For years, I had a simple weekend routine for baking whole wheat bread. Every Friday morning, I dutifully fed a starter, which would be used instead of traditional yeast. On Saturday evening, I’d make the dough and let it rise overnight in an oven warmed by the light. The next morning, I’d shape the dough, which had doubled in size, into three loaves, each weighing about 2 pounds. After a second rise, into the oven they’d go, and – presto! — we had bread for the week.
Then mysteriously (at least to me), the starter fizzled. I’d feed it and mix it into the batter, only to have the dough not rise. After trying and failing a few more times, I washed the starter down the disposal. I felt I’d been betrayed by an old friend.
After a period of mourning, I started fooling around with making sourdough starters, without much luck. Then I spotted a starter I could buy from King Arthur Flour.
I was doubtful but willing to give it a try. What arrived was a small jar with a blob of soft doughlike starter and the booklet, “Sourdough Tips & Recipes,” with all the directions I would need to successfully make sourdough bread.
It worked. I got into the swing of a new bread-baking routine and was making a good-flavored white bread with a mild, tangy flavor. I followed the booklet’s tips to use a kitchen scale for accurate measuring and save 4 ounces of starter a week for the next week’s project.
But after three months, I missed the heartiness of whole wheat. So I decided to add whole wheat flour to the mix. While it worked pretty well, the dough didn’t rise as much, making for a denser loaf.
Then I got an email from King Arthur Flour about a new Super 10 Flour Blend. It was 100 percent whole-grain flour blend made from spelt, millet, rye flakes, barley flakes, quinoa flakes, chia seed, amaranth, teff, buckwheat and sorghum. The email called it “a delicious and easy way to add whole grains to your baked goods without compromising texture.”
The email recommended substituting the blend for up to half of the all-purpose flour in in any recipe. I thought this would be just the thing for getting the whole wheat flavor and nutrition, as well as the right texture, back into my breads.
I could hardly wait for the flour to arrive. At $10.95 plus postage for a 2-pound bag, it wasn’t inexpensive. But it worked beautifully in the sourdough bread recipe I’m now making. It was worth the investment to have the multiple grains milled perfectly to easily add to recipes. I can make three batches of bread from the bag, which yields three loaves.
I recently got another recipe idea from a King Arthur Flour email: Multigrain raisin sourdough using the Super 10 Flour Blend. The recipe recommends baking the bread in a covered baker sold by King Arthur Flour for an eyebrow-raising $64.95, but you can use a Dutch oven instead.
If you’re itching to experiment with sourdough starters, visit kingarthurflour.com. You’ll find just about everything you’ll need for baking or buying for those projects. Be prepared to get frequent reminders in your email box to tease you into spending more time in the kitchen.
Contact the writer: 636-0271