This week I was challenged to share my favorite spring recipe. This topic unexpectedly threw me for a loop. I love to cook. My earliest memory of cooking was in elementary school when I checked out this simple and dated cookbook that, as far as I remember, only had recipes for hamburgers and gingerbread men. I checked it out over and over again. Until the sweet librarian whispered that maybe it would be okay if I went ahead and kept this one, seeing as how I enjoyed it so much. Clearly I wouldn’t have been a great contestant on Masterchef JR., as I apparently needed weeks of practice to perfect the humble hamburger. But a spark was lit that has only grown to a full flame. I spend an embarrassing amount of time each day cooking and baking. So why was I drawing a blank in thinking of my favorite spring recipe?
Favorite. My favorite recipe. As in, one I make again and again. That was my problem. I rarely make the same recipe twice. I intend to, often. Every success I think- this one is a keeper, I’m definitely adding this to my rotation! Except… I don’t have a rotation. I get too swept up in new flavors and combinations that I forget to return to any ‘favorites.’ I sometimes worry that my kids won’t be able to reflect back on favorite meals or mom’s famous such and such. But then I get on Pinterest and all is lost. There is one exception to this rule, however. Sourdough.
Oh Sourdough. Sourdough is my soul food. It has nourished and sustained me in a number of ways. I fully credit sourdough for bringing me back from an unhealthy weight loss I couldn’t seem to stop when I first started experimenting with using diet to heal my gut. The smell of fresh bread from my oven is intoxicating, the crackling sound of the crust as it cools my favorite serenade. It’s more than just a food to me, it’s a cultural connection. Historical. Almost every culture across the globe has some type of bread as cornerstone of their diet, and has for centuries. Bread, especially fermented bread, is a lifeline back to our ancestors. To our roots, to the soul, to our health.
And now that you’re sufficiently convinced I am unhealthily obsessed with bread….Here are my top ten favorite sourdough recipes:
- Basic Sandwich Loaf This is the recipe I use most often. I bake this at least once a week, sometimes more. I’ve officially stopped buying any store bought bread as we can use this for everything. I do split the recipe into two loaves as my first attempt in one pan, as the recipe suggests, resulted in a monster dough that overflowed during proofing.
- Rustic Boule This was the first recipe I had a successful loaf with, and remains my favorite in terms of taste. The increased amount of hands on time, extremely crispy crust and non uniform shape make it impractical for our daily use, but I still try to make it once a month. My go to for pairing with soups.
3. Biscuits Fluffy, flaky, irresistible. I probably make these way too often, and they don’t last nearly as long as they should. We have them plain as a snack, with sausage and eggs for a healthier fast food breakfast, or folded into pockets and stuffed with taco meat and cheese for a fun twist on taco night.
4. Crackers A fast and easy favorite for using discard. I adjust the recipe for an overnight ferment by just mixing as directed and leaving for 8-12 hours. 24 if I can stand the wait. Our favorite preparation is to brush with garlic olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and rosemary before baking.
5. Muffins I have tried a number of misses in this category. Sourdough and sweets can be a bit tricky, they sometimes can come out too far on the bread side with a texture that doesn’t fully satisfy my craving for cake, muffins etc. These however, hit the mark. Light and fluffy, some of the best muffins I’ve had- sourdough or not.
6. Cornmeal pancakes Another weekly favorite. Don’t skip the orange zest- it really sets them apart! It does call for a large amount of starter, so I split mine the night before and feed both halves (one to keep, and one to bake).
8. Donuts Donuts have always been a birthday tradition for my kids. But now, instead of Dunkin (I know, we’re gross), the birthday boy or girl gets a plate of these! Turtle requested chocolate for his big day yesterday, so I added cocoa powder instead of the extra flour noted for a workable dough. As usual I adjust for an overnight ferment. In this case I mix together the whole recipe and leave at room temp. for 10-12 hours.
9. Chocolate cake Our birthday special. I adjust for overnight ferment. I just expand the suggested rest time of 2-3 hours to 8-12.
10. Pizza Always a favorite. I split my starter two days before I intent to bake, and the night before I mix up the dough and let it rest until dinner the next day.
Have I convinced you to give sourdough a try yet? There are lots of ways to get started. My first attempts involved making my own starter. I’ll admit it was a rough go, though after giving it more time than I had originally anticipated I was having some success. Travel and health took it’s toll and I ended up scrapping it for a while. I decided on a more established starter for round two and ordered a free oregan trail starter from here. The difference in my bakes was significant. It’s been a year, maybe more, and my starter is thriving (despite that one time it flew out of the fridge and shattered all over the trailer during a move. And mixed with a bag of flour that also couldn’t stay put. Travelling is the best). She even has few babies scattered across several states.
This list is only the beginning. Pasta. Tortillas. Cookies. The possibilities are endless!
Still need convincing? Watch the Air Episode of Cooked on Netflix. I’m not crazy. Or, at least, I’m not alone in my bread loving insanity. Won’t you join me?