Friday, August 5, 2011

Sourdough Biscuits

I have played with sourdough in the past. I have caught wild yeasts and once a friend shared a bit of her starter that she received from her friend in Alaska. But sourdough takes time, and when I was working I didn't have enough spare time to devote to it. The cool thing about sourdough is, once you master its use, you don't have to buy commercial yeast for your baking. Sourdough is just a live yeast of a particular strain, that is being propagated in your mix of flour and water. You can catch a wild yeast (did you know there is yeast all around you?), but that is a crap shoot. You could catch one that tastes really good, or really bad. It is better to start with a strain that you know tastes good. You can get a bit of starter from a friend, mail order some dried starter, or use commercial yeast and let it revert to its wild state. I chose to do the latter. In the past I have caught wild yeasts, and they were pretty good, but I have too many yeasts in my air. Beer, wine and kombucha yeasts, as well as others. Who knows what I'd end up with?

2 1/4 tsp. (or one package) yeast
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 TBS. honey

Mix it up in a non-metal container which has plenty of room for the mixture to more than double. Cover it with a cotton cloth secured with a rubber band and leave it in a warm place for a couple of days. It should expand and become filled with bubbles. And it will begin to smell sour. You can then put it in your refrigerator, with a lid that is not screwed down tightly. The yeast needs to breathe. This is now your starter. Use it according to your recipes. 2 cups of starter really isn't much. To expand it, put it into a larger container and add 2 cups of flour and about 1 3/4 cups of water. Stir it well, loosely cover it with the cloth and let it sit out on your counter again until it is sour and bubbly. Then put it back into the fridge. It's that easy.

(these are more like a cross between a biscuit and a roll)

2 cups sourdough starter
1/4 cup corn oil
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 TBS. sugar
1 TBS. Baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12" cast iron skillet

Let your starter sit out, covered, until it is active and bubbly. Don't worry if you don't get to it right away. The starter used for these biscuits (pictured) was on my counter for 2 days before I got a chance to use it. Mix the oil into your starter. Then sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Stir well with a wooden spoon, until you have incorporated all the flour and have a stiff dough. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it a bit. Doesn't have to be much. About 10 to 15 times. Place the dough back into a bowl, cover it and let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven, just a bit, and turn on the interior light. You want it to be warm enough for the dough to rise, but don't let it get hot. Turn the oven off once the oven is warm, and close the door. Leave the light on. Put about a TBS. of corn oil into your skillet and coat it well. Once your dough has rested, break off egg sized chunks, roll into a ball and place in the skillet, leaving a bit of room for expansion.

Place the skillet into the warmed oven
and let the biscuits rise for 30 minutes.

Leave to skillet in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Now bake the biscuits for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. You can enjoy them with some butter and jam, or use them as rolls with your evening meal. They are very versatile.

I almost forgot to add an action shot.
These went right into my belly after the photo shoot.

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