Adventures in Drool: The sourdough experiment

Sourdough biscuits were my third batch of sourdough starter. I added in some rosemary, rolled them out on a floured board and used a small glass to cut them into biscuits. We served them topped with chicken and gravy. Yum! BY RACHEL SWICK MAVITY
May 7, 2013

Friends, I have been on a homemade voyage lately. Since adopting a whole foods approach to eating, I have been experimenting with making as much as I can from scratch.

Our grandparents couldn't run down to the local Walmart to get all the processed, pre-made food available to us today.

We are losing the ability to create food from ingredients, and in the process we are turning more and more to fake, chemically engineered ingredients found in most pre-made convenience food products.

This is the basis of the whole foods movement - only eat things that you could make yourself at home.

This doesn't mean that you make everything at home. Obviously I am not going to grow olives to press my own olive oil, but if I wanted to, I could.

For the past month I have been engaged in a sourdough experiment.

First, you have to make a sourdough starter or get one from a local baker. To make one at home, get a large Mason jar or glass bowl. Add two cups white or wheat flour and two cups warm water. Cover with cheesecloth. You will need to feed your starter every day with a half cup flour and a half cup warm water.

Do this for five days. You will see some bubbles and liquid settling on the top. That's fine; you can stir it in or pour it off.

When you are ready to bake, pour two cups of the starter into a bowl. Feed the remaining additional starter with a half cup flour and a half cup warm water. You can store it in the fridge or on the counter to keep it going.

Add to the starter in the bowl:

2 tsp. sugar

2 TB olive oil

2 tsp. salt

Additional packaged yeast if desired.

I found that my starter did not rise much the first time I used it. It got better over the course of the next two baking cycles.

Stir your starter mixture and start adding more flour. Add about 3/4 cup to start and keep mixing. If you have a stand mixer then break it out. I wish I did!

Once the flour is incorporated, keep adding flour a half cup at a time. In the end, I needed about 2 cups, but it really varied. You are looking for a soft dough that isn't sticky.

Once the dough is in the right state, knead it for about 10-12 minutes. Then place it in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for two hours.

After two hours punch down your dough. It should have risen but not necessarily doubled in size.

Knead it for another few minutes and shape it into a loaf. Or you can cut it into biscuits at this point - using the traditional biscuit process of flouring and rolling. Place the loaf on a greased pan and let it rise for another hour or two.

When it's time to bake, place the loaf in a cold oven and set to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes.

Keep feeding your sourdough every day as long as you keep the starter. There a tons of recipes online using sourdough - check them out and experiment!

I also made an Italian flatbread that I served with flavored oil. It was delicious!

Now that I know the basics of sourdough, I can try new recipes and feel happy knowing I am making my family good food from scratch.



  • Real Parents. Real Food. Real Fun.

    Welcome to Adventures in Drool! Talking about green living, getting rid of plastics and toxic chemicals in our homes and raising happy kids on a budget. Join the conversation ( and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

    Rachel Swick Mavity, author of the blog, lives with a reformed drooler (Droolface), who at age 3 loves to get muddy, drink homemade smoothies, giggle and flirt with old ladies. Her current drooler (Birdy) enjoys spitting up on work clothes and leaving drool trails as a way of showing her love.

    Mavity previously worked as a journalist for seven years at newspapers from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Delaware. In Sussex County she worked for several newspapers, including the Cape Gazette. She lives in Lewes with her husband, Ryan Mavity, their son, "Droolface," and daughter, "Birdy."