I’m a big sourdough fan, making wild starters in almost every place I’ve lived. I’ve cultivated and eaten wild sourdough from south eastern Oregon, the north coast of California, famed San Francisco, ultra urban Los Angeles and now sourdough from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Memory being what it is, I can’t quite remember the differences. I wish I still had samples of all my sourdough starters, but life has a way of making you leaving such treasures behind.
Time to do a taste test! How different is my Minneapolis sourdough from the classic San Francisco sourdough? Since I no longer live in the city by the bay, I ordered wild San Francisco sourdough yeast from Cultures for Heath. I followed their instruction for culturing the starter, which took about 4 days. Once the starter was active, I began my test.
I took my Minneapolis starter and the San Francisco starter and, following the exact same culturing method, made two very bubbly, healthy starters from the same flour and water. Then I took 1/2 cup of starter from each batch, placed each starter in a clean mason jar, added 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c water to each jar, stirred to combine (don’t use the same spoon or you’ll cross contaminate your starters!). I covered each jar with a piece of cheese cloth held with a rubber band, and then set them on the counter for 24 hours. I repeated this process for 5 days - yes you are throwing out over half your starter everyday. You will have leftover starter, which can be thrown in to regular pancakes and bread recipes, or thrown away.
Once the starters are bubbly within a few hours of being fed, you are ready to make bread. Using a soft sandwich bread recipe, I fermented and rose the bread for almost 24 hours, using the same ingredients, rising time, baking temperature and pan size.
The finished bread loaves were almost identical, with the same rise, air bubble size, crust and texture. But the taste was totally different. The Minneapolis sourdough was sharp, tangy and mouthwatering, with a slight bitterness (in a good way.) The San Francisco sourdough in contrast was buttery and nutty, with a slight sour cream tang that was much more subtle than Minnesota.
Which one did I like best? I loved them both! The Minnesota sourdough really tasted like it had rye flour in the mix and paired just beautifully with salted butter. I loved the pronounced tang! The San Francisco sourdough was much more accessible, and worked really well with in the ham sandwich I made with it, not competing to heavily for your attention. Now I have two great sourdoughs in my arsenal of taste and will be making many more in the future. Next time I travel for a week, remind me to capture some local sourdough as a souvenir!
Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe
Activate your sourdough starter by taking out 1/2 cup of starter, mixing it with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. The next day, take out 1/2 cup of starter and do it all over again, discarding the remaining starter or using it as filler in pancakes or other breads with regular yeast or baking powder. After 5 days, your starter should be good and bubbly. Once it strongly bubbles within a few hours of feeding, you're good to go.
- 1/2 c active sourdough starter
- 1 c water
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2-1/2 c whole wheat white flour, plus more for kneading
This recipe takes 16-20 hours to ferment, rise, and bake.
1. The night before you bake, combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a spoon until a sticky dough is formed. Turn into an oiled bowl, flipping over once to cover both sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment overnight.
2. The next morning, about 8-12 hours later, dump the dough onto a well-floured counter and knead until you have a smooth elastic dough, adding flour as needed. You could add as much as an additional cup of flour. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then form into a loaf. Grease a loaf pan, and add the dough. Cover the pan and let dough rise until double.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack placed in the upper middle. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the bread reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees or so. Turn bread out on to a cooling rack. Try to let it cool before you slice it, if you can.
Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One Tomato, Two Tomato. A cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.