To keep a sourdough starter going it has to be fed regularly. Well, somewhat regularly. I admit that sometimes it goes six weeks or more between feedings, and then it takes a few days to get it back to its bubbly state. Usually the excess gets thrown away but there are lots of ways to use it. My first exposure to sourdough was through my best friend in high school, who also happens to be my husband’s cousin. She made us sourdough waffles. Although it was many years later when I first tried making actual sourdough bread, my starter has lived through some 25 years of my lapses in attention and still comes back to life. This recipe is new to me but I am happy to add it to my files.
There are many instructional videos and sites to help you get started with sourdough if it’s a mystery to you. Don’t be intimidated though. The first sourdough loaves I tried to sell, never having actually seen a real loaf, were pretty anemic. A customer even asked if they were parbaked and had to be finished at home. Ouch. But it didn’t take long to figure out how to handle it and I was soon selling dozens of loaves.
This recipe only uses a cup of starter. There is always about 1/2 cup in my refrigerator. It gets refreshed at 100% hydration, meaning equal parts of filtered water and flour are added, usually 100 grams of each. Then it sits for 12-24 hours, depending on the temperature and how long it’s been since it was last refreshed. Since my kitchen is cool, usually 65°F or less, a heating pad set on low comes in handy, placed under a bowl of rising dough or sourdough starter. It also helps to warm any liquid ingredients to lukewarm, no more than 100°F, before mixing them into the dough or starter. If the starter is intended for bread I refresh it 3 times at 12 hour intervals (again, sometimes it takes additional refreshments if it’s been ignored for a long time), increasing the amount of added water and flour each time, till there is enough strong starter to make at least 8 loaves. Discard the excess if necessary or save it for recipes like this. To get a cup for this cornbread I only had to refresh it once. Beg a friend or a bakery for a little starter in lieu of making your own, or order freeze-dried starter from Sourdoughs International. As mentioned in other posts it was what I used to get started some 25 years ago and it’s still going strong. Sourdough is my favorite bread to bake – getting so much flavor from just water, flour, salt, and whatever yeast is in your environment is a miracle.
– Joan, 30 August 2019
- 1 cup sourdough starter, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk, warmed to lukewarm, no more than 100°F
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix starter, milk, cornmeal and flour. Cover and let sit out on counter for 1-2 hours. (Look carefully at the two photos here. The top photo shows this mix right after mixing, the one on the left shows it after 2 hours, a noticeable difference.) While it rests, melt the butter, then whisk in the honey and eggs till well blended.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8″x8″ pan or prepare a muffin tin with paper liners.
After the sourdough mixture has rested stir in the wet ingredients, then mix in the baking powder and soda. Transfer to baking pan or muffin tin. Muffins should be filled almost to the top of the mold. An 8″ square pan will bake in about 40 minutes. Regular sized muffins will take 15-18 minutes.
Cool completely and store in a covered container. These stay moist and will have an even more pronounced sour flavor the day after baking. Just FYI, they are extra good with butter and raspberry jam.