Homegrown Sourdough Bread

After I read Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I developed a minor obsession with fermentation. I had attempted to make sourdough bread when I lived in Idaho but it just didn’t ever really go well. I tried to make it with water straight out of the tap but I have since learned that the chlorine (or chloramine) in city water might interfere with yeast growth (which totally makes sense!).

I started with a 50:50 flour water mixture (1/2 c. each) using water I brought home from the water cooler at school. In retrospect the jar was too small but it seemed like such a neat little package to start with!

Sourdough starter

The second day I added another 1/2 c. water and a 1/2 c. flour. The next day, I fed the starter again in the late afternoon. I was starting to be skeptical about whether anything was going to work, yet again. I went into the kitchen in the evening to make tea and there were bubbles! It was alive!

Sourdough starter

By the next morning, the starter had exploded on the counter. There was plenty enough still in the jar to salvage so I moved it to a larger bowl and measured some out to make bread! I used this recipe and the result was unmitigated failure. It didn’t rise. There was a hunk of solid dough just sitting there. I didn’t use non-chlorinated water, which might have been the issue, I’m not sure.

I did some more research and found this post on Pinch My Salt that described how to make a “sponge” and THEN mixing up the dough. Finally I was on to something.

My first “sponge”:

Making a sponge

The loaves themselves seemed a little flat. But they were clearly bread!

Sourdough starter

I slightly overbaked them but they were pretty delicious for the first few hours!

Second bread attempt

I tried again, making the bread into one loaf. It didn’t brown very well but oh my god it is so freaking good!

Sourdough bread

I’ve never been a sourdough fan but this has really great flavor. I can see myself going back to a commercial yeasted bread in the future but I’m having fun experimenting right now!

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