I will be the first to admit that I am not a baker. I don’t like to measure things precisely, or at all. I don’t like to wait to see if it’s a pass or fail – which baking is. I like to cook, and I can cook almost anything. I like to be able to taste as I go and adjust as needed – which baking does not allow. That said, I recently dove headfirst into the highly addictive realm of sourdough baking, and I love it! In fact, someone recently referred to me as an artisan baker, and I almost believed it.

My sourdough journey began with a serious case of FOMO after my best friend kept sending me pictures of loaf after loaf of fresh, crusty, golden, sourdough. I thought she must’ve lost her mind, spending hours in the kitchen making bread – who has time for that? But then she started sending me links (I actually read them) and I decided to give it a whirl. After all, aside from the multiple steps of folding and proofing the dough, most recipes only required 10-15 minutes of work over a span of around 16 hours.

And so it began, I put flour and water into a jar and waited. For 10 days, I would take out a little bit every day and replace it with more flour and water. Remarkably, after those 10 days, and more patience than I ever thought I could muster, I had created a starter! A living, breathing, bubbly, first-place-science-fair-worthy concoction of flour, water, and natural bacteria from the air around us that would allow me to make nearly any baked good I could imagine. I created this starter that is a living thing, it has to be cared for, fed, and affectionately named – I named mine Uhtred (if you haven’t watched The Last Kingdom, you should).

Since then, I’ve literally made everything and anything I can imagine. Artisan boules (fancy name for a bread round), cinnamon raisin boules, bagels, English muffins, donuts, naan bread, pizza dough, and the best cheddar crackers and banana bread I’ve ever put in my mouth! I’ve gone through 30+ POUNDS of flour in one month. I’ve fed my neighbors and friends and have even bartered with sourdough. The recipes are simple, usually beginning with just starter, flour, water, and salt, and they even lend themselves for some artistic interpretation, which I love. You get a feel for the sourdough. It becomes instinctual to know what the dough needs and when it’s ready, like a sixth sense.

The best part is knowing that I can feed my son, and he can see and help me create some of the best-baked goods I’ve ever tasted. I know exactly what’s going into them. There are no preservatives, stabilizers, or artificial anything. All of this deliciousness costs pennies to make. And most impressive of all, because the sourdough starter is a naturally fermented food, it has probiotics that can aid in digestion, gut health, and overall health. As a matter of fact, some science indicates that sourdough is healthier and more easily digestible than any other bread. This idea blew my mind since I’d been spending $5-$7 a loaf for commercial organic whole wheat bread that my body has a really hard time digesting. With sourdough, I don’t get that bloated, uncomfortably full feeling, which has allowed me to reintroduce bread into my life in a way I had been missing.

Homemade Sourdough Cheddar Crackers

I have now shared recipes, links, and given part of my starter to several friends and neighbors who have developed sourdough addictions of their own. I’m like a dealer, getting people hooked. But this addiction brings joy and smiles, fills your house with the smell of fresh bread, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment in creating something both beautiful and delicious. I find myself in awe that I’m creating things I never knew I could, I feel liberated in a sense, and proud of what I’m capable of making. So, if you’re curious about the current sourdough craze or needing an outlet while we’re all still stuck at home, I implore you to mix some flour and water, create your own starter, and see where it takes you.

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Katee Schalau
Katee moved to Florida at three years old and was raised in Ponte Vedra Beach. She graduated from Nease High School and went on to the University of North Florida, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. After graduating from UNF, she moved to the Midwest but longed to return to the sunshine state. In 2019, Katee returned to Florida with her son and settled in St. Augustine. She works from home fulltime in marketing for an electronics manufacturer based out of California. When she’s not at home working or writing, Katee and her son are usually out and about, exploring and enjoying fresh air and sunshine. She is excited to be a part of the St. Augustine Moms team, combining three of her favorite things: being a mom, writing and St. Augustine.

1 COMMENT

  1. I loved this article and I can definitely relate! I’ve made sourdough for about two years and have learned a ton! Just this week, I made sourdough cinnamon rolls for the first time and instantly knew that was going to be my go-to recipe for neighbor Christmas gifts this year. Last month I made sourdough pretzels and loved the salty sour combo. And I’ve made bread after bread, trying for that incredibly delicate balance of rise, knead, and bake perfection. For my starter, I could not get mine going for the longest time, until I experimented with wheat bread flour and felt like I hit the jackpot. I finally saw my starter working quickly and consistently. And it was amazing, seeing that little tub of wild yeast and knowing it’s long history involved in everything from bread to cakes to muffins. After all, it was the only natural rising agent used way before baking soda, active dry yeast, or even yeast cakes. All this to say, welcome to the sourdough club! I’m so glad to hear there’s more sourdough bakers in the area.

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