They say that sourdough is the pinnacle of a baker’s repertoire.
I’ve been dabbling in sourdough for about a year and a half; ironic for someone who doesn’t really eat bread. But the fermentation in the sourdough makes it easier for the body to digest than other breads…which makes it a health food, I guess. It’s become something I’m pretty obsessed with, especially when I visit the UK – home of sourdough.
My first attempt at baking a sourdough loaf ended in failure: I threw the ingredients together like I did any other dish and didn’t think about the complexities of bread making. I threw it out.
My first sourdough; Jan 16, 2016
I didn’t put the care and time into developing a good sourdough. It takes at least a week to create the starter (fermentation process), plus actually making the bread after that. It seems like something was always wrong: I was traveling or the weather was too chilly to foster the fermentation.
Before I went to the US, I was home for two weeks. I decided this was my time to start again with the starter.
This time, I fed it every day, I cared for it and I developed a very active starter. I took some home for mother’s day and baked my very first successful sourdough with my mom. How much more special could it get?
Our rising dough
Slicing the top before baking
The end result
Although we struggled to find a reasonably simple recipe, and had to deal with unexpected issues: making an autolyse, the temperature that a pizza stone could undergo, mold on the starter, it was such a worthwhile end result. When we took the bread out of the oven, it was painful to let it cool. We passed the bread around the table and couldn’t stop eating it. We all agreed it was better than anything you would find in a restaurant.
Since then, I’ve been back in my apartment trying out different recipes, different combinations of flour and different types of sourdough (from brownies to english muffins). And it’s all been such a great learning experience.
I even gave the starter to some friends to look after while I was gone – and now they love having “their” bread too.
The process of kneading the dough and mixing the ingredients and not knowing what the outcome will be makes it even that much more fun. Yes, I threw away some bread yesterday. It just didn’t work. But I’ve also delivered delicious bread to my neighbors and friends. There has been a lot of enjoying breaking bread with friends. How Biblical of us.
So this tale of baking is to be continued. It’s a process…and I’m having so much fun with it.