My First Sourdough Starter

Imagine this: You are sitting in a New York City bus terminal at 5:00 on a Sunday morning having spent the past four hours barely able to sleep on the bus. You hear screaming children, and the *NSYNC holiday album is playing in the background. You need to make it two more hours to your next bus. You realize you’ve made a grave error.

All joking aside, I am happy to be on my way to see my friends for the first time since I moved away, but I doubt I’ll be choosing to do an overnight again.

With some to time to kill, I want to talk about another new project of mine. For a graduation present, our lead culinary instructor gifted us all some sourdough starter. This is my first ever starter, so I had no idea what to do with this.

I came home and immediately started researching how to care for it. How do I store it? How often do I need to feed it? How do I feed it? The short answer is that if I keep it in the fridge I can feed it once a week.

I was in absolutely no shape to be making an actual sourdough bread any time soon. Not only was I about to be in and out of town due to holiday travels, but I have so much bread stocked in my freezer from class. I need to clear out my freezer before I consider making more bread.

However, I didn’t want to just throw away my discarded starter when I did my first feeding. As I tend to do, I turned to the internet for inspiration on what to do with discarded starter. King Arthur Flour actually has quite a number of recipes on their website.

What I decided to do was make sourdough pizza dough. This seemed easy enough. Plus, I figured it could feed me the week in between graduation and traveling home for Christmas without having to do any extensive cooking or grocery shopping.

I let my dough ferment on the counter overnight, and then I formed the dough into 4 individual discs and let them rest in the fridge until ready to use. I got four personal size pizzas from this dough.

I had this idea to make a Spanish inspired pizza. I had been at Whole Foods the day before shopping for baking needs, and I saw this beautiful cured Spanish chorizo. I wanted to try it but decided to pass. So, back to Whole Foods I went.

I picked up the chorizo, some piquillo peppers, and manchego cheese (aged six months). The younger manchego is a little softer, which is better for melting quality. I already had some shredded mozzarella at home. I can’t imagine a pizza without mozzarella, but the manchego would fit my theme better. So, I used a mix of both.

As should probably be expected, my first pizza was my worst, and my last pizza was my best. That isn’t to say the first ones were bad. They were quite tasty. It just took me a few tries to figure out the perfect time to take the pizza out of the oven. I baked them at 450, so I was afraid of burning them. By letting them cook a few minutes longer, it greatly improved the texture of the crust. That last pizza was absolutely perfect. Great sauce; lovely crust; tasty toppings.

I will certainly be making sourdough pizza in the future, but there are other recipes I want to try, like biscuits and pancakes. Eventually, I’ll make my way up to an actual sourdough bread.