I’ve done several blog posts on sourdough. This one is about how I got my starter to “start”, back in August 2010. This one is a follow up with a ton of recipes, written two years later. I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of baking regularly (too busy, and trying to lose a few pounds by cutting out bread products, among other things), and my starter had been languishing in the back of the refrigerator for many months. I decided I needed to get it out and work with it again, before it perished.
It took about a week to get it going again. When I’m trying to revive my starter, I make recipes where the product doesn’t depend on the starter for lift. So I made crepes a couple of times (breakfast, dinner), and muffins a couple of times, and pancakes, waiting for the starter to start to double in size after being fed (but not wanting to throw out the part that got pulled off each time I fed it). And then one night, I thought, why not biscuits? Most sourdough biscuit recipes you find are really more like rolls. You throw the ingredients together the night before, form into “biscuits”, put in a Dutch oven, let rise overnight, and bake in the morning. That might be tasty, but its not a biscuit.
A good biscuit, for me, contains a fat, cut into flour, and then moistened and barely mixed, to give it a light and flaky rather than doughy or bready texture. They are baked on really high heat and are out of the oven in 20 minutes or so. My go-to recipe for biscuits is this one by Alton Brown. (The AB recipe comes out pretty moist in my experience, so I just do drop biscuits using a disher scoop to plop them onto a baking sheet, rather than going through all the mess of rolling them out and cutting them.) So, using this as my starting point, I adapted the recipe to use some sourdough starter. They came out pretty darned good.
Real Sourdough Biscuits
- 1 cup sourdough starter (9 ¼ oz for my starter)
- 4 5/8 oz (just short of a cup) of whole wheat flour (white is OK too, but you might need more)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- ½ cup milk, cold
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper (or grease well).
In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add fats and pulse until the mix looks like crumbs. (Alternatively, do this in a mixing bowl using your fingers. Try not to let the fats melt too much from the warmth of your hands.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine sourdough starter and milk. Add your flour/fat mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Using a ¼ cup “disher” or a large spoon, scoop the dough from the bowl onto your prepared sheet pan. You should get 11 or 12 biscuits. Smoosh down a bit to flatten into discs rather than balls.
Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
Miles Away Farm Blog © 2014, where happiness is an active sourdough starter, cooler weather (please), and time to write a blog post. If you’re local, I’m happy to share my starter. Just ask.