At the beginning of the year I had 3 big goals (more goal than resolution in my case,) for 2018.
Read 25 books (which I will most definitely fail at, I’m now hoping for 12,)
Learn to knit (which I have done and will be posting about soon!)
and learn to make sourdough!
An expert sourdough baker I’m not, but since starting late spring I’ve learned a ton from trial and error, and wanted to post about it for any of you sourdough hopefuls out there. This way I can point you in the right direction of what has been useful for me, and build on that as I continue to learn!
I also have wonderful recipes for sourdough waffles and sourdough pizza crust that I’d like to share and this seemed like the natural first step!
The key to making sourdough is of course sourdough starter. I feel like I cheated a little bit here because I was given some starter from a foodie friend who was lucky to have a really wonderful, well established starter.
Because of this, my bread turned out pretty great by my 2nd attempt and I’ve had very few failed attempts in the 20 or so loaves I’ve made in the last few months.
Obviously not everyone is going to be able to get their hands on a well-established starter so I’m here to talk you through your options.
1-Ask around in your local groups for anyone that has some well-established starter. I hate wasting starter so am always happy to share mine with my friends and neighbors who have reached out. Chances are someone you know has some and is willing to pass some on. (Or buy some starter from King Arthur’s Flour! A comment below let me know that they sell great starter so you can get started.) It’s fresh starter too so it should work well.
2-Play the long game and make your own. It’s totally doable, and only takes a few weeks to get it going- and soon after you’ll have well established starter of your own to pass along. Now I didn’t go this route so I can’t write about it, but I have some great resources. The blog The Perfect Loaf is a must read/follow as you being this journey, as Maurizio has tons of wonderful insights and information. I didn’t follow his recipe for the bread itself, but I know several people who have had a lot of luck with his starter method which can be found here.
For my bakes I use the method found in the Tartine cookbook, which I have found so useful in this process. My copy is so full of flour and sourdough starter the pages are stuck together, but that’s what we are going for right? The recipe is below- please comment below with any questions!
One note on special supplies for bread baking before the recipe: there are a few things that have been very helpful in my bread baking, some more essential than others.
1- A kitchen scale. This one is a must. All the ingredients are weighed vs. being measured by volume and it’s important to have that precision when making your dough.
2-Banneton or proofing basket. This one is definitely optional, I have one and usually make 2 loaves a go, using a round, towel-lined bowl for the other. I do like the ridge pattern that comes from using the basket though, and it’s the perfect size for the loaf.
3-Razor blade or bread lame. This is pretty important in my opinion. You can manage to bake sourdough without it, and score with your sharpest knife, but the super clean scoring that results in beautiful loaves, is best done with a super sharp blade. I use one of Andy’s razor blades like this. (carefully.)
4- Dutch oven or Cast Iron Combo Cooker. A sturdy, covered cooking vessel is needed to trap steam and help your bread get that perfectly crusty crust and soft pillowy texture. I use my 5.5 qt Le Creuset, but it’s not idea to be honest. Dropping the dough into the deep pan can be tricky at times. I plan to add the Lodge Combo Cooker onto my Christmas list this year- it’s inexpensive and really easy to place your dough on, cover and put back in the oven.
Recipe from Tartine Bread cookbook
Turning the dough:
Forming the dough/bench rest:
Recipe from Tartine Bread cookbook
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