After decades of procrastinating, I bought some sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. Sourdough starter is “a fermented dough retained from one baking to another,” according to their site. For $8.95, King Arthur sent me a small plastic jar containing one ounce of their classic starter.
I fed it. (I’m a good person.)
I gave it a name. (Kellyanne.)
And I waited.
Kellyanne frothed like she was supposed to. Then, after eight hours sitting on the top of my microwave, she began to emit little gas bubbles that floated to the top of the starter batter.
Kellyanne was alive!
(I felt like Dr. Frankenstein must have felt when the monster came to life–or, at least, like Gene Wilder did.)
Then, I procrastinated again. Kellyanne languished in my refrigerator.
Whenever I opened my refrigerator, there sat Kellyanne. Guilt. I felt guilt.
So I fed her every day or two. I owed her that.
Crankily (is that a word?), it seemed to me that I had added one more hungry creature to my seemingly-endless morning feeding ritual here in Huntington Beach. Kibble for Juliet. Bananas and Harrison’s for Moti. Pellets for the Koi. And now, flour and water for Kellyanne.
Then, in one of my late night bouts of sleeplessness, I tapped in “sourdough recipes” and there was grandma–grandma’s sourdough biscuits that is–with forty-five positive reviews. “Pollen,” who posted the recipe, cooed that her grandma “makes these every time we go over to dinner.” Bleary-eyed, I decided that, if these biscuits were good enough for Pollen and her Grandma, they might be good enough for me and Kellyanne. I pushed print.
Before I post the recipe, let me me give you a little more of Kellyanne’s bio.
King Arthur’s Flour boasts that Kellyanne is a sourdough starter “lovingly nurtured for over a century.” This piqued my interest. It’s 2017. A hundred years would put Kellyanne’s birth roughly around the time of World War I. It was a stinking war but I liked the connection. Since sourdough starter is a marriage of local wild yeast with lactobacilli, that means my Kellyanne is a modern-day bit of time travel. Kellyanne is related to the wild yeast that was floating around when Wilson was President, Ataturk was beginning the great republican experiment in Turkey (that Erdogan is destroying), Wilfred Owen was writing “Dulce et Decorum est” and Siegfried Sassoon was writing “Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.” How cool is that?
Moving beyond the history… According to the King Arthur Flour site, when sourdough starter is fed, you make it your own. The wild yeast, a tiny fungus, here in Huntington Beach insinuates itself into my Vermont-originated starter from King Arthur and a unique new living leavening is born. So, Kellyanne is mine. The biscuits you eat at my table are unlike any you might eat even a mile away. Again, how cool is that?
So, how long has this been going on? Apparently, records of sourdough microflora date back at least to 1500 b.c. and the Ancient Egyptians. Wild beer drinkers that they were (I didn’t know that.), there was a lot of wild yeast floating around Upper Egypt. Serendipitously, some of the wild yeast from the beer settled into some flour and there you were–sourdough starter.
Here is the link to King Arthur’s Flour:
Yields 8 Biscuits Ingredients Instructions
Yields 8 Biscuits
Here is the link to the original recipe for Grandma’s Sourdough Biscuits: