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Saving the Sourdough

January 3, 2011

Sometime last May, Mom put a cup of her sourdough starter in a plastic Hellmann’s Mayonnaise jar, taped it tightly shut with packing tape, sealed it inside a Ziplock bag, packed it into a box and shipped it to me overnight. The package arrived in Baltimore the next day with instructions on revival, usage and normal care of the starter. For the next six months, I dutifully used and replenished the sourdough every week or two. This sounds like a relatively easy task, but one can only consume so much bread each week. Pretty soon, I ran out of people who wanted sourdough creations and the freezer began to fill up with a backlog of bread items.

Finally, I found a pizza dough recipe that was 1. really easy and 2. froze well for those lunch/dinner pizza’s on the fly. Suddenly, the sourdough and I were getting along great…until early November. As the weeks passed, I neglected the glass jar in the back corner of the fridge and as more weeks passed I gave up. I decided it was dead and there was nothing I could do.

AND THEN mom told me that I could save it.

So yesterday morning I pulled it out of the fridge, dumped a little bit out and added about ½ cup flour and a ¼ cup of water, stirred it, and left it out on the counter all day. I added a little more flour last night and left it out again night. THIS morning, there were bubbles [signs of life!].

In the spirit of the holiday season, and the newly revived sourdough, I decided to make some gingerbread.

Sourdough Gingerbread:

½ cup butter

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

½ cup molasses

½ tsp vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

¾ cup sourdough starter

¼-1/2 cup hot water (depending on how wet the batter is)


Cream butter and sugars together, beat in egg, vanilla and molasses. Mix dry ingredients (flour-cloves) together separately and stir into the wet. When it is thoroughly mixed, add sourdough and ¼ cup hot water, stir gently until mixed. Batter should be wet but not runny (think brownies), add more water if needed.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 40-50 min at 375.

Possibly, I have started again on the never-ending cycle of sourdough making and excess bread falling on top of my roommates and I every time we open the door. But at least I know I didn’t kill it.

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