I’m back in my sourdough groove. I’d lost it for a while and given it up. Although I’d successfully recreated my starter here in B.C, the sourdough breads I’d made were underwhelming.
I blame it on the flour. Unless I paid x4 more per kilo and purchased 22kg bags of bread flour, I had to use the local brand of all-purpose. Unfortunately, the local brand seems to be a softer wheat, which in bread-making parlance means less gluten and less satisfying breads. After a string of so-so sourdoughs, I reverted to enriched straight breads.
A couple weeks ago I discovered something which brought me back on track. A ‘trick’ to making soft wheat flour harder is to add vital wheat gluten (VWG.) Gluten percentage in all-purpose flour is typically 8-11% , while bread flour is 12-14%. The near overlap of the higher and lower ranges explains why some all-purpose flours work fine in bread. The all-purpose flour in Toronto (in Central Canada) must fall in this category, as I can make a 1:1 substitution there with almost no difference.
In Western Canada I suspect that the flour blends are slightly different. Although I’d tried my ‘trick’ of adding VWG to bump up the percentage, it hadn’t made any noticeable effect. After a bit of scrutiny, I realised that I’d mis-keyed the percentage in my formula. Instead of adding 2% VWG, I’d been adding 0.2%. No wonder the VWG hadn’t made an impact, it was hardly there!
This minor adjustment made a world of difference. Now I’m back on my regular routine of baking sourdough once or twice a week.
All of which means that I now have the problem familiar to sourdough bakers everywhere. How to use up the sourdough discard?
Here is my latest favorite way to use discard: Blueberry Peach Crostata. It’s a rustic but spectacular dessert that is perfect with or without vanilla ice cream.
The crostata pastry is easy to pull together in a food processer and makes a sturdy but tasty base for the pie. I like the combination of berries with fresh peaches but any fruit will do. I suspect that it’d make a fine savory pie, maybe with goat cheese, fresh thyme and tomatoes? That will be my next project!
For the recipe and technique, here’s the FOOD52 article by Maurizio Leo. I read the recipe first in Maurizio’s site but he’s a hard-core sourdough baker and it’s a bit much for casual reading. If you’re into sourdough baking though, his website, The Perfect Loaf is very good.
Are you a bread baker? Sourdough or otherwise? What’s your favorite way of using up bread? or sourdough discard? I’m looking for ideas on what to try next … after my cheese & tomato pie!