The Daring Bakers Make Sourdough!! - The Gingered Whisk

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers Make Sourdough!!

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

When I saw this month's challenge I laughed with glee! Yay, I love sourdough!! But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like this wasn't going to be a huge challenge for me - I already have my starter, and baking a loaf of bread isn't a big challenge for me anymore. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I wanted to keep to the spirit of the sourdough challenge, but I needed to make it a challenge for me.

What I decided to do was to convert my 100% hydration starter into a 50% hydration starter (YAY MATH!) and to bake something that would actually be a challenge for me. A sourdough based biscotti!

I've been wanting to try my hand at biscotti for a while, now, and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity. See, sourdough by nature is a very "wet" dough, which is what helps to give it that chewy and air filled texture. Biscotti, on the other hand, needs to be a dry dough - if its too wet, it won't dry out the way biscotti needs to.

I decided to use Susan's (from Wild Yeast) recipe for Ginger Pecan Sourdough Biscotti, but I changed the  flavors from ginger and pecan to cherry and almond instead. I really liked how this biscotti turned out! The flavors were great, and there was the perfect balance between chewy and crunchy! I will definitely be making these again, and I hope you make them, too!

How to Change a Liquid (100%) Starter to a Stiff (50%) Starter:
For a stiff starter you need a starter:flour: water ratio of 1:2:1. Meaning, you need to add twice as much flour as you have water and starter.
It became known on the Daring Bakers forums that everyone had named their starters. I can't believe I hadn't thought of this! Everything else in my house is named! Our GPS is Lola, my mixer is Julia, our flashlight is Igor. So, I would like to introduce you to Felix, my starter!
The best way to do this is to start with a very small amount of your liquid starter, 10 grams to be exact!
To this, add 20 grams of flour and 10 grams of water.
Loosely cover and allow to sit on your counter.
Every 12 hours, feed it the new ratio of 2 parts flour and 1 part water.
After a few days your new stiff starter will be ready to go!

(this math is brought to you by Susan from Wild Yeast, who is a sourdough GODDESS.

I really hope that my fellow Daring Bakers (and non-Daring Bakers) decide to keep their sourdough starter for at least a little while longer. There are so many things that you can do with a starter besides bread! Check out the Wild Yeast blog and Fresh Loaf for some inspiration, and while you are at it, check out what I have done, too!

Cherry Almond Sourdough Biscotti (adapted from Wild Yeast)

Yield: 16 biscotti

180 grams flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp salt
zest from 1 small lemon
135 grams of 50% hydration sourdough starter
2 large eggs
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
150 grams brown sugar
57 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
125 grams almond slivers, chopped
125 grams dried cherries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, starter, eggs, and vanilla.
Mix on low speed until the ingredients are well combined. The dough will be very stiff at this point.
Continue mixing on low speed until the gluten is beginning to develop, about 4 minutes.
Add the sugar, in 4 or 5 increments, mixing for about 2 minutes after each addition. The dough is going to become considerably looser as you add the sugar.
Add the butter and mix until it is completely incorporated.
Add the cherries and almonds, and mix on low speed until they are incorporated.
Form the dough into a "log" about 10-12 inches long and as compact in width as you can make it (the dough will spread).
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the dough is firm but not hard.
Remove the bread to a cutting board and slice into 3/4" slices.
Turn the oven down to 250F.
Stand the biscotti up on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and return to the oven for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until the biscotti is dry.
Cool on a wire rack.

I am submitting this biscotti for Yeastspotting, an amazing resource and catalog of all things baked with yeast!


  1. So are you now maintaining both starters - the 100% hydration and the 50%? I have to tell you, you'd gotten me thinking seriously about sourdough right before this challenge was announced, so I have you to thank for a lot of this, as well! :) The biscotti look absolutely delicious. Great job turning the challenge into, well, a challenge! :)

  2. Oh my goodness, way to challenge yourself! Your biscotti is beautiful! I have changed my mind on sourdough due to this challenge. I loved it! So glad to have tried it :)

  3. Wow! I am going to have to do some more reading on the hydration and what not. Your biscotti look fabulous!

  4. Wow, that looks divine...thanks for sharing the recipe! Love cherry, love almond, and love biscotti...

  5. Wow. I NEVER would have thought to make sourdough biscotti... that is so cool!!!

  6. Sourdough biscotti sounds so good! I haven't tried it yet, but I'll be sure to make it soon. My starter doesn't have a name yet, and I've had it for a couple of years now. I better come up with one soon!

  7. That is so incredibly creative - I would never have thought of making biscotti! I'll have to try it. Great job, Jenni! xx.

  8. Yummo! I have never heard of sourdough biscotti before, but I am totally in. Bread turned into biscuits is totally my bag.

  9. This looks amazing! I never knew you could make biscotti from sourdough starter, but it looks so delicious! Great combo of flavors. :)

  10. A sourdough biscotti? I love it! Cherry and almond flavour sounds delicious, especially when you factor in the sourdough.

    Thanks for the info about changing the hydration of your starter. I'm new to sourdoughs, so that's good to know. I wasn't quite sure.

  11. I went through a mad sourdough phase in '08 with Herbie the First (Yes..I give them names lol) where I studied and experimented like crazy - knew everything about hyration from fresh loaf and Susan, and then the knee injury. Glad to be back, but no two starters for me! I admire you for caring for two :) Love how you went off the beaten path with these sourdough cherry almond biscotti! I've got to make these with Herbie II..they lok fantastic!

  12. Very intriguing and creative! Looks delicious, too.

  13. Who knew you could do so much with a sourdough starter? I'm sure my new pal Louie and I will be very busy in the coming months (and maybe years!). Your biscotti looks divine.

  14. Beautiful. I love the cherry-almond-ness of these!


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