Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Bread Class: Sourdough Starter

If you're looking to make a sourdough starter, I like this recipe from King Arthur. It takes five days, and you can use whatever flour you have on hand. Rye is traditional; this one calls for whole wheat; I've used pretty much whatever was available and had good results. 

The trick to starter is that it is a fermentation. Your first loaves using the batch will likely not have that characteristic tangy smell and flavor, since the starter hasn't aged long enough. The good news is that it will still perk the bread along quite nicely. Don't give up; just keep using the starter to make more bread -- give it away to your neighbors and friends, and you'll be the hit on the block.  In a couple months of regular baking and feeding, and your loaves will have that sharp classic flavor.

My recipe makes two loaves, and now that I live alone I give one loaf away out of every batch. I always smile when people point out that I could freeze the second loaf, which is true, but has nothing to do with why I make bread. Some days I make a second batch the day after "Bread Day," meaning I give away both loaves since I'm still working on the one from the day before.  Generally, I make bread twice a week for my own consumption. Any baking other than that is for mental health.

Storing it: I store my bread in a brown paper bag, cut side down. It lasts about three days (if it's not eaten by then) before it gets overly hard and I cut it into strips to dry out completely for dog treats.