Saturday, August 8, 2020

This Is Your Brain On Crackers, Or How I learned to Stop Worrying And love my Sourdough Discard

   Ever since the pandemic started a LOT of people have been baking bread, some for the very first time. Flour is flying off the shelves of market. Yeast? Fuggedaboutit. That's sold out in a lot of places too, and don't get me started on hand soap, and TP. In the early days of the outbreak, my inner quartermaster kicked in. I'm a news junkie. I saw and read about what was happening, took the warnings to heart and so I stocked up on household goods. We had masks, gloves, wet wipes, tp, and hand sanitizer. I always have dals, (lentils) beans, flour, oatmeal, dry pasta, dried milk, non-dairy milk, all the basics. We don't eat meat, we do eat fish a couple of times a week. We also grow a lot of our own produce, vegetables and fruit. As writers we're used to holing up like hermits to finish a piece of work and we were in the midst of writing a TV pilot, so I figured we'd be all set. Business as usual. 
Then I got Covid.
All of a sudden everything stopped, work stopped, cooking stopped, I was in isolation and Alan was learning to cook from my blog. He showed me how clean the kitchen was being kept via Facetime. To be honest, sometimes I cared, sometimes I was just asleep. In fact, a lot of the time I was asleep. He took his favorite recipes from this blog, and some from the chef's book I'd done for the restaurant I had consulted for. If I was able to, I gave him some tips and walked him though the recipes. He learned to cook. In fact, he became a pretty good diner cook. I wasn't eating much. I couldn't for quite a while, but when I could manage to eat real food again, he cooked me sockeye salmon, and roasted vegetables for strength. 
Anyway, after two months and change, March, April and a bit of May I was well again. I had lost a LOT of weight, and still was pretty weak but I was looking forward to being able to be in the kitchen cooking again, and back in the office working on the script. Some of the supplies I laid in were depleted, especially after I started eating real food again. One of the first things I did was start to bake bread since Alan told me that was one of the things that sometimes was hard to find. I had ordered a 50 pound sack of organic artisinal flour from our local mill over in Petaluma  back in February and if I ever thought that was going to last me a while... boy was I wrong. Once I was on my feet again and started baking in May, I went though that sucker pretty damn fast. I'm now on my second 50 pound sack so you see where this is going. 
I figured since I was baking bread, why not be a good 5th generation San Franciscan follow my ancestors' wisdom, and bake sourdough. I cruised around on line and found out how to make  my own sourdough starter. The bread turned out beautifully.
I bake a loaf a couple of times a week, sometimes more, but the trick of sourdough baking is treating that starter right. It has to be fed twice a day. I don't even feed the dog that much. He gets a big meal midday, and a dental  bone in the evening and he's pretty damn happy. The starter however is demanding and twice a day it is fed. Sounds simple. Feed it, keep it in a warm spot  then later feed it again. The one thing one must do every time it's fed however, is DISCARD.  Yep, I had to toss part of my starter every time it got a new meal. I could not stand the waste! I didn't want to toss something that could be eaten, but what to do with the discard? Well a lot of people have a lot of answers for that. There are a ton of sourdough discard recipes out there, and now I make,  sourdough biscuits  (I keep a box pre-made in the freezer which I take out and bake as needed) and Sourdough waffles, which also are stored in the freezer, heat and eat. Sourdough discard oatmeal cookies and crackers.
Yes, crackers. Crispy, home-baked, sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes, no weird unpronouncable ingredients. Crackers. This recipe comes from Rebecca Firkser and I have now memorized it. It's so easy. Also one can add anything to these crackers. make them sweet, make them savory. Got Zaatar?  Why yes I do as a matter of fact. Well, use some of that. Chop up some rosemary, these are you do you boo crackers. Whatever you'd like, they're down for it. So, here's the recipe. Just a note. I use a scale set to grams when baking as I like to be precise so I'll give you both readings.

Sourdough Crackers

Here's What You Need:


1/2 cup  (60 grams) plus 2 Tbs all purpose flour 
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
one large pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup of olive oil plus extra for brushing
1 cup  ( 227 grams) of sourdough discard  
Maldon salt flakes for topping  or whatever you desire

Here's What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl mix together the kosher salt and the two types of flour.
Pour in the sourdough starter...
...and add in the olive oil.
Mix everything together. 
 See, told you this was easy.
Knead the mixture in the bowl.
 Break your dough into three pieces.
 Lay a piece of parchment paper on your work surface.
 Take one of the balls of dough and roll it out as thinly as you can get it
Thinner than that, but don't tear it.
Take the piece of parchment paper with the dough on it and lay it on a baking sheet. Brush it with olive oil to keep it moist
Sprinkle whatever topping you'd like on top...
 ...and bake.
I use three baking sheets and just bake the whole batch at the same time.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until they're golden and crispy .
 Break (or cut) them into pieces. I break them by hand because I like a rustic effect, also I am lazy and don't want to be cutting all the time.
My assistant was hoping for a taste. He got a dog cookie instead.
Place them in an airtight container, and there you go. These things go fast around here, I'm told they're great with cheese, or wine, or whatever. We've just had them plain but as soon as the plague is gone I'll be serving this to friends for cheese and wine parties.
So there you have it. Simple crackers from your sourdough starter discard. I know you have sourdough starter, nearly everyone does nowadays as I've discovered. I make a box of these about twice a week they're so easy that it quickly fits into my work schedule and I hate hate hate, taking perfectly good sourdough starter and just.....discarding it.
Coming up next,  my doctor is sending me for antibody tests at the hospital on Monday, we'll see if I have any left. Then come some fast Indian desserts from a mix, an Indian watermelon salad, and I'm getting ready to fire up the Tandoor oven again. Eggplant  is calling!
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori  and always remember.... 
 Mask Up!

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