Sourdough Surprises - June

Friday, May 22, 2015


Here in the US, its the beginning of summer, and berries and fruits are coming into season. What better way to celebrate by making a gallete or crostata, which are rustic and free-form tarts often filled with fruits (but also sometimes with veggies!) Now, we have made pies before, but I thought it has been long enough and we have enough new members that we should give it a shot. But instead of doing a traditional pie in a plate, I want us to focus on the more rustic and simple crostatas and galettes.

The pie crust we used before is a pate brisee, and turned out wonderful, with a flaky and tender dough with just a hint of sourdough flavor. If you would like to go that route, please check out this link. You can also check out this recipe but you will need to go get the book!  Like always, you are free to use any recipe you like, and any ingredients with which to flavor your crostatas. If you would like more inspiration, please check out our Monthly Inspiration Board on Pinterest!

To Join us for June:
1. Make some amazing rustic galettes and crostatas utilizing your sourdough starter!
2. Take some photos and blog about it on June 20, 2015
3. Make sure that you include a link back to our blog somewhere in your post. Make sure it says "www.sourdoughsurprises.blogspot.com" 
4. Make sure you come back here to enter your post into the linky tool on reveal day so everyone can see what you have made!

5. Post your pictures and/or blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with the #sourdoughsurprises tag so everyone can see! 



** If you don't have a blog but would like to join us anyway, that's awesome! We would love that! Simply bake along with us, and send us an email containing a picture of your creation, your name, and a brief description of what you made and we will include it on the reveal day post! 

Can't wait to see what you have made!


Sourdough Biscuits

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Korena from Korena in the Kitchen made these awesome Strawberry-Nectarine Shortcake with Balsamic Syrup

Sourdough biscuits are a great use of sourdough discard. They are quick and easy, and probably one of the first recipes (beyond pancakes) that people make with their sourdough starter. But just because they are simple and quick does not mean that they should be discounted. Biscuits are a great addition to meals, great as a snack, sandwiches, or for shortcakes! You can make them sweet or savory, and add all kinds of great ingredients to them!


Check out the awesome biscuits that we made this month and don't forget to link yours up! Check back in a few days to see what we are making next! 




Sourdough Tips: Help! My Starter is Sick!!

Monday, May 4, 2015


Our starters take a lot of work, and many have been with us for a while. They are living organisms, and after a while they start to feel like pets or part of the family. Many people even name theirs (mine is named Felix). So when your starter suddenly starts not performing well, we want to fix things as soon as we can!

Your starter isn't just a mixture of flour and water, but actually a rather complex and dynamic ecosystem of microorganisms. It doesn't take much to throw it out of balance. But thankfully, starters are also fairly resilient things, and it is fairly easy to revive them back to health. I am going to try and keep things as simple as I can here, without getting into the more technical and scientific explanations (although I am really itching to do a post on that!)


Your Starter has a Layer of Blackish Water on Top
This liquid layer is called hooch. This is a naturally occurring alcohol that is produced when your sourdough starter has run out of food and needs to be fed immediately! You can kind of think of this as a waste product, and you should pour it off before you feed your starter. If you are getting this liquid often, it means you really should feed your starter more often! This layer of hooch  actually causes the starter to drown, because the carbohydrates underneath can't get any air.

Your Starter Smells like Alcohol
When your starter isn't fed often enough, it is common for an alcohol smell to develop. This happens when the starter begins to consume discarded yeast as well as its own waste. Start feeding your starter more regularly, and your starter will return to its normal smell. If you need help remembering when to feed your starter, make a note on your calendar!

Your Starter Smells Like Vinegar
Guess, what? This is totally normal. The vinegar smells comes from the acetic acid in your starter. As the bacteria in your starter eat through the carbohydrates you have fed it, they produce the vinegar smell. This mostly happens when you change the type of flour you are feeding your starter. Continue feeding!

*Notes on smells. Different starters smell different, depending on the type and quality of flour that you are feeding it. Normal smells range anywhere from alcohol, vinegar, dirty socks, overripe fruit, beer, and sometimes even nail polish if it needs fed. It can be pungent and strong, it can burn your nose, and it can stink. But it should never smell like rotten cheese or moldy meat. 
As you feed and continue to use your starter, you should become familiar with how it smells. You should know how it smells when it needs feeding and after you have fed it. When you cook, you continually taste so that you can adjust the seasonings. Sourdough starters work similarly, you should be continually smelling your starter so that you can adjust feedings as necessary. One of the first clues that something is going wrong with your starter is how it smells, so be aware!

Your Starter is Crusty
If you keep your starter at a lower hydration rate, this problem can arise. This happens when it has been neglected and not fed.  Remove the crusty part and feed your starter.

Your Starter is Moldy or Discolored
This is fairly uncommon, but it occasionally happens, and is usually caused  by one of two things. Either your starter/container/utensil was contaminated with soap or food reside during a feeding, or your yeast has become weakened due to skipped or improper feedings. Some people feel comfortable pulling out a tablespoon or so of starter that isn't moldy and trying to save it. However, we feel its probably safest and healthiest to just throw it out (sorry!) and start over. This would be a good time to revive some dehydrated starter you have stored. When in doubt, Throw it out!

Your Starter is Sluggish
Generally speaking, this could be because of temperature. At colder temperatures, the microbes in your starter are sleepier. That is why we store in the fridge in between use. Because they tend to be sleepier, they take longer to activate. Reversely, if your starter is warm, it moves faster. The ideal temperature for your starter is 70 Degrees F.

Remedy Your Problems
Generally speaking, the best way to revive a sick starter is by feeding it.
  • Keep it Clean - Transfer your starter into a clean bowl or measuring cup so you can thoroughly wash the "home" container for your starter. Make sure you use very clean bowls, spoons, and measuring cups, and that you wash your hands well before each feeding. Just because starters are fermented items does not mean they can handle bacteria.
  • Check your Container - Make sure it is kept reasonably clean, remove any dried gunk from the lip of the container so you get a good seal with the lid. You also want to make sure that your container is twice the size of your starter, so that you have as much air in your container as you do starter. This will allow your starter to have enough oxygen to breathe. 
  • Feed it - Feed your starter as you normally would, using good quality flour and clean, cool water. Cover and allow to stay on the counter for several days. Continue feeding every 12 hours for several days, until your starter has returned to its normal, healthy, bubbly self. 
I hope you have found this post to be helpful!

**Note: I tried to simplify a lot of the science of sourdough starters, so you could understand how to care for a starter without necessarily understanding a lot of the technical science behind it. Are you interested in a more technical post that explains the science behind how a starter works? If so, please leave a comment and let me know! 




Rediscover Real Artisan Sourdough Baking!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Today we have a really special gift for you!



By now many of you are probably familiar with Teresa from Northwest Sourdough. There have been several challenges where we have recommended her recipes, and there have been many times where we have directed several of you to her site in answer to questions and in looking for more information. We have even had her listed under our "More Resources" tab for quite a while now.

Teresa has a great site and is full of wonderful information, and we highly recommend that you take a moment and check out her site. Not only does she have an abundance of recipes, but she also posts "how to" videos on You-Tube, and has written 4 e-Books all about sourdough baking.  

Recently, Teresa has started a new online course called Rediscover Real Artisan Sourdough Baking. This course has over 58 lectures, 3 hours of content, and is perfect if want to learn to make the perfect rustic sourdough loaf! This course is also self-paced, so there is no need to feel rushed - you can take this course as it fits into your life. Additionally, once you enter into this course you will have all the materials ready for you permanently, as well as any future updates.

Teresa has offered to let Sourdough Surprises readers take this awesome course (normally $199) for an awesome price of just $25!!!

Many of you have expressed an interest in becoming more confident and proficient in your sourdough baking, and so we hope you will take advantage of this special opportunity that is being offered just for us!

Photo by Teresa Greenway at Northwest Sourdough
Please follow this link to sign up for the Rediscover Real Artisan Sourdough Baking Course: https://www.udemy.com/rediscover-real-artisan-sourdough-baking/?couponCode=Surprise25

We know you will love this course, and learn so much! And, we are totally taking it, too! But hurry, this is only good for the first 500 people that sign up!


Sourdough Surprises - May

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Awesome job on your sourdough biscotti, they all looked great! This month we thought we would take it back to the basics and try our hand out Sourdough Biscuits.



Yes, Sourdough Biscuits are easy.
Yes, the majority of you have probably made them hundred of times already.

But don't bail on us yet. We know that May can be a busy time for people, what with graduations, and school ending, and all kinds of fun things you can do. So we wanted to pick something easy, that wouldn't take up a bunch of time. Biscuits are great because there are so many variations you can make. But its also a great time to hone you skills, too. Maybe you need to practice your technique to get perfectly flaky biscuits. Or maybe you want to try adding some fun ingredients. So, even if you make sourdough biscuits every single week, just go ahead and join us this month anyway! :)

The key to making great biscuits is to keep your ingredients cold. Your butter should be cut into small pieces and then placed in the freezer for a bit. It wouldn't hurt to measure out your dry ingredients and place them in the freezer for a bit either. You also want to make sure you work fast, so you don't start to melt the butter or overwork the dough. To get perfectly flaky biscuits you need to touch the dough as little as possible.

Like always, you may use any recipe you like. We recommend checking out this recipe and this recipe. Also, Alton Brown has probably the best primer on biscuits ever (its not sourdough recipe, but the technique here is key!). And as always, check out our Monthly Inspiration Board on Pinterest for even more ideas!

We can't wait to see what you make!

To Join us for May:
1. Make some amazing biscuits utilizing your sourdough starter!
2. Take some photos and blog about it on May 20, 2015
3. Make sure that you include a link back to our blog somewhere in your post. Make sure it says "www.sourdoughsurprises.blogspot.com" 
4. Make sure you enter your post into the linky tool on reveal day so everyone can see what you have made!

5. Post your pictures and/or blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with the #sourdougsurprises tag so everyone can see! 


(Also, let's spread the word and see how many people we can get making sourdough biscuits this month, ok?) 



~Jenni and Shelley



Sourdough Biscotti

Monday, April 20, 2015

Biscotti is a wonderfully crunchy cookie treat, and perfect to dunk with coffee or tea! The flavors are only limited by your imagination, and it was fun to make them with our sourdough starter!



If you baked along with us this month, please link up your blog post. If you don't have a blog but baked with us, you can email us a photo of your creation at sourdoughsurprises@gmail.com

Link up Here:

Don't forget to share your creation on whichever social media you use, so everyone can see the awesome things we have created!

And don't forget to check back in a few days to see what we will be making next! Thanks for joining us!


Sourdough Surprises - April

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thanks for all you lovely friends who joined us in celebrating our Third Anniversary! We really could't do this without you!



We thought this month it would be fun to make biscotti!! We know some of you have already done this, but biscotti are too delicious and we wanted to make sure everyone had the chance to try them! Biscotti are oblong shaped, crunchy twice baked cookies. They are often served with coffee, tea, or even a dessert wine for dunking! They are made by making a rustic shaped loaf (kind of like a quick dough recipe) and then before the loaf is done, slicing it into strips and baking the rest of the way. Biscotti do not need yeast, since the batter is more of a cross of a quick bread and a cookie dough - so here your sourdough will just be for flavor! So make sure you give it a few good feedings to get it nice and active before you start baking!

As always, please feel free to use any recipe you like (but we suggest taking a look at this one and this one). If you need more inspiration, don't forget to check out our Pinterest Monthly Inspiration Board!

How to Join this Month:
1. Make some amazing Biscotti utilizing your sourdough starter!
2. Take some photos and blog about it on April 20, 2015
3. Make sure that you include a link back to our blog somewhere in your post. Make sure it says "www.sourdoughsurprises.blogspot.com" 
4. If you would like the linky to appear on your blog, this link: Get the Inlinkz Linkup and choose the HTML code that works best for you and your blog. Copy and paste it into the HTML section of your blog. You will know you have done it correctly if you see a blue link appear. (If you need help with this, or want the code without having to sign in to Inlinkz, just send us an email and we will gladly help!)
5. Make sure you enter your post into the linky tool on reveal day so everyone can see what you have made!



We can't wait to see the delicious crunchy biscotti that you make!

If you don't have a blog but want to bake along with us anyway, great! If you like you can email us a picture of your creation at sourdoughsurprises@gmail.com and we will include it in our post.

And, you can always post pictures to social media with the #sourdoughsurprises tag so we can all see!