Sourdough Journey

Sourdough Journey

Paul Hollywood says that making sourdough bread is one of the hardest cooking skills to learn. So of course, I thought I need to learn. My initial interest started during the pandemic, along wiht the rest of the world, when I had more free time on my hands. I created my own starter and produced some decent bread. But due to moving from Chicago to western Michigan, sending my son off to college, starting to wrok again, it went to the wayside.

So why after two years start again? Frankly it just has always been in the back of my mind as a cooking skill that I have always wanted to learn and understand. I am not necessarily looking to be a super baker. In fact, I don’t really love baking. I am not a sweets person. But the bread is different. It feels more personal to me. There is more connection. And now the sourdough journey starts again.

I had forgotten of the great amount of patience required, especially in the beginning if you make your own starter from scratch. I started back in December 2023, creating my own starter. Reading all of the blogs, books, youtube videos, all say your starter should be ready in 5 days for baking bread and it will double in volume. This simply not true. It takes a while, weeks, for your starter to really become active enough for a decent loaf. Of course starting in December in Michigan was not the smartest time to start since it is so cold. But I started anyway. Here is me trying to get the starter to grow and keeping it warm, over the fireplace. I put it in the oven, ontop of my charging block, and it was just so sluggish and not growing at all. I had three different starters, trying to keep it warm in different areas of my home. I thought okay let me put in front of the fire. I did. It definately got warm. Warm to the point it was too warm. I killed it. (well I assume I did). I said let’s start over. And a new starter and new thinking on starter management also began.

I created my new starter with a recipe from the Perfect Loaf blog. Part AP flour and part rye. It was still cold outside but I had a thought that if i kept the starter in my bathroom with the space heater and a room thermometer, this might do the trick. And it did! After about two weeks I saw real action. Magnolia, that is what her name is now, started growing within 4-6 hours consistently. And now, I can keep her in my kitchen without keeping her in the bathroom with the space heater any longer. She is very active. And now the struggle with the bread. Having an active starter is one part, but knowing when to use it is another.

The journey continues on knowing your starter and when it’s at its peak to use making the bread. People all over the internet say the float test and that is an indicator but not a perfect one. You just have to get to know the starter. This is really part of this journey. Learning how to really now the signs of the bread and how things around you will affect the outcome.

I have had some success with some loafs and some great focaccia. And I have had more failures. But that is part of this journey. It will be constant learning and a test of patience. Getting back up and trying again when it does not go the right way. I personally have gain persceptive in myself. Oddly helping me find the message to not give up, just keep trying.

It’s pushed me into getting back to the blog and documenting my love for all things food. Helping me understand that it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just share what you love and others will love it too.