I am a devoted sourdough parent.
Let me explain.
Sourdough, the gluey-looking monstrosity that yields some of the tastiest bread ever, is a bit of a time-intensive and sensitive being. It’s alive (seriously) and it needs to be constantly catered to and fed if it’s going to STAY alive. With that in mind it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide to take on the challenge of sourdough, but with people self-isolating and bread shelves being emptied at an alarming rate, it seems like the best possible time to try a sourdough starter.
If the idea scares you, an alternative to starting your own is to offer to buy some from a local bakery. Most bakeries keep their starter active at all times, so it is pretty easy for them to share some living starter, and especially with a likely drop in foot traffic, they would be grateful for a way to discard some ahead of feeding.
If you are a brave soul and want to start your own, here is my recommended method, courtesy of King Arthur flour.
When you have a thriving starter, the key to remember is the two-to-one ratio. 1 cup of flour to a half cup of lukewarm/room temp water. This can be decreased if you don’t discard much, ie: 1⁄2 cup flour to 1⁄4 cup water. I do personally recommend the King Arthur flour #notsponsored, I’ve just had the best results with it.
If you are going to use your starter often, leave it on the counter and feed it twice a day. If you’re a less frequent baker, pop it in the fridge and feed it once a week (pull it out and let it come to room temperature over several hours, you’ll be able to tell it’s active and ready to be fed by the bubbles).
Now that you have your starter you need things to make with it. So let’s put a Rays twist on this and share some our favorite Rays players as sourdough recipes.
Charlie Morton: Tried and true, a no-fail, no-knead Dutch oven bread
Everyone needs that one recipe in their kit they can whip out without much thought and will always yield excellent results. Like a Charlie Morton start, you know what you’re going to get when you make the (Almost) No Knead Sourdough bread. The folks at America’s Test Kitchen are the reason I know how to bake bread at all, so you know this is going to be a great recipe.
Pro tip: if you don’t have a Dutch oven, any heavy-duty pot with a lid should suffice.
Extra pro tip: DO NOT SKIP PROOFING. Let that baby steam in the oven. You’ll end up with a beautifully chewy crust and wonderful, moist interior.
Willy Adames: A great biscuit for a former great Biscuit
With a minor league franchise called the Montgomery Biscuits in the family, you knew we’d have to include a biscuit recipe. And one of the best Biscuits in modern memory is Willy Adames, naturally. The EDIBLE biscuit — which I incidentally made at 11pm one night to not waste discard — is quick and easy and yields impressive, tangy, flaky biscuits in under 30 min.
It also uses quite a bit of discard, so when you’re trying to feed your starter but you’re not sure what to do with the discard, this is 100% my recommended recipe. Another King Arthur recipe.
Pro-tip: a pastry cutter is a very handy way to mix the cold butter in, but in a pinch if you have a box grater for cheese it works great as well!
Austin Meadows: A ballpark classic, the sourdough pretzel
Austin Meadows is the kind of player people get excited about going to the ballpark for. He hits home runs, he’s got star power, and he’s a quintessential fun player whose joy for the game is evident.
As far as fun ballpark food goes, I might be in the minority, but I love ballpark pretzels. They’re soft and salty and whether you dip them in mustard or nacho cheese, they have a bit of extra zip to them.
If you can’t find yourself at a park cheering on Meadows in person, a homemade ballpark pretzel is the next best thing. This is also a great option if you don’t have time to feed your starter out of the fridge, since it can be used still-cold for this receipe.
Joey Wendle: An adaptable-to-any flavor player
There are few players on the Rays quite as adaptable as Joey Wendle. He can play any infield position (excluding first base, but let’s be real, in a pinch they could put him there). He moves to where he’s needed.
In terms of sourdough recipes, the best correlation is the incredible, adaptable, sourdough cracker. This simple recipe is anything you need it to be. Add cheese and spices and you have a Tex-Mex cracker. Add rosemary and black pepper for an Italian spin. It can be whatever you want it to be.
Pro-tip: These crackers lose their crispiness if left out too long, so either eat them right away or freeze and then refresh them in the oven before eating.
Extra pro-tip: If you plan to use sea salt, use the good stuff and opt for Maldon.