My first sourdough loaf

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I have wanted to try making sourdough bread for a long time, and last week I’ve finally taken the plunge. I used simple instructions for sourdough starter that called for nothing but flour and water, and was a little skeptical at first, leaping with joy when I saw the first foamy bubbles – hurray! It’s working! I’ve captured myself some real wild yeast.

By day five, my starter acquired a prominent yeasty smell and I decided it’s time to dive into baking. I used whole rye flour, opting for sticky dough that is stirred rather than kneaded. After proofing the bread for about 8 hours in a warm kitchen, I eased it into English cake tins and let it stand a couple hours more before popping it into the oven.

Unfortunately, I left rather too much room for rising, forgetting that rye bread, especially sourdough bread, does not rise that much. As a result I got flat and, let’s face it, sorry-looking loaves, but the taste was very satisfying – full, complex, a little sour, with a very pleasant chewy texture. It was delicious warm, covered with melting butter, and was definitely worth the effort and waiting.

I saved a bit of the dough for next time’s starter and froze it, because bread-making happens somewhat sporadically around here. I hope next time I get a loaf that is good-looking as well as great-tasting.

A friend of mine, who makes delicious sourdough bread in the way of a little kitchen business, tells me that her secret to great-tasting bread is in the flour: she buys whole rye and spelt in bulk, soaks and sprouts the grains, then oven-dries the grains and only then grounds them into flour which she uses for bread-making. For practical reasons (my oven is tiny) I can’t do the same, but I still think I did pretty well for a first-timer. I’m excited about this venture into the world of traditional slow-rising breads.

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7 thoughts on “My first sourdough loaf

  1. You can make a sourdough starter from potato water and it’ll provide you with a better tasting sourdough that’s much more active than what you described here. I found my recipe in an old American Pioneer book but there are probably many recipes for it online. It’s a cheap and easy recipe.

    Also, King Arthur Flour sourdough recipes have never failed me – I use hard white wheat for them because that’s what’s available where I live in Wyoming, USA.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, yes! Leaden Breaden; I’ve made that myself a time or two. The first time I made a recipe that was to rise in the refrigerator overnight I squashed the dough down into the round pan, thinking it would rise more than it did. It was a sort of pumpernickel pancake!

    An yes, potato water makes excellent starter. (If I’m not sure about the strength of my starter, I add about a half teaspoon of dry yeast to the dough. Too much “oomph” is not nearly as bad as too little. You can always punch the dough back down, but you can’t make it rise.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations! 🙂

    I’d recommend making the dough firmer and kneading it as long as it begins to ‘talk’ to you (making a specific ‘snap’ sound), as it is the traditional Finnish way my mother taught me and I’ve been using.

    Also, it helps if you grind your own flour. Really fresh flour has more rising power than let’s say a week old flour.

    Liked by 1 person

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