I have a checkered past with sourdough. In my teens and early 20's I wasn't feeling that sour flavor at all. You can't just throw that tang into any culinary situation and think it will work. It won't. It's like wine in that regard. Pairing it correctly can make or break a meal.
Enter my later 20's thru current day (and several trips to San Francisco later) I have a newfound appreciation and even admiration for this special culture. I wanted to make it from scratch to appeal the science geek in me. I got myself a glass jar with screw top lid that would be assigned strictly for sour starter purposes.
I will give the Cliff Notes synopsis of my newbie starter experience. Mind you, being that I am not a bread person per say I had no real recipe earmarked for the starter once it was ready. Not initially anyway.
Days 1-8. First day I put in my jar enough white flour and non chlorinated water to make a pancake batter consistency. No crepe batter. PANCAKE. Even if you cheat with bisquick you know this texture. I stirred it vigorously with a whisk several times per day and left it uncovered so the microorgamisms unique to my home could enter the game and work their swag in my jar. By the end of day 3 not a whole lot seemed to be happening. Granted I keep my home at igloo like temps and common sense tells you bringing heat to the party will speed up the process. I started to add warm water and wheat flour to the mix everyday and by day 6 dumped off the water that rose to the top vs stirring it in like i had been. I also let it set on a low setting of a heating pad a few hours each day. By day 10 it happened. That yeasty sour heavenly scent I had been waiting for. My starter finally started. In the future I know to start my starter with a whole grain flour vs. white. It has more for the cells to eat than flour that has had all the life of it processed out. Imagine that?
I knew the day was coming and decided I wanted to use my first dose of starter in homemade pretzels.
Enter baking day. Recipe adapted from King Authur Flour website with some steps added to ensure the perfect pretzel. Follow this to the letter. The outcome is just unbelievably fantastic.
- · 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- · 1 cup unfed sourdough starter, room temp (I left it out the night before)
- · 3 scant cups bread flour
- · 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- · 1 tablespoon sugar
- · 1 tablespoon olive oil
- · 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- · 2 teaspoons/1 pkt rapid rise yeast
Simple but necessary items to ensure flavor and textural success:
¼ c baking soda
3 tbsp sugar
Butter for brushing
In a mixing bowl fitted with dough hook or a food processor with dough blade combine the first 8 ingredients and mix until dough comes together in a smooth ball. It took about 3 minutes. Put the dough in a bowl and cover for about 45 minutes. I find this to be a very active dough and it doubled quickly. Punch it down and start portioning it out for shaping. There will be no more rising.
I decided in my stroke of genius I would use half the dough to make pretzel hamburger buns.
Put 10 cups of water in a large pot and add in the baking soda and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil while you shape your dough. At this time preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve the remaining Tablespoon of sugar in 2 Tablespoons of water and set aside.
Now we shape. My shaping skills leave a lot to be desired. I've never tried to shape a pretzel in my life. And it shows. Portion the dough into 8 pieces and start to roll them into 18" ropes. Put parchement paper on your baking pans and oil them up or use some spray. This could get a little sticky.
Submerge your shapes into the boiling mixture for a full minute, flipping them once midway. Remove with a slotted spoon onto prepared baking sheet. Brush with reserved sugar water and sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.
Bake for approx 22-25 minutes until golden. Once removed from oven brush liberally with melted butter and let cool for 10 minutes before eating.
Pretzel hamburger buns!