Saturday, 9 October 2010


My friend Southy recently revealed that she has been making sourdough English muffins for breakfast. Well colour me impressed. I've been scared of sourdough. Half-understood ideas of having to keep feeding and halving the leaven, and the psycho baker in Kitchen Confidential screaming down the phone "Feed the bitch!", and people mentioning babysitting leaven while friends went on holiday left me feeling that sourdough was really not something I could undertake.

But Southy informed me that it wasn't really that bad, and pointed me towards Dan Lepard's sourdough, which is actually stored in the freezer and brought back to life when required (I did consider calling this post Disneyleaven, but apparently it is an urban legend that Walt Disney had himself cryogenically preserved).

I did have an anxious moment mid-way through the week, when I thought my leaven had died. It went from being bubbling and lively to completely silent and a bit dry- looking. I quickly signed up to Dan Lepard's forum, to get help with resuscitation, and my new best friend Dan informed me that it probably wasn't dead at all, but had exhausted its food reserves and that I should just keep feeding as per normal and all would be well. And gosh-darn it he was right.

I used 2 nuggets of the leaven fresh: one for the sourdough naan I made for the last Cook the Books challenge, and one following Southy's recipe for English muffins. Both absolutely wonderful and definitely to be repeated.

But I was really looking forward to bringing some frozen leaven back to life and seeing how that worked.

Pretty damn well, is how it worked! I followed-ish another one of Dan Lepard's recipes, for a sourcream sandwich loaf, using sourdough leaven instead of yeast, and Greek yoghurt instead of sourcream. Very successful! Perfect crisp crust, beautiful flavour, beautiful texture and absolutely magical aroma. Very much to be recommended.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

You're not alone, I've always been afraid of sourdough too! I'm gonna have to look into this - that loaf of bread looks amazing!

mscrankypants said...

You revived the bitch!

That's one of my favourite chapters of one of my favourite books :-).

The Cat's Mother said...

This is exciting! I never thought that sourdough would be do-able. Your results look fab.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Andrea - freezing the leaven is definitely the way forward.

Cranky - I only read it last year for the first time!

Mother - it's going to make amazing toast this morning, too.

azelias kitchen said...

Oh No! You took the bite into the Sourdough World! You'll be hooked now you know.

I can't imagine not having sourdough in the house now, normal yeast breads are nice but a toasted sourdough for breakfast is just pure heaven!

By the way you can keep it in the fridge without dying on you for 2 weeks no problem, did it in the summer and it was fine once refreshed.

Having spend months making white sourdoughs and white semi-sourdoughs I'm into wholemeal sourdoughs.

Check out the Wild Yeast site lots of lovely recipes on there.

Simona Carini said...

I have had sourdough in my kitchen for a while and always have some in the freezer, in case the live one, well, dies. I then have a batch in the fridge for short-term use and have a batch out only when I know I will use it soon.
The teacher of my first sourdough class mentioned adding a pinch of bran to a sourdough that looks sluggish. This has always worked for me.
Once you start using sourdough, you won't stop. I should try making English muffins with it.

Heather said...

Sourdough naan! That sounds wonderful. I love how bakerly you are. I really, really need to get off my duff with all that.

Sam said...

I am well impressed! Your sourdough looks perfect.

I love making bread but have never dared to attempt sourdough evn though I love the taste of it. I think this weekend I'm going to have to give it a go.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Azelia - I will take the wholemeal path next!

Simona - thanks for the bran tip. I will keep it in mind.

Heather - you have GOT to try the sourdough naan!

Sam - you really, really must.

Choclette said...

Well done for cracking the sourdough. Now I'm doing my weekly bake with it, I think it's brilliantly easy. Andrew Whitley whose bread course I went on was very against the idea of "feeding" - it's not a pet, he said and shouldn't be viewed as such. Now you've confirmed why it's not such a great idea if it scares everyone off from the commitment. Mine lives in the fridge and touch wood, seems to be fine, even when I've left it for 3 weeks.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Your own cheese, your own bacon, now your own there no end to your talents!? I am impressed! ;-)

Caroline said...

I must overcome sourdough fear - these both look great and I really like the way the muffins have turned out.

Dan's forums are so helpful aren't they!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Choclette - so many people who have done it are so reassuring, I don't know how it developed the reputation!

Deb - all training for the zombie apocalypse! I WILL be self-sufficient!

C - the muffins are gorgeous. Definitely to be recommended.


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