Sourdough Groove

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!

This is my submission to the What’s on your Plate Challenge hosted by Donna & Deb. Jump over to the InLinkz party for tasty ideas of what they & other bloggers have on their plates.

23 Comments

  1. Sandy, this is gorgeous! Nice save with the VWG. It does help kick up the structure when using softer wheat, but I agree that there’s a learning curve in figuring out the formulas. I’m a big fan of Maurizio Leo as well. Have you pre-ordered his new baking book? It is supposed to be released this Tuesday in the U.S.; not sure about Canada.

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    1. Ha Ha. Sometimes it does seem like a cult. Some people take it very seriously. Do you make sourdough bread Amanda? I seem to recall you saying you used to make bread with fresh yeast. That’s a sign of a serious baker. Nowadays only commercial bakeries or cooking schools would use fresh yeast – it has such a short shelf life.

      All the same, I glad to have my sourdough groove back. Homemade beats anything store-bought!

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  2. Spectacular Crostata! I am glad you were able to fix your flour issues – I’ve only recently come to realise that not all flours are created equal …

    I raise a SD starter – but not for SD breads per se; at least not the traditional rabbit eared, big-holed, sought-after crusted loaves which are ornately scored. I use my SD starter almost solely for discard bakes – pitas, pancakes, augment flavours on breads, my favourite carrot cake recipe, etc.

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    1. That’s a novel approach Ju-Lyn. Is there a reason why you don’t use it to make bread? I admit that I was never a fan of the classic sourdough with its big holes, hard crust and heavy sour taste. The classic San Francisco loaf was my first encounter and it turned me off for years. However, I’ve found my balance and I make a sourdough that I find tasty enough to eat regularly.

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    1. Sarah, when you make a sourdough starter you have to tip some out as you feed it every day, otherwise, you would end up with a weakened sourdough or an enormous amount of starter, I believe. Thus, the starter that you discard can be make up into pancakes and various other items. Nothing needs to be wasted.

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    2. So sorry I didn’t explain Sarah. Mentally I had replied but I guess WordPress didn’t transmit it! Thanks to Amanda for clarifying sourdough discard to you. I hope you sleep better now that you know 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Sandi – Your opening photo demonstrates everything that I love about food photography. Artistic, creative, well-planned and you successfully have made me want to run out and have a Blueberry Peach Crostata stat! I’m sorry that our Western Flour has been giving you grief! 😦

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    1. No worries on the flour, all the other good stuff makes up for it! The delicious fresh peaches, blueberries and something called Saskatoon berries which I’ve heard of but never seen before. All good.

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  4. Oh boy, does that ever look good! I do bake the occasional loaf – not sourdough but a yeast dough that I let rise for at least 18 hours. I would love to try sourdough someday…perhaps when I have a kitchen again. Right now the old one is ripped out and the new one waiting to be installed. Thanks, Sandy! 💕

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