Long time no post! There has been a tragic lack of baking in my house of late because I am doing a new exercise and nutrition program, which involves some seriously strict clean eating habits. (I know, I know…boo… hiss!) But I want to get back on track with posts in spite of this, I’ve been missing my blog! This specific post has been a long time in the making, so I’m finally putting my finishing touches on it and getting it posted!
Remember when I said that I love all potatoes cooked any way and every way under the sun? The same is true for bread. But of all the breads, sourdough bread is my all time favorite.
After finishing The Great British Baking Show (like every single episode on Netflix. In a very short period of time. Including Masterclass. Oops. #sorrynotsorry) I decided to try my hand at bread making. Specifically, sourdough bread making.
I bought this book because I was getting some mixed information from the internet about starting and caring for a sourdough starter. If you’re interested in sourdough bread making, I highly recommend this book. It’s really walked me through the entire process with tons of info, pictures, and FAQs.
Once I received the book and flipped through, there were about a million different loaves I wanted to make, so I’ll include lots of pictures on this post!
I wanted to make some sourdough bread for Thanksgiving with my family, so I selected the plain sourdough loaf and the cheddar jalapeno loaf (I come from a long line of jalapeno lovers). They were amazing. I’m not tooting my horn here, I’m just being honest. They were so tasty. Don’t get me wrong, they were a lot of work. I had to leave really early in the morning to get to my mom’s house in Alabama for Thanksgiving, so I started the dough the night before and let it rise, and then got up at 4AM the next morning to follow the next steps and to bake. I also made some herbed butter, but that is a post for another day…
After I got these loaves under my belt, I decided to make some bagels for Christmas Eve. I made half plain and half everything. They were also really tasty. My only mistake here was that I didn’t let them rise long enough, so the bagels were a little too skinny. Still tasted great though.
Then I had a girl’s night to bring an app for, so I chose to make a spinach artichoke stuffed sourdough loaf. It was ALSO GREAT! Again, I had some issues with rising. I think I overworked the dough a bit as it was a tad too dense for me. But it was great with the spinach artichoke dip and a big hit at girl’s night.
Next up, a fruit and seed loaf with apricots, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. This was amazing and I happily ate toast every morning for breakfast that week.
Then I came full circle, back to plain sourdough. Honestly, my husband was starting to feel left out of this whole bread making thing because he isn’t a big fan of the breads with things inside of them (I know, he can be wrong.)
I wanted to make a special loaf for my mother-in-law to repay her for helping us out A LOT lately with our doggies, so I picked an olive and Parmesan loaf for her. I didn’t get to sample it, but it smelled heavenly, and she claims it was yummy!
The most recent loaf that I tried was a white cheddar and dill loaf. It was extremely good. I am imagining delicious grilled cheeses with this tasty bread as I’m writing this. This loaf had some pretty hefty instructions, but it was worth it. I am a big fan, and will definitely repeat it in the future.
I’m obviously not going to include recipes for all of these breads in this post, but I will definitely provide you with some tips that I have figured out along the way in this sourdough bread journey, sourdough starter info, and a recipe for a plain sourdough loaf.
Tip #1: You can’t rush sourdough bread.
If you don’t have time for all the sitting and waiting and resting, then don’t bother. Trust me. I’ve tried to rush it a couple of times, and I’ve been disappointed with dense, mediocre bread. The times that I have let things rest and rise the way they are supposed to, the bread has been fantastic. I’m not known for my patience, so it’s been a bit of a learning process for me to get to the point where I understand why the timing is so important.
Tip #2: Temperature matters
If you’ve ever made bread before, you know that waiting for it to rise is hard. But it’s even harder when it’s cold. If you leave your bread to prove in a drafty or cold part of your house, you’ll notice that it will take a lot longer to rise. Keep your bread in a warm part of your house to rise, even if it’s not your kitchen. That being said, proving your bread in the fridge for a longer period of time is said to alter the depth of the flavor. My opinion on this is still out, because I’ve only tried it once.
Tip #3: Don’t neglect your sourdough starter
Even though it doesn’t take long to feed and care for, it’s a thing that I found myself saying “I’ll do it later” about a million times. So far, I’ve killed my starter twice and had to start over. I haven’t had luck with keeping it in the fridge. This tip is more of a warning, because I honestly haven’t mastered it yet. Pay attention to the starter, check for weird liquids, weird smells, and, uh, hypothetically… fruit flies. Not saying I know anything about that one…
Sourdough Starter Maintenance
To create your sourdough starter, start with a clean container or jar. I have been using a 1 pint mason jar.
Add 1/2 cup unbleached flour to the jar, followed by 1/4 cup water. Stir well to mix.
Cover the jar with plastic wrap or a loose fitting cloth. Keep at room temperature.
Feed the starter every 24 hours by removing 1/2 of the starter (discard or set aside for use if the starter is active, or share with a friend!) and then adding another 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mixing.
The starter can be stored at the fridge if you do not wish to keep it active/feed it daily. It can theoretically be fed about once a week if kept in the fridge. I haven’t successfully done this yet…