Sourdough Bootcamp Day Five
Updated: May 21, 2020
Sourdough popovers for supper, and tales of triumph and woe
Sourdough Popovers, the triumphant ones
Hi everyone! I hope your day went well yesterday, and I hope you loved your scones. I’ve seen some beautiful pictures being posted on FB and IG, well done!
I’ve been working on our recipe for today: Popovers. Also known as Yorkshire Pudding,that classic accompaniment to roast beef dinner with lots of gravy. But popovers are wonderful with whipped cream or yogurt and berries too, or just good old butter and jam.
I did not have instant success with my popover baking. But if you’re anything like me, when you’re reading a recipe blog post you want the recipe first, story after. So let’s cut to the chase--the recipe that resulted in triumph--and I’ll save my tale of woe for the end.
But first, to the starter.
This is my starter on the morning of Day Five:
Sourdough starter, morning of Day Five
The nail-polish aroma is nearly gone, and it's smelling more like plain yogurt. Do you notice that it looks almost like separated cream? That's evidence that it's time for a feeding, to give the yeasts and bacteria more food to process.
Today we’re going to build up some volume in the starter by adding more flour and water, to generate more material for our recipes tomorrow and the day after.
And tomorrow, Day Six, we’re going to increase the feeding schedule to twice a day.
Tomorrow we'll be making Sourdough Cheddar and Parmesan Scones; don't worry if you don't have the cheese in yet, you can make another batch of berry scones, or use a combination of dried fruit and nuts.
Today, Day Five, remove 70 g (1/4 cup) of your starter and pour it into a clean, medium-sized bowl. This is the beginning of your popover batter.
Feed the remaining starter: Measure or weigh the remaining starter. (Mine was 278 g this morning.)
Pour it into a clean container.
Calculate what half the amount of your starter would be. (For me that’s 139 g.)
Add that amount flour and that amount* warm water to your starter. Whether you’re working with volume or weight, use this formula:
1 part starter
½ part flour
½ part warm water *plus enough additional warm water so that your starter is not stiff (this is mostly for those using weight)
Those who are using volume will have a more hydrated starter; at this stage of the game, that’s fine. In fact, it's always fine, but we'll talk about hydration at a later date.
Stir, cover loosely and return your starter to its warm place.
Now, on to popovers.
[adapted from sourdoughandolives.com]
Popovers and Yorkshire Pudding rely on steam for their rising: "What happens is the egg and flour creates a crust on the surface very quickly, but there is still lots of liquid below. And when the liquid gets hot, it generates steam, expanding in volume. And the only way to expand is upwards, bringing the crust and everything with it." ---sourdoughandolives.com
You need a hot oven. First thing. And you need to resist opening the oven door during baking.
70 g (1/4 cup) sourdough starter
3 large eggs (2/3 cup) at room temperature
½ tsp sea salt
150 gr (2/3 cup) milk—I used 2%
110 gr (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
Place a muffin tin in the oven and preheat oven to 450F. Wait until the oven is up to temperature before you begin mixing batter.
Beat eggs thoroughly and whisk into starter. You may find that the starter clumps a bit, just keep whisking until the mixture is smooth.
Whisk in milk and salt.
Add the flour and whisk in all at once. Small lumps of flour are okay, but big ones are not.
Take the muffin tin from the oven. Melt a small pat of butter in six of the muffin cups, leaving space between them. Brush the butter into the entire cup and onto the tin around each of the six cups.
Put the tin back in the oven for 1 minute to heat up again---no longer than 1 minute, or the butter will burn.
Meanwhile, transfer the batter into a 2-cup measuring cup for easier pouring, scraping the bowl out with a spatula to get every bit of batter. Whisk the batter vigorously one more time, and pour into the muffin cups until almost full.
Put muffin tin into the oven and bake at 450F for 20 minutes. Don’t open the oven. If you want to see what’s happening, turn on the oven light.
After 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 10 to 15 until popovers are a deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and serve hot, if that works with your schedule, or cold if not.
Serving suggestions: for dinner, with a main course of roast beef or chicken and gravy, vegetable curry, or even as the bun for a sloppy Joe; for dessert with whipped cream or Greek yogurt and strawberry or raspberry jam; as a hearty appetizer with baked brie and rhubarb or cranberry chutney.
Sourdough popovers: the desired airy interior
Now, the Tale of Woe
It took me three attempts to get the popovers right—to achieve that gorgeous, lofty top and that airy interior.
Here are my first two attempts:
Sourdough popovers that didn't pop attempt one
Sourdough popovers that didn't pop attempt two
Let me be clear: THESE ARE NOT FAILS. These little non-popvers are delicious with butter and jam, as the bun for a slider, or warmed up at breakfast to eat with scrambled eggs. Think of them as the simplest of muffins.
If you don’t get the loft the first time you try popovers, enjoy the product of your hard work and try again later.
But here’s what I did.
I remembered that my pal, photographer Cathie Archbould, who makes fantastic Yorkshire Pudding, uses the same volume measurement of milk, eggs and flour in her recipe.
So I adjusted the original recipe, which called for 150 g of milk, or 2/3 cup, by adding an additional egg (to equal 2/3 cup) and adding additional flour (to equal 2/3 of a cup).
I calculated that the flour and water in the starter contributed 1 oz ( 28 g,1/8 cup) each of flour and liquid; so that the total liquid and total flour was the same—somewhere between 2/3 and ¾ of a cup; just slightly more than the volume of the eggs. Not precise science, but close.
Finally, I consulted King Arthur Flour on the subject of popovers, and learned to add all the flour at once, that small lumps in the batter are okay, and a couple of other tips.
And it worked. Now I can go for that bike ride. It's gorgeous out there. (My darling husband is having a non-popover sandwich of melted cheese and tomato, right now.)
I wish you the very best of luck, and please let me know on FB or IG how you did.