Sourdough bread making has become an obsession. The bread is both science and art which I find interesting and challenging.
I had to read a lot and watch videos to understand the process. After which, it all clicked once I made the first, second, and third loaves.
To create my starter, I followed Clever Carrot's instructions. Many people name their starter; I named mine Homer after my beloved and dearly departed dog.
Once I read several sourdough recipes, I decided not to follow Clever Carrot's bread recipe. Instead, I went with Claire Saffitz's recipe (link in the resources section).
Learning is helpful with video, especially for cooking and baking. Sometimes the way recipes are written it can be hard for me to visualize. Therefore, I watched Claire Saffitz's video several times to follow along.
Mike Greenfield's video about sourdough mistakes was very helpful.
I won't bore you with the details on how I got on this sourdough journey, but I can summarize with saying that I feel pulled to create something that is meaningful, basic, simple, and sharable.
Combining my wooden board project with bread; I have created "Bread, Butter, and Boards". I have not met anyone that doesn't love bread so sharing the bread is easy. I've started with a couple of close friends to share my bread and boards, with a side of butter. I'll be giving away bread and boards as time and situations permit.
For these two bread and boards I share a half loaf because that is what fits on the board. I have to find a way to create a wider board to share full loaves.
Here are my first loaves.
Here is the crumb of these first loaves.
I'll keep practicing using a mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour for now. Until I get a few more loaves under my belt, literally and figuratively, I won't be trying other types of flour. I've read that the possibilities are endless but I'm not branching out just yet.
Bread and pasta hurt Whiskey's belly, so I don't cook a lot of meals with either. However, the fermentation of the sourdough and letting it ferment / proof for a full day before baking has created a bread that does not wreak havoc on Whiskey gut. This is good news. Not that I want to eat a lot of this bread, and trust me, it's really easy to eat a lot of it when freshly baked, but it is nice to have good bread that won't make you sick.
Each loaf has gotten better. I think because the weather is warm, and the bread is able to get very airy as it ferments.
I adapted Claire's recipe in way that makes sense to me and for making one loaf at a time (Claire's is for two). I share the PDF of that recipe here.
Garlic sourdough bread:
Then there are sourdough pancakes made with discard which are delicious. I had to rewrite a recipe from My Best Sourdough Pancakes | The Perfect Loaf
For me, recipes need to be written in the order of process and ingredient groupings. I often will rewrite recipes that makes sense to me which is usually simplified.
I've been making a loaf a week. It is irresistible. Making bread requires weighing ingredients on a scale; eating bread may require one to weigh themselves as they keep eating all of the bread. 😁
Here is the story behind the boards...click here.
Update October 16, 2023
Photos of recent loaves. You can see that they are improving in appearance, that's because I am using bannetons for proofing. At first, I didn't think they were needed but came to understand that they are important to help control the shape of the dough as it ferments. I am getting better at shaping and scoring.
My flour mix is 300g white bread flour, 100g whole wheat flour, and 100g dark rye flour. I like the mix; it gives a hearty flavor to the bread.
The best way to understand sourdough is to keep making it and get to know how the dough feels and responds to the room temperature which varies.
Just when I think I'm getting the hang of it, a recent loaf was over proofed. It seemed fine when I put into the fridge overnight, but in the morning, it was puffed up and not retaining its round shape. Thankfully, it baked up nicely and had a good crumb and tasted delicious. So not the prettiest shape, but still a success and another learning lesson. My goal is to make the bread without having to go to my notes. Taking photos of the loaves has helped me remember the process and the results.
I did some traveling recently in our motorhome and I wanted to bring bread and boards along to give to each of my sisters as we visited. I froze the bread and had the boards ready. I thawed the bread and prepared the boards for presentation.
The bread froze well. However, the motorhome fridge is not frost-free, so a bit of frost built up on the bread. I used a blow-dryer to dry out the tops of the bread. That worked perfectly.
I was away from home for two weeks. I was nervous about leaving my starter Homer unattended for that long. I gave Homer a healthy feeding before leaving on our trip.
When I returned home, I checked in on Homer and he was fine. I gave him a feeding, and all was well and made a loaf a few days later. Bread baking will continue, and I will hopefully have good results as the cooler weather arrives.
I recorded a video while making this loaf. It is LONG, but informative. I share my thoughts on what I've learned since my first loaf.
How I maintain my starter:
In a quart size mason jar with lid, I keep about 1/2 cup of starter for each feeding.
When it's time to feed "Homer", I take the jar out of the fridge, and I remove and "discard" any amount above 1/2 cup and I place that in a separate mason jar with lid. I then add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of warm water and I stir until all flour is hydrated. I set Homer aside in a warm place until it increases in volume, which is usually to 3 1/2 cups.