I’ve finally made some pretty good sourdough bread. Pretty good because I’m a bread snob, sourdough is my favorite thing. While I can’t say this is the best sourdough I’ve ever had, I can say this is the best I’ve ever made.
And I’ve been trying for years, killed at least 3 starters, bought 4 books, and took a class focusing solely on sourdough starter. I think it was the class that “fixed” most of my problems. Sourdough is a 20ish step process, the starter being step one, and that’s probably where I was messing up.
So what’s the magic mixture of info and techniques that finally worked for me?
I took the starter class at Sour Flour Bakery. Thanks to the class I now know how to keep my starter alive and happy.
Josey Baker bread book. He builds up to the final hearth loaf sourdough recipe. Introducing only a few steps at a time so you can get steps 1 through 5 before moving onto 20.
And finally I went back to the Tartine Bread cookbook to use it’s ingredient ratios and a few of their techniques.
This has gotten me most of the way to great bread. I’m happy for now. Happy to keep making bread.
And how can I take it from pretty good to amazing?
These are guesses, not sure if it will do any good.
One, the flour I’m using. Every once in awhile I go to a bulk food hippy place that gets locally milled flour. The texture and flavor do come out better when using the fresher, local flour vs a good shelf brand.
Second, temperature consistency. My house has no insulation in the walls, thanks California. Maybe temperature tracking would help with rise and texture.
Third, retarding the bread process vs all in one day. I think all in one day is better. Usually I bake during the week and need to refrigerate the dough at some point in the process either for the bulk rise or after the shaping. But when I’ve been able to bake bread on the weekend without retarding the rise, the flavors have been stronger! I’d always thought sourdough was supposed to be more sour if you retard the rise. But I’m not seeing it. Or maybe the flavor I like from the local bakers here don’t retard overnight.