into the magical world of sourdough – the true alchemy of making bread out of thin air.
There are some great online instructions sharing the steps involved in developing your own wild yeast starter colony and different ways of baking sourdough loaves, so I’m not going to insult your Google abilities by rehashing those. What I do want to share is an awesome sourdough bread machine recipe I’ve developed and some delicious ways to cook your discard.
I love 100% sourdough loaves.... but I’m also a big fan of my bread machine.
I love 100% sourdough loaves and the sense of achievement that comes from making something with such depth of flavour, but I’m also a big fan of my bread machine. So it was inevitable that I developed a sourdough recipe that allows you to enjoy the taste (and increased nutritional whack) in a more efficient way. Simply replacing some of the commercial yeast you use in a normal bread machine loaf with the wild yeast from your starter gives a consistent, no-fuss rise to a loaf that is a bit chewier, tastier and healthier than your current daily bread.
This a great way to still eat sourdough when you don’t have the time for a purist, hands-on sourdough loaf. Now you can save your basket-imprinted loaf for a special show-off occasion!
You can have a fresh sourdough loaf every day without any fuss, and if you put on a loaf every day or two, you’ll never have to discard any of your starter (as you’ll be constantly using it).
Bread machine sourdough
(amounts for a small bread machine, in this case a Zojirushi BB-HAQ10. If your bread machine is larger, you may need greater amounts to properly fill the bowl )
- 105g water
- 150g active sourdough starter
- 200g bread flour
- 15g honey
- 15g oil
- 35g mixed seeds
- 10g sea salt
- 2g dry active yeast
Simply follow the normal order of adding the ingredients into your bread machine, then turn on the machine and be amazed!
- I use filtered water, but tap water is fine too.
- Bread flour is sometimes labelled as strong white flour, but not all-purpose flour or plain/white flour.
- I use extra-virgin olive oil, but any type of fat is fine.
- The starter will stay at the active/ready-to-use stage for 1–2 days in the fridge. You should do the float test (see notes below) as you are adding the starter to the water in your machine to check that it is still good to use.
- If using the timer function for an overnight loaf, ensure that the salt and yeast are not touching each other or the water.
Helpful notes for your starter:
- After using 150g starter for this recipe, replace with 80g bread flour and 80g water. Mix well and leave at room temperature for 2–4 hours (or until it becomes active) and refrigerate. This means that if you regularly only use your starter for this recipe, you won’t ever have any wastage.
- Make sure you never use more than 75% of your starter. After feeding, you should keep a minimum 200g starter.
- You will need an active starter for bread machine sourdough. It should be bubbly and thick and pass the float test (it should float when you put a bit into water); this is normally around 2–4 hours after feeding it. The less active your starter, the less rise you’ll get.
- If you are keeping your sourdough at 50-50 water to flour (aka, 100% hydration), which I strongly recommend, you can experiment by substituting 50g water and 50g flour from any yeasted bread recipe with 100g active sourdough starter and seeing how it affects things. You may need to adjust the starter, salt and yeast to control the resulting rise through trial and error.
But what if you don’t bake regularly? What about the “discard” issue? Well, you can use that discard in loads of ways to avoid chucking it down the sink.
In order to keep your starter healthy, it needs regular feeding with flour and water. And if you’re not baking with it every week, you will end up with an ever-increasing amount of starter, so you’ll discard most of your starter and just feed the small amount required to keep your colony thriving. The part you toss out is known as the discard, and there are endless things you can do with it.
Basically, any recipe that uses flour and some liquid can take some of your discard, and although it won’t add much rise (since it’s no longer active), it will bring the probiotic benefits of a fermented food and a sour taste to your recipe. Some of my favourite discard recipes are sourdough lemon drizzle cake, sourdough Yorkshire puddings, spiked English muffins and a jazzed-up pizza dough with a sourdough funk.
I’ve tried all sorts of things with my discard, even frying it naked in a pan to make tiny pancakes for smoked- salmon-topped blinis for a picnic lunch – though, admittedly, they were pretty sour!
This blini recipe is a slightly gentrified version of that experiment and surely one of the easiest ways to use up any discard.
Sourdough discard blinis
- 100g discard (inactive sourdough starter)
- 125g plain flour
- 90g milk (lukewarm) + 75g milk (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg white, whisked to stiff peaks
- Mix together the discard, plain flour, 90g milk and sugar and leave for 10 minutes in a covered bowl at Hong Kong room temperature.
- Add the egg yolk, salt and 75g milk and, finally, gently fold in the egg white until smooth.
- Rest the mixture for 10 minutes before frying blinis in your choice of size (two minutes on side one, one minute on side two for mini ones).
- You can make small, canapé-size blinis or bigger breakfast blinis to serve with your favourite toppings.
- The longer you rest the mix at each stage, the lighter these blinis will be.
- When using discard for any recipe, the longer it’s been left since the last feed, the more sour it will be.
- You can adjust the salt and sugar in your blinis depending on what you’re serving them with.
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