It’s ALIVE! Part 2: “Feed the B!tch”

Fermented foods (and drinks) are fabulous! I was recently given a homemade sourdough starter by a friend. As he sat in my fridge, breathing through the air-holes in his jar, I contemplated (and pinned) the various delicious baked goodies I could make. English muffins, coffee cake, sourdough bread! Finally, I settled on some big-ass sourdough rounds. Seriously, one of them ended up bigger than my head! Good job, little starter! Once I had measured out the cup of starter needed to make the bread, I had to do what’s known as “feeding the b!tch”. That is, add some water, flour, and a sweetener to the jar of starter so it will continue to live & ferment and make you more delicious sourdough goodies! It’s also a good idea to do this every week or so when you’re not using your starter. To replenish your starter, you’ll need:

  • 3/4C water (not too hot)
  • 3/4C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey

Stir the above into the existing jar of starter until combined. Cover with cheesecloth, or a lid with holes poked to allow “breathing”. Let stand at room temperature for about a day and a half. Store in the refrigerator.

Here’s a video of me “feeding the b!tch”.

Big-As-My-Head Sourdough Rounds

(adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 1C sourdough starter (for some starter recipes, check out my It’s ALIVE! board on Pinterest)
  • about 6C all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp if you’re using a jar) active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few swigs of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Stir your starter & allow 1C to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
  2. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with the yeast and set aside.
  3. Combine 1 1/2C of water, sugar, butter, and salt until warm and butter is nearly melted. (It’s very important that this mixture not be too hot, or it could kill the yeast!)
  4. Add water mixture to dry mixture in mixer bowl. Add starter. Beat using mixer fitted with a dough hook for about 30 seconds on medium speed, scrape down the bowl, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with baking soda, and add to dough mixture. Add all the remaining flour until combined and knead in the mixer (that’s why we’re using a dough hook) for about 6-8 mins until a firm ball of dough is achieved.
  6. Place the dough ball in a bowl coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (I usually use my stove top area) to rise for at least 45 minutes. The dough will double in size.
    Before first rise...

    Before first rise…

    After first rise...

    After first rise…

  7. After 45 minutes, punch down the dough, divide in half, cover, and rest for about 10 minutes.
  8. Form dough into 2 rounds, tucking any scruffy bits underneath. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. (These will get BIG. You may want to use 2 separate baking sheets.) Make a criss-crossed slash across the top of each round to prevent cracking. Cover & allow to rise a second time, for about 30 minutes.

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking...

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking…

  9. Bake in a 375F oven for about 35 minutes per loaf, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.

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