Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Peppered Sourdough Crackers

So, a bit more here on sourdough care:  It's summertime, you fed your bubbly friend before you left on vacation, and it survived without you, alone in the fridge. You heartless monster, you.  But you're home now, and it's time to pay it some attention. Take it out one evening, and let it spend the night at room temperature.  (At this point, you can stir in the alcohol that has separated.  If you want a thicker starter, as some prefer, just pour it off, then stir.)

In the morning, measure out a cup of your stirred, room temperature starter.  Pour the rest into a mixing bowl. This is a good time to wash the crock (the container where your starter lives).  I experiment by feeding my starter various things... sometimes a mix with potato flakes and sugar.  Sometimes a little extra yeast.  Sometimes just flour and water.  This week, the basics: 1/2 c. warm water and 1 c. flour into the freshly cleaned crock, stir.  Pour in the cup of un-fed starter you measured out earlier.  Stir, and let this rest for several hours at least, at room temperature.  I always keep it covered.  The longer your starter is at room temperature, the more that sour, sourdough flavor develops.

Feeding time.

Just fed starter in the clean crock.
Fed starter, unstirred, after resting 8 hours at room temperature.
Fed, rested, stirred.
Once the fed starter in your crock has rested, you can make a loaf of sourdough bread, or a number of other things.  You'll probably use a cup of it.  Then you'll feed what's in the crock and stick it back in the fridge.  If all of this sounds terribly high-maintenance, it's really not.  Sourdough starters can last weeks without attention.  If you don't want to bake anything with it, just stick it back toward the back of your fridge again.

Now, what do you do with the cup of un-fed starter you measured out earlier?  Make crackers!  Why do you have to do that anyway?  You measure out a cup of starter before feeding the rest, in order to more efficiently feed the yeasts in your starter.  And to keep it from growing so large, it takes over your kitchen like the blob.

Peppered Sourdough Crackers
1 c. unfed sourdough starter
1 c. flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly oil two large cookie sheets.  

Add oil, salt and flour to your cup of unfed starter, more or less flour, as needed (consistencies of starters vary).  Stir to form a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl.  Turn out onto a floured counter and knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a dense, slightly springy ball.  Let the dough rest 10 min. to relax the gluten a bit.  If you over-knead, it may be hard to roll your cracker dough thin.

Resting dough ball.
Roll it out as thin as you can get it, picking up, turning and dusting with flour often, to prevent sticking.  Sprinkle with ground black pepper, then press it in with a final pass of the rolling pin.

Use a pizza cutter to cut out your cracker shapes.

Bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Flip your crackers and bake another 2-3 minutes.  (If yours are rolled thicker than mine, you'll have to bake a little longer.)  Remove and cool on a rack.  Store in an airtight container.  These were like sourdough pita chips:

Would taste great served with parmigiano reggiano and honey.
The kids LOVED 'em.

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