Buckwheat Sourdough Starter (recap)

Some of you may recall my Buckwheat Sourdough Pancakes from a couple of years back. I didn’t keep up with the starter after a while (I’m the only one who likes buckwheat cakes around here), but recently made the starter again, this time with the idea of using it for other things. So, I’m reposting a more concise version of the instructions for making the starter — just the starter — today. In the next two weeks I’ll post some other yummy things you can make with it, besides the  Buckwheat Sourdough Pancakes.

Organic buckwheat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 cups of lukewarm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 cups slightly warm water
1 Tbls buckwheat honey (or other honey)

20150528_102458You will need 4 cups of buckwheat flour total for the first week, just to create and feed the starter, more if you make buckwheat cakes with it at the end of the first week. I usually buy two packages Bob’s Red Mill organic buckwheat flour at a time when I’m shopping.

I began the starter on a Monday and “fed it” as follows Tues-Friday, so that it’s ready to use by the weekend. Choose whatever timing works best for your household.

Day 1: In a glass bowl or other non-reactive container (not metal!), dissolve 1 pkg of active dry yeast in 2 cups of warm water. Stir in 1 Tbls honey, then 1 cup buckwheat flour. Leave the starter in the glass bowl, lightly covered, either with plastic wrap or a lid not fastened down, in a dim room.

Day 2: (The day after you mixed up the starter.) Stir well, then remove and discard 1/2 cup of the starter. Add 1/2 cup buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup water. Stir well.

Day 3: Same as day 2

Day 4: Same as day 2

Day 5: Same as day 2

Day 6: Remove 1 cup of the starter and set aside to make buckwheat cakes or to use in baking. Add 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup warm water to the remaining starter mixture. Cover the remaining starter mixture (a lid works better than plastic wrap) and refrigerate.

20150528_102622You will not touch the starter again for another week when you will once again remove 1 cup of the mixture for buckwheat cakes or baking and add 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup water. Do this every week.

The starter must be tended weekly, removing some and feeding with more flour and water. If you don’t want to make up something using part of the buckwheat starter ever week, just discard what you remove and feed as directed. (If you neglect the starter it will get nasty. Throw it out and make a fresh batch. It only takes five days until a new batch is ready to use, so don’t fret if your starter dies. It happens.)

A well-tended starter will develop a wonderful spongy, almost mousse-like texture over time. Don’t worry if feeding and making/baking doesn’t work out to exactly one one week: it won’t hurt anything to wait an extra day to feed the starter and use what you remove. Because I have more time for cooking and baking on the weekend, I set my starter up to be ready to go on a Saturday…and if Saturday is too busy, I use it and feed it on Sunday. You can let it slip a day here and there. The main thing is that you need to tend it weekly. Work out when to make the starter according to the rhythm of your daily life and when you’d be most likely to use it.

Next week: Buckwheat Sourdough Muffins!

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