Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bread Progress

You may have noticed on my monthly goals that I've been working on getting a sourdough starter going and wanting to make bread.

I've done a starter before and tried bread before with basically zero success. I mean, the starter was healthy but we didn't like how it tasted, my bread was not tasty or pretty and after trying pancakes, biscuits, waffles and english muffins - I think we liked maybe two of those things. Just wasn't working for me - so I let that starter die.

But. The desire to figure it out hasn't gone away and just kept hanging around. Putting it on my goals did really help give me some sort of deadline even if it was only self-imposed. It gave me some motivation to take steps to get going and make some sort of progress.

Meanwhile, a fellow CC mama told me about this Oregon Trail sourdough that you could order for merely the cost of a self-addressed stamped envelope. It seemed worth a try for such a low investment.

Anxiety kind of came in with the starter. I mean, there are so many differing opinions on how to care for a starter, when to feed it, how much to feed it, etc. All of that was sort of overwhelming but I hobbled along with that.

Also - I adopted a bread mentor which just means that I have a friend who makes gorgeous looking sourdough and I sent her a bunch of questions which she patiently answered and helped me through.

Starters need to be at least two weeks old to bake from and finally hitting that mark last week - I took all of the collected tips, advice and recipe and made this beautiful loaf of bread. Needless to say, I was giddy, proud, happy, excited. All of it. What a good feeling.

Better still, it tastes beautiful and my whole family loves it. I wondered if I could do it a second time? {yes, in case you're wondering!} And now I can't wait to try it for toast, grilled cheese, croutons and everything else.

I'm not feeling practiced enough yet to really share a bunch of details and really they aren't mine to share since I learned all of this from a sweet Insta-friend.

A few key things I was doing wrong though were helpful to trouble shoot.

First of all, I realized that not all sourdough starters are created equal. The one I had a couple of years ago was just very different than this one. It was fed instant potato flakes and we didn't like the flavor or taste of it. This one is simply a tiny bit of the starter I received in the mail plus water and flour. That's it.

Next, I was adding way too much flour. The dough is very sticky and to make that more manageable I was adding flour which was changing the texture and content of the dough. Lesson learned. Huge tip I also gained from my bread-mentor is to use wet hands, wet counter, wet tools to prevent sticking. It works like a charm!

I was also shaping my dough too soon and then it wasn't retaining its shape. Literally, this is shaped, scooped onto parchment and put in a hot cast iron dutch oven all in a minute or two and then baked. It has held its shape SO much better because of this.

This has been a very life-giving experience for me. Considering it is something I've wanted to do for a long time and it has not been easy in coming - it has given me renewed energy for learning something new, sticking with it and persevering. I'm not sure how to describe what bread baking is to me but it is wholesome, simple, pure, lovely, creative and nourishing. It is food for the soul and body.

Are you interested in learning more about making sourdough? Have you tried it before? Hopefully we can revisit this soon when I've gotten a little more practice and permission to share all the help generously offered to me.


Anonymous said...

I love this and would enjoy knowing more! I might give it a try!

Tina Leigh said...

There IS something very special and fulfilling in making bread, I totally agree. This loaf looks so good that I can almost smell it and taste it! I had to quit making sourdough bread, as we eat it as quick as it’s made. I make biscuit and plain bread on occasion. Nothing says home and cozy and love and pride and homemaking like homemade bread!

Tina said...

That is a gorgeous sourdough loaf! I've always wanted to know how to bake my own sourdough too since my family loves it. Any tips you can pass along in the future would be so appreciated! Have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

Great job, Monica! I use to love making fresh bread and getting creative with it. It was very therapeutic for me and everyone around me devoured it. But then I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Booo! Here are some book titles you might enjoy: The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, The New Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and an older book entitled, Beth's Basic Bread Book.

Andrea L.

Mrs. Chrissy T said...

Congrats on your success. I tried one a year ago. It did not work out. I may try again. Thanks for inspiration.

aspiritofsimplicity said...

oh my goodness does that look good. I can almost feel myself chewing on it.

Mom said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad that you have been successful in baking a beautiful and delicious bread that the whole family enjoys! :)