By Kristin Boza
Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a lot of new hobbies for many people. Some people have fostered an animal, while others took on a just-as-alive but not as hard to keep that way sourdough bread starter.
Anna Holland is an incredibly experienced baker who began her own home bread-making business, Double Dutch Sourdough, in January. Using her own sourdough starter, she has made a big name for herself locally as she devises new varieties of delicious breads that she sells each week.
Holland grew up in a family of bakers; her dad was a professional baker and her family owned a donut shop in Oconomowoc, Wisc., and Ptiacentine’s Artisan Breads in Milwaukee.
“I’ve been in a bakery for my entire life, and grew up baking muffins and quick breads for my family’s shop,” Holland said. “My brother, who is a chef in California, visited and encouraged me to grow my own sourdough starter. My husband bought me a sourdough bread cookbook for Christmas and I just started experimenting with the different types and flavors of bread.”
Quickly, however, Holland’s family was overrun by bread so she began gifting the product of her hobby to friends and neighbors. “Everyone liked my bread and I started thinking that maybe people would buy it,” she said. “I started advertising on the Moms of Beverly, Beverly Free Box, and Beverly Buy Sell Facebook groups, which eventually evolved into starting my own Instagram page and website.”
On her website, DoubleDutchSourdough.com, customers can see what Holland is planning on baking that week and can place an order, including plain sourdough bread, focaccia, sweeter sourdough bread, brioche cinnamon rolls, croissants, and danish. She said about 40 loaves are sold each week. “I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested; I’m still a very small operation in my home oven, and I can only mix enough dough for eight loaves at a time,” she said. “But it’s perfect because it leaves me plenty of time for my day job and I get to also do something I absolutely love to do.”
Starting and maintaining a sourdough base is pretty easy. Begin with equal parts flour and water and cultivate it in a sealed jar or container. “Wild yeast is everywhere, in the air, on our hands, and on everything we touch,” Holland said. “The flour and water mix will begin to bubble and ferment as it captures the bacteria and yeast in the air. You know you have a healthy sourdough starter when it bubbles, rises, and doubles in size every six-to-eight hours.”
The trick is to literally feed the starter as needed. Holland starts with a half cup of flour and a half cup of water, letting it sit for 12 hours. Then she throws away all but one tablespoon of the mix and adds another half cup of flour and half cup of water. “Do this process over and over — discarding and feeding — until it bubbles and ferments. This can take anywhere from seven to 14 days,” Holland said. Depending on if a sweeter or drier bread is wanted, the starter can be manipulated with more or less water, or equal parts.
Feeding the sourdough means adding more flour to it. “I feed mine three times a day so it’s always super strong and I can use it whenever I want for bread,” Holland said. “If you bake bread once a week, keep the starter in the fridge; 24 hours before baking, take it out and refresh it two or three times before using it for baking. Feed it once a week or every couple of weeks, it all depends on how strong it is growing and how often you plan to use it.” She also advises using a mason jar and switching it out to a clean one every other day.
Note that there is a lot of starter that is discarded during the growing and maintaining phases; however, this is usable starter and can be incorporated into cakes, pancakes, or waffles to cut down on waste. “You just can’t keep all of your starter because you will end up with an exorbitant amount and the ratios would begin to become off,” Holland said. “For people baking at home and starting the process, be patient! That’s the beauty of working with sourdough, you just can’t rush it. It will be ready when it wants to be ready. It’s an incredible creative outlet.”
Find out more about Holland and her bread at DoubleDutchSourdough.com.
Summer Berry Crumble Sourdough Cake
1 cup sourdough discard (you can use as little as a 1/2 cup if you don’t have that much)
1 cup milk
1 cup all–purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 vegetable oil or mild olive oil
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup fresh berries
For the crumble
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup butter
pinch of salt
Rub together until large crumbs form and butter is coated. If it seems to dry or crumbs are really fine, add a tbsp more butter
Whisk starter, egg, and milk until starter is completely blended in
Add flour, sugar, salt, oil, and baking powder and mix until just combined and there are no lumps
Prepare an 8–inch round or square cake pan with parchment and nonstick spray
Pour batter into pan. Top with berries and then crumble.
Set aside to rest for 30 minutes while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Crumble should be light golden brown.
If you like more sweetness, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp milk, water, or lemon juice and a 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract for a quick glaze to put on top of cake when it’s cool.