4 Things I've Learned from being a Sourdough Starter
(no knead sourdough using this recipe)
You guys are so sweet. I've shared on Instagram that I've been making sourdough and was asked if I could do a post about what I've learned. Some of you may remember that in March I was right there with everyone else who wanted to bake bread. Back then, I failed when it came to sourdough.
My bread didn't come out great, my sourdough maybe never started, and overall I just let others take on the task of making beautiful boule's!
I've mentioned before that I don't claim to be a baker but when my friend offered to give me some of her starter and with the weather turning cooler it seemed like the perfect time to try again! So, what have I learned? Well, here you go!
(Favorite recipe to date from here. Only thing I'll do next time is not bake it in the middle not the bottom of the oven.)
Try lots of different recipes!
In the last week or so I've made this sourdough boule which is great for an anxious baker, these sourdough popovers which were a hit, pumpkin bread with sourdough, cinnamon bread with sourdough, this sourdough boule and then these loaves too. One more. I made this no-knead bread too.
The popovers were an excellent way to use up some starter, the pumpkin bread is very yummy, and this sourdough boule is so far my favorite method and yielded the best results.
The cinnamon bread and tangy loaves were a flop, but most things taste fine toasted and with butter so all was not lost! As far as the loaves go baking in a dutch oven is the way to go and will yield the beautiful crust your sourdough dreams are made of!
2. The Rule of 3's
I'm not really sure if it's a rule but here's what I know now. If my sourdough is in the fridge I'll take it out in the morning, feed it then, feed it again at night, feed it again the next morning and plan to make the bread within 4-6 hours of the third feed.
I'm no expert but this has been the resounding insight you all have provided! One time I waited later in the day to start the bread and it was apparently too far from when I had fed the starter in the morning so it wasn't as ripe and the recipe didn't turn out well.
Now I know better and so do you!
3. King Arthur is your friend.
In times like these go to the experts! I love other bloggers, but baking bread and referencing King Arthur is a bit like Cooking and referencing Cooks Illustrated or Ina Garten as superior. Lay people like me can be fun and insightful (wink) but I've really appreciated all the King Arthur site has to offer!
One tip from them -when you go to their sourdough section you'll see they mention unfed starter and ripe starter. Making the pumpkin bread was a good way to use some starter that didn't have to be ripe!
4. You'll gain wisdom along the way!
My goal has always been to have a really sour sourdough and one with lots of nice holes in it. Folding the sourdough during the rising process has helped with this.
Some recipes have the bread rise overnight in the fridge. This no-knead sourdough allowed me to bring bread to a friend's at lunch time!
Adding whole wheat, or other flours, can help the starter be more tangy. Today I'm going to use whole wheat flour to feed my starter!
I haven't mastered how to store it perfectly and I can tell you without a doubt that fruit flies LOVE sourdough starter.
I will say this is a fun challenge and great for days you're home. Research recipes before you make them so you're sure of the timing and take another stab at this task like I have. You may swear as I just did, "I'm never paying $5 for a loaf of good bread again."
You can do it friends. I believe in you! Happy baking!