Sourdough Stories: From Flops to Flapjacks

I came to Alaska as a young mother at the age of 19 and decided that I should definitely have sourdough as one of my kitchen staples.  I bought a packaged starter and did exactly as the instructions stated.  I was very proud and knew that in a week or so we would have nice sourdough bread, pancakes, biscuits, etc.  Then when I checked it a few days later there was this amber colored liquid on top and I just knew I had goofed so I threw it all out and started over.  I did that three different times and finally decided that starter was not my area of expertise.  I just gave up.  Of course, I was young and very inexperienced and didn’t realize that I was throwing away perfectly good starter.  
Many years later (21 years to be exact), I had opened the bed and breakfast and decided sourdough had to be on my menu!  So once again I made a starter – this time from scratch – which is very easy.  I was a few years older and much wiser and realized that the amber liquid was exactly what I was trying to achieve.  I’ve had my starter going for 26 years and have passed it along to many guests and friends over the years. 
A funny thing happened one morning when I had it proofing in my oven (to keep it away from any drafts). I got up early and came into the kitchen and immediately turned on the oven for a quiche I had planned to make.  I had of course forgotten that the starter was in a plastic bowl in the oven.  About a half hour later, just as I was about to put the quiche in the oven, I could smell this wonderful aroma! Ah, baking bread? Yep, you guessed it… my starter was baking.  
Immediately, I pulled it from the oven and tore off the top layer of baked bread to discover that the center of the bread was still in liquid form.  Certain that I had ruined the yeast, I had no other choice but to hope that I could save it.  I poured it into a glass jar and let it sit for a few days and proofed if up again and it was perfectly fine… until I did exactly the very same thing a few weeks later.  
This only goes to show that B&B hosts are very tired (and maybe a bit crazy during high season) and can do some very crazy things.  Twice and I was still able to save the sourdough.  Needless to say, I am very careful these days when I proof it overnight and I get up early after very little sleep.  House of Jade note:  yes, you can freeze your sourdough but I recommend that you do not freeze it for more than five or six months at a time.  Remove it from the freezer about a week before you plan to use it so it will return to the proper fermentation.
House of Jade Sourdough Pancake Recipe 
The evening prior to use: 
Mix 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups warm (90 degrees) with one cup of starter…  mix well, cover and set aside away from any drafts to proof overnight.
Next morning:
Stir batter well – remove 1 cup of starter for next time.
With remaining starter mix the following:
2 Tbls sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbls oil (4 Tbls if making waffles)
1/4 cup dry milk granules
Mix well, then fold in 1 tsp. soda until batter starts to rise.  Set aside for about 5 minutes.
Cook on 375 degree griddle until golden brown. Enjoy.
Remember if you’re not going to use the starter you should freshen it about every week to ten days with 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup warm water… mix well and set aside.  Refrigerate if you don’t plan on using it every week.  Use only room temperature starter to set up and proof over night.  Therefore remove it from  the frig the morning that you plan to proof it. 

Can be frozen in up to 2 cup size plastic containers.  NEVER USE metal mixing bowls – only glass or plastic.

Dee owns and operates Alaska House of Jade. She serves fellow innkeepers on the Board and a member of Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association

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