Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I had so many botched loaves of bread that I started using the failures for bread cubes in stuffing. My dear husband, who loves turkey and stuffing, now says that sourdough bread makes the best stuffing - and I think he is serious!
But I'm known for being stubborn, and I was determined to learn from my mistakes and ultimately succeed in sourdough baking. For over a year, I've baked regularly with sourdough. I've probably tried dozens of recipes by now. Most were barely tolerable, whether from a poor recipe or my inexperience. But a few recipes have stood out as excellent. Over the months, I've continued to adjust and perfect our favorites.
I've hesitated to share my sourdough directions and recipes because I am still learning. But I continue to receive questions about sourdough baking. So in the next few weeks, I plan to share how to utilize sourdough in baking.
Let's face it. Sourdough can be intimidating. It isn't like baking cookies. You are purposely growing yeast and bacteria in your kitchen!
But if the Gold Rushers could keep alive a pot of sourdough in some rustic shack in the California gold fields, surely it can't be that complicated.
In my reading about sourdough, there is a variety of methods and recipes. While the basics were the same, the lack of standard direction drove me crazy. I'd read one thing somewhere but another place would insist on just the opposite. I just wanted someone to tell me the one right way to do it!
Sourdough has been described as more art then science. The sheer magnitude of cookbooks in print should let me know there will never be a "one final recipe" in cooking anything. I learned much from reading cookbooks and websites. By now I can't remember what I learned from where but I do want to give credit to Peter Reinhart, Northwest Sourdough, and Sourdough Home. Some of these writers have posted dozens of recipes, detailed tutorials, and even videos that are extremely helpful.
Eventually, I came up with my own way of using sourdough that was probably a cross of all the sourdough information I've ever read. I'm going to share what I do, what has worked for me in an (hopefully) easy to understand step-by-step format but you may take these directions and adjust them as you wish. I won't say that I have the final word, or even that I'll be doing this the same way next year.
Because my goal was 100% wild yeast 100% whole wheat bread, the recipes I share will reflect those goals.I will share some recipes that use white and wheat flour. And of course, you can always substitute white flour for the whole wheat flour.
I'm especially thankful to several Home Joys readers and some sister-in-laws who have tested these recipes for the last couple months. They have found mistakes and helped make these recipes better.
If you bake with sourdough, I hope you will share your own techniques and recipes so that we can learn together.