Bakin’ at home

About a month ago, it felt like coronavirus hit the United States all at once. Everyone suddenly took it seriously and hit the grocery stores for some very specific items – including bread. I came home from my normal work travel a day early during this time and figured bread would be one of the first things to clear from the grocery shelves, so I immediately made a sourdough starter that night in anticipation of having to bake my own bread.

Sourdough starter can be used for a lot more than just bread, as well – I’ve made sourdough pasta, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, and various other foods from starter in the past. It’s also super easy to maintain, even if you’re like me and kill orchids.

I’m not an awesome baker, but this is how I made my sourdough starter (below). If you want precise instructions, this is a friend of a friend’s Instagram; she’s a professional baker. She has an awesome, detailed bread guide and tons of tips on her Insta – send her a donation on Venmo to get her detailed bread guide for precise, professional instructions and troubleshooting help. It’s definitely worth it!

Sourdough Starter Recipe

  • Mix a cup of flour with a half cup of water in a container (glass bowl is best) with a yeast packet (fastest method) or a tablespoon of sugar (to just use wild yeast) and leave uncovered on the counter for 24 hours.
  • The next 2-5 days, add a cup of flour and half a cup of water and mix. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
  • By the end of 5 days, your starter should have bubbles to indicate the yeast is alive and well.
  • Going forward, feed starter 1-2 times a day (twice if you’re baking daily) by discarding half of the starter (throw it away or bake, doesn’t matter) and adding a cup of flour and half a cup of water. You discard half the starter to make the remaining half more active.
  • If you don’t want to bake often, you can put your starter in the fridge and feed it weekly. Bring it out on the counter and feed it 1-2x daily for a couple of days before you bake if you do this to get it activated.

I’ve made sourdough bread a couple of times so far over the past few weeks, but realized today I had a bunch of bananas that I fully intended to eat, but had not touched. They were starting to go bad. I also had a lot of sourdough starter… so, sourdough banana bread was on the menu. I used this recipe but changed some of the ingredients + steps to suit my own tastes.

Sourdough Banana Bread
Time to prep: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus a few tablespoons extra for greasing the bread pan
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (if you don’t have white or brown sugar, just use a whole cup of either or a cup of honey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup very ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups sourdough starter (not fed yet that day)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla
  • As much cinnamon as you want
  • As much nutmeg as you want
Get the ingredients ready ahead of time and put them away as you use them!

Instructions

First, pre-heat your oven to bake at 350 degrees. If your butter is cold, rub the wrapped stick in your hands until it softens. Don’t melt it in the microwave – it’ll change the texture of the bread!

If your brown sugar is hard, use something heavy to break it into chunks, put it in a bowl with a wet paper towel on top, and microwave in 10-15 second spurts until you can break it apart more easily.

Combine your butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until it’s creamy, then add an egg and mix. Beat in the bananas — if they’re very ripe, it shouldn’t matter if you pre-mash them or not.

Once this is mixed well, add in the sourdough starter and keep mixing. Add flour in 1/2 cup increments while stirring in between; on the last 1/2 cup, sprinkle in salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla across the mixture.

I did eat a little bit of this raw.

Finish mixing everything together until it’s well-blended.

Use the extra few tablespoons of butter to grease a bread pan thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for about 1 hour or until your preferred doneness.

Finish this recipe off by slathering the warm banana bread in butter and eating the entire loaf without sharing… and blame it on social distancing rules.

It’s beautiful!

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