Aged fermented flour as I like to say ( some call it discard) is an unfed starter. I used to check for “when it smell “bad” or sour” as many texts suggest. The truth is that the past decade wild yeasts have been training me to go on a journey of smells, flavors and discovery.
I am not bothered by the smells. I crave them. I picture bakers in a time not that far from us, maybe before the age of refrigerators and commercial yeast reflecting on what it means to “discard” ingredients tied to monetary resources, time and one’s survival? Maybe that is why I do not like using the term discard in my kitchen. Those times are now and always. Yes we can compost, but I have watched people dump cups of fermented flour in the trash. We can scale our feeding to small amounts with little practice and finding our routines and baking rhythm.
But we do not have to toss it if we have extra. The aged starter that I feed roasted squash puree and sometimes use to ferment cookies is oh so sweet for weeks! Working with fermented flour at different stages is an exciting part of working with sourdough. We refresh our sourdough culture by removing some of the old fermented flour that is hungry and sour and add fresh flour and water so it can build strength to leaven bread. The portion that we hold back is ready to be fed too if we wish. We decide how much of a fed starter to use to build a leaven based on the kind of bread we want to make, how sour we want or how much time we have and so on.
Depending on how we feed our starter, we may end up with extra fermented flour. One way to think of it is as an ingredient to add to recipes so we do not have a lot of waste. But the past year I have loved exploring ways ( 1/2 cup of sourdough series) to use it in combination with time to see how it transforms and works with other ingredients. Think of fermented flour as another culture that is living in flour and water and ready for much more.
Aged fermented flour not only ferments, it flavors, digests and preserves. I love it so much that when I make levain, I make extra to age in my fridge so that I can stabilize leftover vegetables and fruits while reducing waste. I dry it and use it as dry fermented flour in my recipes. I can ferment my breakfast porridge or use it to bubble my kvass. Discard is just hungry sourdough. We can feed it our cake and cookie batters too, just as we do with our breads.
And above all, working with microorganisms brings a little magic and awe into my kitchen.
I recently got a gift of sprouted flour from Rusted Rooster Farm here in Maine. It made me dream of fermented crackers. You can use whole Wheat as well.
Sprouted Flour Fermented “Graham” Crackers
Cream until fluffy and pale:
½ cup of butter room temperature
⅓ to ½ cup of sugar
¼ cup of unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup of fed or unfed sourdough starter
Add and Mix:
2 cups of Sprouted Whole Wheat or whole wheat
½ tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of baking soda
½ tsp of baking powder
½ tsp salt.
Mix the batter until all ingredients are well combined. Let it ferment on the counter for a day and/or in the fridge for several days. I like to roll out after chilling the dough.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle. It can be as thin or thick as you like, just adjust at baking time. I roll out to about 12X16 inch baking sheet on top of my baking mat or parchment paper.
I use a pizza cutter or knife to gently score rectangles, but not cut all the way through. Then with a toothpick, I make small holes in each rectangle.
Bake 350 F for about 15-20 minutes at or until the edges of the crackers are golden brown. I let mine cool a bit in the baking sheet before breaking them apart and letting them cool completely in a wire rack (they will become more crisp as they cool).
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