So I’ve recently been on a bit of a sourdough adventure. It started with someone asking me if I’d ever tried it, and my realising that there’s a whole aspect of bread that I’m missing out on. I think the idea of keeping a starter alive intimidated me for a long time, but the fact that lots of food bloggers I admire and follow have jumped on the sourdough hype recently meant it felt right to take that journey with them.
All it took was a quick Google, having some rye flour in my cupboard from those cookies I made last month, and finding a jar big enough to hold it. There are lots of ways of starting a sourdough culture, but I found the easiest way for me was to mix an unbleached, organic rye flour (so that more bacteria are knocking around, cause you’ll need them) and some water, and I went from there. Click here to follow the method I used. It takes a week to get one started so I’d recommend starting at a time when you have a moment to feed it every 12 hours: I liked to do it before I left for work, and at 8pm when I was winding down and heading up to my room for the night, but it’s not good to leave it going too long outside of those timings as it gets pretttty potent. I ended up having to cart my jar all the way to Bath from London when I stayed with my sister as it had 1-2 more days left of 12-hour feeds, which I don’t recommend as I find feeding my starter SO MESSY. I felt like my housemates hated how flour and starter managed to wrangle it’s way into every nook and cranny of our teeny kitchen, as well as how the sourdough discards leaked through our bin bag… oops.
That’s one thing I struggled with, the discards, they feel wasteful, they’re too liquid to be binned but too thick to go down the sink, what do you do with them? (I would compost them if I still had a compost bin, but we have a pest problem here and my council doesn’t offer collection for it yet so I can’t, waaaah.) But that’s why I’m now constantly looking for a way to use it up rather than pour it into a baggie and chuck away, which also bothers me because of the double plastic element, so seeing Izy Hossack post the recipe for these was a bit of a godsend. Now that my starter is settled, I only have to feed him (he’s called Stanley) once a week and he lives in our fridge. Saturday is usually feeding day and is also my baking day so it works quite well to do both at the same time. Which is how these beautiful, flavourful brownies came to play. No flour involved, the starter does all the work, and just some whipping of eggs and melting of butter and you have a gooey brownie to behold.
(Adapted from Izy Hossack’s recipe)
150g dark chocolate
50g salted butter
60g vegetable oil
50g dark cocoa powder
120g sourdough starter (mine was starved for a week in the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp flaky/coarse sea salt
2 eggs and 1 egg white (I used medium and they worked out okay)
150g caster sugar
110g light brown sugar
2 tbsp water
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/170˚C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Line a square 18″ brownie pan with parchment, leaving a ‘lip’ to go over two edges for easy removal.
Gently melt your butter, oil and chocolate together in a small pan. Take off the heat once half the chocolate has melted and allow to continue to melt on the side. Tip in your cocoa, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and sourdough starter once the mix has slightly cooled.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars for 10 minutes until light and airy. Add in the water and whisk again, then fold in the chocolate mix until combined. It will be quite a loose mix, but don’t worry too much.
Pour into your pan and cook for 30-40 mins until only the centre is only slightly wobbly/unset. Set aside to cool, and sprinkle some good quality flaky sea salt over the top while it’s still hot. Slice up when cooled if you want neater slices, otherwise, hack away at it when it’s still warm, but the centre has set up.
Eat 1, or 3, by themselves or with custard/ice cream and fresh raspberries. These would also be great with some chocolate scattered on the top 5/10 mins into the bake so that they don’t sink to the bottom, or topped with a creamy salted caramel frosting. The sourdough means that they’re not as classically sweet, but instead the savouriness of the starter paired with the chocolate makes these taste rich and tangy and a little more grown up. It’s the kinda brownie that you get from a good bakery, and an upgrade from the classic American style very sweet brownie. I’m not sure I can look back!
I really hope this has inspired you to give sourdough a go, it’s not just confined to bread making and having the time to prove the dough etc!
As always, keep baking,
Love Sian xx