Here is my sourdough story. And like sourdough it will grow.
In the Spring of 2021 I decided to give sourdough a try. As usual, I was a bit late to the trend that had caught on over the past year while everyone was in quarantine. I don’t mind being late to the table though as this gives everyone else a chance to figure out what is and isn’t working and then advise me when I finally join! I wanted to make sourdough bread during my spring break from teaching so I hopped on to Amazon and started ordering supplies. A good $75 later I had baskets for rising, a bench scraper, jars, a Danish whisk and even a packet of starter. Ready set go!
OK… maybe my 9 day vacation isn’t going to be enough time for this endeavour! I somehow thought the starter I bought would be started and ready to go. Nope, I have to mix this dry packet of whatever it is with flour and water. Now that I know a bit more about sourdough I’m not sure what I just paid $10 for as all you need to start your sourdough is flour and water. And, to make matters worse, my starter never grew anything other than pink mold! I was beginning to get discouraged so I reached out to the world of social media and between my cousin (2000 miles away) and a good friend (4 miles away) I was reinspired and ready to go.
My cousin gave me lots of simple tips, helped me weed through the excess of websites and videos, and encouraged me to stick with it. My friend gave me a live starter (woot woot!) and let me sample the delicious crackers she made with her excess starter.
For my first attempt I used a recipe I found online and on about step 7 of 13 steps, and hours into the process, my dough completely failed! I tried letting it proof in the oven with the light on and that was way too warm. It ate itself – who knew baking bread could be so savage!
With just two days left in my spring vacation, using a simpler recipe, I made my first successful loaf of bread! The dough stuck to the banneton (proofing basket) so I didn’t have a nice smooth loaf to work with, but we will call that rustic and make it work. The important part is that it tasted fantastic and I have to admit I got a little emotional when I first bit into it!
I immediately made another loaf the next day and this one went perfectly. I was even able to use my lame (fancy type of razor blade) to create a beautiful design on my bread. And as an added bonus, the starter I was trying to grow from scratch actually started to grow!!
Next hurdle… My cousin tells me I have to name my starter! Oh the pressure! So the sourdough my friend gave me became Carroll, named after her, and the starter I created myself became Homer, because I’d been saying “Sour Doh!” and channeling Homer Simpson as I said it. Fast forward another month and I decided I only needed one doughy child to care for and I took a bit of Carroll and a bit of Homer and created Elliott, named after my sweet cousin!
I’ve been baking bread and other goodies for a couple of months now and I’m completely addicted. I enjoy baking, and eating, the bread. But I think I enjoy all of the other goodies I’ve made even more. So far I’ve made multiple loaves of sourdough bread, berry muffins, pancakes, sandwich bread, crackers, banana bread, bagels and brownies. And the list of goodies I am excited to try is long and yummy!
So, this is my story of taking my sourdough from “Doh!” to Whoa! In my next post I will share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.