What to do with leftover sourdough starter?

 

Starting the year with healthy and nutritious bread is a great way to improve your diet. In the same vein, minimising food waste should be another goal high on the list of food-related ambitions. 22.4% of all bread  (equating to 660,000t or £640 million of bread) is thrown away in UK homes every year. Bread is in the top three foods that Britons are throwing away uneaten, with potatoes and milk also making the shameful top three. Here are some tips to reduce bread waste, from storing bread in an ideal environment to using stale pieces of bread and ideas for leftover sourdough starter.

Rye sourdough starter
Rye sourdough starter

Tips for storing bread

Use a bread bin for storing bread to allow it to breathe and stay moist while shielding it from the worst of the dry air. Storing bread in plastic doesn’t let moisture escape so iwill get mushy. You can counteract this somewhat by wrapping the bread in a clean kitchen towel before putting it in a plastic bag as the fabric will absorb moisture. Don’t store bread in the fridge as it goes stale much faster. However, the freezer is a good option to go for if you’d like to keep your bread fresh for more than a few days.

Tips for using stale bread

I’m proud to report that I waste 0% of the bread I bake. Yes, we eat a lot of the tasty home-baked breads as long as they are fresh but, once a little bit stale, a splash of water and a hot oven can revive most breads to a deliciously soft state. Even really stale bread can be turned into breadcrumbs, croutons or pangrattato, used in salads such as fattoush or turned into bread dumplings or bread and butter pudding. There’s an assumption that stale bread means that it’s fit for the bin. But in actual fact stale bread is a versatile ingredient and there are many delicious recipes stale bread can be used in.

Another great way to use stale rye bread is adding some of it to your new bread dough. Old stale rye bread pieces add fantastic flavour to new loaves of bread. How to achieve this?

  • You can either keep old pieces of dried out bread. When ready to bake, soak  the stale bread in water and blend before using the ‘bread puree’ for new bread dough.
  • Alternatively, if you have a grain mill at home, cut rye bread into cubes and leave them to dry out. Put them through the mill and let the crumbs dry out again. Just before baking, combine some of the crumbs with hot water which gives a wonderfully fragrant old bread soaker to add to your new dough.

Tips for leftover sourdough starter

After this long preamble, what I’ve come to talk about specifically here is the topic of leftover sourdough starter.

There are too many recipes which frustratingly encourage people to chuck leftover sourdough starter. Why should one toss a perfectly good portion of starter? Firstly, it’s perfectly possible to produce a sensible amount of starter to begin with, without having to discard mixture along the way. Secondly, there are many good ways to use any excess starter you might have, so don’t just put it in the bin. There’s never a reason to waste and discard accumulations of old but functioning sourdough.

Leftover sourdough starter ideas

  1. Initiate your next production sourdough…
    Here is one recipe that requires a good amount of sourdough starter (100g) and I’ve added another (new) recipe below using 140g starter. Please note: A fluffy loaf of sourdough bread is best baked with a refreshed, active starter to provide fermentation and leavening power. There are other recipes, however, that do well with discarded starter.
  2. Pass it on…
    Give the gift of good bread to your friends and family!
  3. Use it as a natural bread improver…
    A small amount (up to 10% of the total dough weight) of old starter will improve any bread in terms of flavour, especially yeast breads that don’t involve any sponge, sourdough or long fermentation. Just mix the old starter in with all the other ingredients and enjoy an improvement to the dough structure, flavour and quality that comes from its rich store of organic acids.
  4. Improve the flavour of quick breads and bakes…
    Use leftover sourdough starter to improve the flavour of pancakes, muffins or crackers .

Leftover sourdough bread recipe

This is a new sourdough recipe I put together with the purpose of using some spare starter I had. Due to the large amount of sourdough starter used, it’s a very vigorous dough so will prove more quickly than other recipes using only a fraction of the starter.

White rye sourdough bread
White rye sourdough bread

Ingredients

For the sourdough

  • 140g leftover/spare sourdough starter
  • 200g light/white rye flour
  • 200g water

For the main dough

  • 50g piece of stale rye bread (+hot water to soak)
  • 280g light/white rye flour
  • 220g strong white bread flour
  • 305g water
  • 15g salt

How to make bread with spare sourdough starter

Day 1

  1. Combine the sourdough starter, rye flour and water in a medium bowl, cover and leave to rest at room temperature for about 16 hours until ripe and bubbly.

Day 2

  1. An hour before you start making the dough, take a small bowl to soak the piece of stale rye bread in water. Make sure all of the old bread is covered. Leave to soak.
  2. Drain all the water from the bowl, then puree the bread until completely lump free.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sourdough mixture from day 1 (all of it) with the main dough ingredients, including the pureed old bread.
  4. Form a dough and knead for a good 10 minutes. The dough will be quite soft, so you may want to knead it in a stand mixer.
  5. Place back in the bowl if you had taken the dough out onto your work surface and cover. Rest for about an hour at room temperature. You should see a good rise from the bread in that time.
  6. Oil a large bread baking tin and fill the punched down dough into the form.
  7. Dust with flour, cover with a polythene bag and prove for a few hours at room temperature until fully proved (e.g. if it filled your tin by half, it should now come almost to the top).
  8. Preheat your oven to 230°C in time for baking, then bake for 10 minutes at 230°C and a further 40 minutes at 190°C.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Healthy whole grain bread recipe #BreadBakers

 

New Year’s resolutions abound and healthier living and eating aspirations are plentiful with the beginning of the New Year. I’m hoping that for many, a healthier bread diet constitutes part of their New Year’s resolutions. For you special people, I have put together a healthy bread recipe to get you on the right track. If you are in an energetic, I-will-eat-better-in-2017 phase right now, give it a go!

Healthy Bread Recipe
Healthy Bread Recipe

What constitutes healthy bread?

Here is my checklist for the make-up of a healthy bread.

  • Organic ingredients

    As beautifully described by Andrew Whitley in the book Bread Matters (see page 43), “when we choose a loaf of bread,… we can also choose how its basic ingredient is grown. We can opt for bread made with organic flour, milled from wheat grown in soil kept fertile by compost, crop rotation and green manures… Bread’s roots are in the soil.”

“In bread we gain access to the vitality of the seed.”
Andrew Whitley

  • Naturally leavened

    The process of slow fermentation and using sourdough makes the nutrients in wheat flour more available for digestion and the simple sugars less available, which helps with blood sugar control, particularly for people with Diabetes.

  • Wholemeal flour

    White flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while wholemeal flour is made from grains that have not undergone heavy processing. Wholemeal and white flours differ in their nutritional value, with wholemeal containing additional fibre and vitamin content as well as a lower GI (Glycaemic Index) value.

  • Whole grains

    For the same reasons, I like to add whole grains to my healthy bread recipes. While wholemeal flour undergoes some processing, whole grains are as good as it gets when it comes to adding cereal into your bread; they come with lots of fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

  • Seeds

    Seeds contain protein, essential fats, dietary fibre and micronutrients and I particularly like adding sunflower seeds to bread. Toasted, they taste amazing and add significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.

  • Spices

    Bread spices such as fennel, coriander, caraway and anise seeds provide properties which are beneficial to the digestive system and plenty of flavour. Take a look at my post on bread spices and prepare a batch for your next bake.

  • No sugar

    Baking breads at home allows you to avoid hidden sugars found in some shop-bought loaves. Read my post about sugar-free baking for additional information.

  • DOn’t let ‘Gluten-free’ deceive you

    Gluten-free bread isn’t ‘a healthier option’ if you don’t suffer from coeliac disease or other gluten-related disorders. The majority of flours and starches used to make gluten-free breads are high glycaemic with little fibre. Shop-bought varieties often contain certain industrial type binders such as xanthan gum which is highly processed and far away from the basic ingredients (flour, water, salt) of bread. If there is no medical reason for eating gluten-free, I would discourage you from seeking gluten-free bread options for health reasons. Healthy bread is based on natural ingredients and slow fermentation – rarely something connected to gluten-free nor supermarket-bought breads.

Baking Sourdough Bread: The Traditional Art of Sourdough
Source: Fix.com Blog

Healthy bread recipe

Here’s my healthy bread recipe for your new healthier lifestyle! As per my notes above, use organic ingredients throughout.

Healthy Bread
Healthy Bread

First of all, a summary of all ingredients for my healthy bread recipe:

  • 50g rye sourdough starter (make from scratch or use a starter you have previously prepared)
  • 250g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 50g cracked rye kernels
  • 175g wholemeal rye flour
  • 100g sunflower seeds
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 415g water
  • A splash of sunflower oil
Healthy whole grain bread
Healthy whole grain bread

How to bake my healthy whole grain bread

If you don’t already have a sourdough starter, start by preparing this from scratch. Follow my guide to make a rye sourdough starter – with all organic ingredients. You’ll only need to complete this process once, so don’t be put off by it taking a few days to complete. It’s worth it! I’ve had my starter since January 2012 and have not looked back since.

Day 1

Step 1 – Refresh your sourdough starter

  • In a medium bowl, combine 50g of your rye sourdough starter with 50g wholemeal wheat flour, 50g cracked rye kernels and 100g water.
  • Cover with a lid or plastic foil and leave to stand at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

Step 2 – Prepare the seed and grain soaker

  • Dry roast 100g sunflower seeds in a frying pan releasing the wonderful nutty flavours.
  • Place the toasted seeds in a bowl and cover with 125g boiling water.
  • Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

Day 2

Step 3 – Prepare the production dough

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl and form into a dough

  • 200g of your refreshed starter mixture from day 1 (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake)
  • The sunflower seed soaker from day 1
  • 200g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 175g wholemeal rye flour
  • 160g water
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed

Knead for 10 minutes, then place the dough back into the large bowl, cover with a lid and leave to rest for about an 1 hour at room temperature.

Step 4 – Prove the dough

  • Once rested, give the dough another quick knead.
  • Prepare a loaf tin for baking and lightly oil the tin using sunflower oil and a baking brush.
  • Prove for several hours at room temperature until the loaf has risen well.

Step 5 – Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 220°C and a further 40 minutes at 180°C.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

I’m in good company with my healthy whole grain bread recipe this month. Check out the healthy breads that my fellow #BreadBakers have baked:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers