A simple guide to a healthy loaf of sourdough bread without the guesswork
I’m not a baker by trade. I’m a retired teacher with plenty of time to work through the sourdough process. I’ve done so enough times that I can consistently produce a beautiful loaf of artisan, sourdough bread. I use heritage whole wheat flour. I’ll walk you through the process of starting your starter and mixing your first batch of dough. I’ll take the guess work out of the proofing process and show you how to bake your first loaf. Along the way I’ll explain to you everything I use and why, along with links to find the things you need at a reasonable price.
Let’s start with the starter:
I bought a pack of San Francisco Sourdough Style Starter Culture through Amazon. Once you have your starter, you will nurture it with flour and water for several weeks before it’s strong enough to make bread. Whatever starter you buy, just follow the directions to get it going. For two weeks I fed my starter twice a day, morning and night, one cup of flour, one cup of water, discarding the extra when the container was full. Leave the starter on a kitchen counter at room temperature. A one-quart mason jar works fine for a container. I use distilled water, warmed slightly in the microwave. Tap water might be OK, or it might be slightly chlorinated which can alter the fermentation process. A gallon of distilled water costs about a buck nineteen, a reasonable price to guarantee pure, unadulterated water.
While your starter matures over the two-week period, leave the lid open so air can get in, but cover it with something like a strainer or a piece of screen or cheese cloth to keep flies and foreign matter (junk, kid’s toys) from falling in. I named my starter Little Suzy, to bug my wife Suzy. Every time I’m ready to bake, I announce that it’s time to wake up little Suzy and I start singing that old song. If you are old enough, you will actually know what that means.
Your starter is active when you see lots of bubbles form each time you feed it. Awhile after feeding, following the bubbles, the starter will appear a little foamy…