Sourdough Oats and Nuts Granola

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , May 6, 2019

Every Sunday morning, once I get back from the dog park, I take out my ceramic canister of sourdough starter and let it come to room temperature. Then I empty out about two ounces and feed it equal parts flour and water–two ounces each (which is call 100 percent hydration). It’s my weekend ritual. We all have them–and, yes, this one’s kind of unusual.

Even if you’re not a bread baker, keeping a sourdough started can be hugely useful. It can add moisture and flavor not just to chocolate cakes and banana bread, but also crackers and pretzels–and even granola. Weird, huh? I had to admit it wasn’t an idea original to me but something I had found online and since I enjoy granola and had the main ingredients in my pantry and freezer I thought I’d try it out. And I’m sharing it with you because it would make a great client gift or a surprise treat when you’re catering brunch.

What does the sourdough starter add to granola? Think of it as a tangy binder. Once it’s added and then baked you can’t see it. But, thanks to its subtle flavor, you’ll know it’s there.

Now while you can use the spent starter you will want to refresh it a bit. So the first thing to do is mix it with a little water, a little flour, and some brown sugar. Then, let it sit on the counter for three or four hours. It’ll get a little bubbly. This releases more flavor than it would straight out of the fridge and the flavor is what you’re after here.

Once your starter is ready, preheat your oven and start mixing the other ingredients. The dry ones obviously go together first. And you can be flexible with the type, amount,  and proportion of nuts and seeds you use.

Add your honey or maple syrup to the starter mixture, along with vanilla and oil, then whisk it together and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir it all up and spread it onto a half sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Off into the oven it goes. After it’s baked, let it cool before breaking it up into little pieces and adding dried fruit, cocoa nibs, or whatever strikes your fancy. I had lots of different packages of dried fruit, some chocolate-covered cocoa nibs, and dried coconut flakes that I added.

The result is a great mix for cocktail parties–or in a bowl with milk. It’s sweet and savory and very crunchy. And it’s a versatile foundation for creating a snack based on your specific tastes or needs. You can add more brown sugar or honey/maple syrup for a sweeter flavor–or add mini chocolate chips or other sweets as well as cinnamon or cardamom. Alternately, you can minimize the sweetness and create a savory granola with more seeds and the addition of dried herbs. Even as is I sprinkled a handful into a bowl of my Roasted Red Kuri Squash Soup and the sweetness really complemented the sweet spicy soup and gave that thick texture some crunch.

Sourdough Oats and Nuts Granola

Ingredients
4 ounces sourdough starter (100 percent hydration–meaning equal parts flour and water)
1 ounce room temperature water
2 ounces brown sugar (light or dark)
1 ounce flour (AP, white whole wheat, or whole wheat)
½ teaspoon sea salt
5 ½ ounces rolled oats
2 ½ ounces lightly toasted nuts
2 ounces mixed seeds
2 ounces honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ ounces neutral oil, like grapeseed
Dried fruit, cacao nibs, crystallized ginger, coconut flakes, or other add ins

Directions
Mix first 4 ingredients and let sit at room temperature to ferment  for 4 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 300 F.

Combine salt, rolled oats, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl.

Whisk honey/maple syrup, vanilla, and oil into the starter mixture, then pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Spread in a thin layer on a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Check in between to make sure your granola isn’t getting too brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Then break the granola into pieces and add dried fruit, etc. once completely cool. Store in airtight container.

Do you make granola? What are your favorite ingredients to include?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Have any of you mixed and cultivated your own sourdough starter–and then given it up? I have. Much as I loved baking bread it began to feel like a burden. I just couldn’t keep up. But what I didn’t consider was that sourdough starter didn’t require bread baking to be useful. There are all sorts of other baked goods you can make with it.

There’s also another option. If you haven’t cultivated starter, you need to know that it requires regular feeding with equal parts flour and water–but before you add the new you have to discard much of the old. The Friendship Bread Project, also known as Amish friendship bread, encourages people to share their discarded starter with friends–like a benign chain letter.

But what if on a given week you don’t have anyone to share it with and you don’t want to just throw it away? I did some research and found that there are lots of ways to use discarded starter: pancakes and waffles, cakes, quick breads, muffins, crackers, and crepes. Some you can use with just the weakened starter. For others, like the English muffins I tried that were an epic fail, I learned you need to feed first. My friend Joanne Sherif, who owns San Diego’s Cardamom Cafe & Bakery, has been using hers for cornbread and banana bread, which you can buy at the bakery.

Initially, when I decided to use up my discards before the weekly feeding, I had a limited range of options,  but only because of simple quantity–my first discards were limited to half a cup. When I fed the starter I added four ounces each of King Arthur white whole wheat flour and water. (And note, I add ingredients by weight, not volume.) Unless I need more starter for a big baking project, I’ll add two ounces of flour and water each in the future, let it sit on the counter for several hours until it bubbles up, then store it in the fridge. I put a line on the see-through container that shows the starting point so I can see how much it grows (I still find that hugely exciting). Because it’s being refrigerated I only need to feed it weekly. If left on the counter, it would need daily feeding. I don’t think I have enough interested friends to share discards from that or the time to use it up daily.

As I scoured online resources I came across a site I wasn’t familiar with but that I discovered, along with the ever-reliable King Arthur Flour, is hugely informative: Cultures for Health. The site has an entire section devoted to how to use discarded starter. And from there I found my recipe: Chocolate Sourdough Snack Cake.

Yes, I was lured by biscuits, including biscuits with cheddar cheese, and pretzels, and English muffins… but I didn’t have enough starter. Curious about a sourdough dessert, and honestly getting a little desperate, I clicked on desserts and found this cake. Bingo! It sounded divine–and only needed half cup of starter.

This recipe is super simple and yields a deep chocolate brownie-like consistency. It calls for baking in a cake pan, but I fiddled around with measurements and decided to use a loaf pan instead–and it worked just fine. I also didn’t have non-alkalized cocoa powder and worried that since the recipe called for baking soda there might be an issue. But no, it all turned out well. (I’ve since found–and ordered–natural cocoa powder for when this comes up again.)

I actually didn’t taste much of a sour/tangy flavor from the starter, but the cake benefitted in moistness and richness. And, oh, how wonderful it is with a cup of coffee or tea.

And, really, the point of this bake was to demonstrate to myself that I could relax a bit about having a starter again since the pressure is off to bake bread at a pace I can’t keep up with. In fact, the following week I did  bake crackers–something you could do for clients you’re making appetizers for if you’re catering a dinner party or event.

And, if anyone in San Diego would like my discards, let me know. I’m happy to share when I feed on Sundays.

Chocolate Sourdough Snack Cake
From Cultures for Health

Ingredients

1 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. cold, strong coffee
1/2 cup fresh sourdough starter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts or naturally sweetened mini chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper; lightly butter and set aside.
3. Mix unrefined sugar and butter together in a large bowl until sugar is thoroughly incorporated into butter. Beat in egg, vanilla, coffee, and sourdough starter.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until batter is mixed through.
6. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Do not overmix.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool on a rack and serve plain or frosted.

Do you keep a sourdough starter? What kinds of treats do you make with it?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!