I can’t remember a time that I haven’t known her. We started friendship when we were probably 2 and 3 years old, and it won’t ever end. I’m sure of it.
Axon and I have not lived in the same town for over 20 years but we have somehow kept in touch. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but always in touch.
Because we were both raised on very little monetary provision but an abundance of love, hard work by our fathers and our mothers’ survival smarts in the kitchen, we share a love of all things food and sustainability. Lately, it’s been a love of sourdough.
Axon’s mom, Bev, always used to make sourdough pancakes. Don’t ask me why I remember that, but I do. Sourdough pancakes, sourdough biscuits and goat’s milk yogurt. Anyway, the sourdough is what interests me right now, especially since I can’t raise goats while I’m living in town. Not yet, anyway.
I tried to make my own sourdough starter about 7 years ago. It did not end up the way I wanted it to, mostly because I am not a patient person by nature, and now it’s clear that I didn’t let the dough rise nearly long enough. But having learned the value of time over the past few years, especially in cooking, I decided to try again.
We were chatting on the phone several weeks ago, and Ax happened to mention that she had a sourdough starter she had recently ordered that turned out to be nearly impossible to mess up. Axon is a genius in the kitchen, so she probably couldn’t have messed it up if she tried, but still. Maybe I could do it! I ordered it. I’m almost out of yeast anyway, and sourdough is supposedly easier on the old bod and more nutritious, so why not?
I got the stuff going according to the instructions in the package, and about 5 days later tried my first pizza dough with it.
Basic Pizza Dough
1/2 cup starter
1 and 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
up to 1 cup lukewarm water (start with 1/2 cup, and sprinkle in a little at a time til consistency is right.)
1/2 tsp salt
I mixed it all together and kneaded it around 8:30 a.m., covered it and let it rise on the kitchen counter until I got home from work that night at 8:45 p.m. I rolled it out, topped it and popped it in the oven at 425 degrees on a preheated pizza stone. Yummy, chewy pizza crust and so so easy!
(I think Axon’s favorite sourdough pizza dough recipe is from King Arthur flour, which I have yet to try. Maybe tomorrow.)
You also might need Axon’s recipe for Sourdough biscuits. They are heavenly, and I have been meaning to make them. This weekend is the weekend, since she just sent me the recipe!! In case you want to join me, here is her (and her mom’s) delicious concoction:
Old-Fashioned Sourdough Biscuits
(makes approximately 15 biscuits)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place a generous amount (about 3 tablespoons) of canola (or other) oil on a cookie sheet and tilt to coat the pan evenly.
Begin by mixing together thoroughly (if you don’t you will have little brown spots in the biscuit from the sourdough reacting with the baking soda, but don’t worry, the spots are harmless):
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
In a medium bowl place:
2 cups sourdough
Add the flour mixture to the sourdough and mix lightly. Then start adding more flour until a soft dough is formed. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a sticky but kneadable mound. The amount of flour you need will depend on the wetness of your sourdough. I usually end up using about 1 and 1/2 cups more flour.
Gently turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead lightly about 5 times. Roll out into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass to cut into biscuits. We like our baking powder biscuits small in diameter, but our sourdough biscuits large (about a 4 inch circle).
Take each biscuit and swirl in the oil on the pan, then flip over so that both sides get gently coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and the tops slightly less so.
Cut open with a serrated knife and serve, or simply eat them as they are.
As far as the actual bread goes, I made my first actual loaf last night after letting it rise all day again, and baked the most delicious, crusty, fluffy loaf ever for dinner!
Sourdough Bread (from the starter package.)
1 cup starter
1.5 cups flour (plus extra for kneading)
2/3 cup water
1/2 Tbsp salt
Mix together and knead. Shape the dough, oil it, and set in a bread pan. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 4-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Break or slice and eat warm bread. Faint from euphoria.
I have always loved baking bread but this is probably some of the best stuff ever that’s come out of my oven. You want to know what one of the best things besides the tang and flavor and texture is? (Which are really the best things, but anyway.) You can make it at the beginning of your day, and let it set. All day. 4-24 hours until you are ready to bake it. No need for a second rise, even! You could make the bread before you went to bed at night, wake up and pop it in the oven. This bread requires NO BABYSITTING. Just feeding.
And one more thing. The sour part of the sourdough – the fermentation – means that lots of the gluten in the wheat is broken down by the time we eat it, making it easier to digest, therefore healthier for us!
Dang, sourdough. Where have you been all my life? I love you.