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.
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.