When I first discovered a potato flake sourdough starter, given to me by a good friend, I asked myself the same question. What is a potato flake sourdough starer? I’ve since learned a lot, experimented, and developed recipes. I’m excited to share with you everything I know (so far), so you won’t have to discover it all the hard way!
So what is a potato flake sourdough starter?
Similar to a traditional sourdough starter, a potato flake sourdough starter is a live active culture made of fermented potato flakes, sugar and water that is full of beneficial bacteria and yeasts.
It uses active dry yeast in the beginning when you first make the starter, but will quickly adapt to the natural occurring yeasts in your environment and thrive from them instead.
It is used to ferment dough recipes and cause a natural rise in your bread.
What are potato flakes?
Have you ever had mashed potatoes made from a box? Those little flakes that you rehydrate and they turn into mashed potatoes. Well, it’s a simple as that! Those are the potato flakes that you will use in your starter.
Just be sure that the potato flake you are using are plain and not flavored. I don’t think you (or any one else) wants garlic and chive flavored starter. Might be good for garlic bread, but no so much for pancakes!
I don’t notice a difference in my starter based on the brand of potato flakes I use. I usually just buy what is on sale, but next time I buy some I’m thinking about giving this organic brand a try.
What is a potato flake starter made of?
When you make yours for the very first time, you will use water, active dry yeast, potato flakes, and sugar. After it is established, you will no loner use yeast. It will simply be made up of water, sugar, and potato flakes and the natural yeasts from your environment .
How does a potato flake starter make the bread rise?
Like mentioned, your starter will begin to thrive off of the natural yeasts in your environment. Those yeasts are what cause the dough to rise and give it such a delightful flavor. What makes the yeasts do that? In order to reproduce, the yeasts will convert simple carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and ethanol.
In a potato flake starter those carbs come from the potato flakes as well as the sugar.
This process that takes place is a type of fermentation. While the yeasts feed on the sugars, they multiple. This happens more quickly when the temperature is warm, but can still happen when the temperature is cooler, but at a much slower speed.
This reproduction of yeasts produces carbon dioxide. When this happens it will create gas bubbles in the dough, therefore causing it to rise. When the dough is baked or heated at a high temperature, the bubbles will become even bigger. This is how you are left with a fluffy, soft loaf of airy bread.
What makes a potato flake starter different from a traditional starter?
The main difference between the two are the ingredients. While a traditional starter contains only water and flour, in a potato flake starter you will find water, potato flakes, and sugar.
Although they contain different ingredients, they essentially work the same.
Another difference between the two is the appearance of the starter when it is active. In an active potato flake starter you will see a foamy layer of bubbles at the top, a foggy looking liquid in the middle, and a mass, made up mostly of potato flakes at the bottom.
Why choose a potato flake starter?
It is true, you could just use a traditional four and water starter to bake your bread instead. I’ve given that I try. However, I have had much better results with my potato flake sourdough starter.
Of course, it is all a matter of opinion but, for what it’s worth, I prefer my potato flake sourdough starter over traditional sourdough. Since it contains sugar, it is sweeter and naturally leads itself to sweeter breads. This makes it a perfect starter for desserts and any bread with a hit of sweetness (like sandwich bread). It is also perfect for anyone that is not a fan of the “sour” taste of sourdough. I discovered that it also creates a lighter and more fluffy bread than traditional flour and water sourdough starter. It has also been easier for me to maintain and always gives me such a great rise.
Why not just use yeast?
Packaged yeasts are definitely a more convenient and quicker option. The main reason that you should choose using a sourdough starter instead of yeast is because of the health benefits. It’s also a fun hobby to play around with.
The reason your health benefits from using a starter instead of yeast, is that because of the fermentation that occurs, the bread is much easier to digest and is much better for your gut health.
Who would benefit from potato flake sourdough?
A reason you might want to choose a potato flake starter is because it is gluten free and dairy free. This will allow for more flexibility if you or someone in your family has allergies or a specific diet. If this is important to you, double check the yeast you buy to make your starter, not all are gluten free. Here is a gluten free yeast that will work for making your starter.