Are you a bread baker?
Do you aspire to be a bread baker?
Two years ago, my culinary resolution was just that.
I started out with yeast breads, mastering buttery brioche and various sweet doughs. I was really into it. Whoever walked through my door was greeted and welcomed with the aroma of warm, homemade bread. At one point, I boasted my baking skills to my grandfather thinking he’d be proud of my new found self sufficiency. He was from the recession.
But you know what he said?
“Emilie! Don’t you have something better to do with your time?”
Ha! He was right.
I was ready for something new.
Here’s the deal with sourdough: it tastes absolutely delicious.
Its chewy interior, crispy crust and tangy flavor is highly sought after.
But baking sourdough can be tricky.
Sourdough does not contain fast-acting, commercial yeast. This means it takes considerably longer to rise and can be somewhat unpredictable. There’s a myriad of factors that can hinder your success as well- shaping, spreading, baking, collapsing- I experienced them all.
Long story short…
To be honest, I was shocked. I followed the recipe(s) to a tee:
“Begin with an active starter, do a long overnight rise, and bake in the morning. Et voila! Homemade sourdough.”
So, where did I go wrong?
Was it my starter? My oven? Did I need one of those professional steam injectors?
Check it out:
This was my first loaf.
It looks like an underwater sea vessel.
I was so proud.
But I couldn’t stop comparing it to more designer loaves.
I continued to bake everyday until I got it ‘right.’
And what I learned is that sourdough takes motivation and commitment.
It’s like being a first time parent.
You can read tons of guide books, listen to all the advice in the world- but at the end of the day everyone’s situation is different. You need to practice. And improvise. Following technique is only half the battle.
Once I fully embraced this understanding…
I baked a good loaf!
And another one.
And then a better one.
So I wrote a guide.
Because I wished there was a hotline I could call when I was knee deep in flour cursing the baking gods!
Sourdough Bread: a beginner’s guide marks my journey of bread baking through my own personal experience. It serves as a tutorial for beginners and seasoned bakers alike. I also wanted to create a community where like-minded bakers (and hopefuls) could chat about a common theme.
Take a look at the comments section- there are many of you with the same questions… issues.. ‘aha ‘moments.
People want to learn.
That was my inspiration.
In 2015, I’ve made some updates to to my original guide based on your questions and feedback.
I’ve included answers to the following:
- How do I know when my starter is ready? When do I do the float test?
- Help! Why is my dough spreading out like a pancake?
- How do I get a good rise?
I’ve also re-structured the guide with bold headers for easy reference.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
People always ask, why bother?
And what I hope to convey is that bread baking is not only about the end result, it’s about the process. Making something from nothing. Touching, turning, kneading- that crackling sound when it comes out of the oven. I crave it.
Never in a million years would I think of sourdough as therapeutic.
But it is.
It sparked something.