I’ve always enjoyed baking bread, even when I was a young girl. I loved the taste of homemade bread so much that I taught myself how to bake it when I was just 13-years-old. Over the years, I’ve made countless loaves of traditional white bread, Focaccia bread, dinner rolls, pizza dough, and honey wheat bread. But this past winter I started tinkering around with sourdough baking. I’ve been intrigued by sourdough for so long now, reading lots of recipes and articles, and I’ve watched way too many clips on Youtube. I finally knuckled down and made my own starter from scratch. I used the King Arthur Flour, sourdough starter recipe and I followed it to the letter.
It worked perfectly! I did as they recommended and began my starter with rye flour (the wild yeasts and good bacteria like the heavier, more nutritious flours and that helps jump-start the starter) and by day three I had lots of gassy bubbles in my starter jar! I was so ridiculously happy about it I walked all over the house showing it to Justin and the kids. ”Look! Look! I’ve got bubbles!” After I got the starter going with the rye flour I switched and began to feed it whole wheat flour. Eventually, (after I knew I had a nice colony of wild yeasts going strong) I converted my starter to white flour.
I’ve kept it fed and happy ever since (it’s about three and a half months old now). Some weeks I leave it out on the counter and feed it daily, but on busy weeks I stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it.
One of my favorite sourdough recipes so far has been King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Sourdough Buns. I love this recipe! They are so soft and tender with butter swirled in the middle and then brushed on top right before serving. They have a more subtle sourdough flavor than a traditional sourdough loaf. The brilliant thing about these roll is you can add what ever you want to the middle; think of it as a type of savory cinnamon roll. I’ve added garlic infused butter with grated Parmesan cheese to the centers. One of the people who commented on the original recipe, said they had added caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese to their buns. Doesn’t that sounds insanely good!?
I’ve made this recipe a half dozen times now and I’ve tweaked it just a little. I increased the yeast to 4 teaspoons, and instead of spreading melted butter inside the swirls I used very soft butter. Using the softened butter instead of melted butter, made it easier to roll the dough into a spiral shape. I also made the mistake of rolling my spiral too tight the first time and the rolls didn’t rise properly. They baked up so dense. As frustrating as it was to loose an entire batch of rolls, is was an easy mistake to remedy.
The one element of baking with sourdough that I had to adjust to, was measuring my flour by weight instead of volume. Most of the time when I bake I use measuring cups for my dry ingredients, but I’ve found that most sourdough recipes need more precise measurements. Getting the dough properly hydrated is important and I ruined a batch because I added too much flour. I stole Justin’s small digital food scale and I use it to measure out my flour in ounces. I haven’t had any trouble since I started weighing the flour.
I have yet to tackle any artisanal bread like baguettes or boules; I’ve stuck with simpler recipes like dinner rolls, sandwich loaf bread, and these amazingly good waffles! I found the recipe hereNext on my list of sourdough recipes to try is this Roasted Garlic Rustic Sourdough Boule. I think I’m up for the challenge
If you’re interested in experimenting with your own sourdough starter I really do recommend King Arthur Flour’s sourdough starter recipe, as well as their article about maintaining and using your starter. And if you’d like to be completely inspired by an amazing baker you should check out Alchemy Bread Co’s Instagram feed. Bonnie’s bread is gorgeous! She carves beautiful designs in the top of her sourdough boules, and she shapes the most interesting baguettes I’ve ever seen. Oh, and if you have any sourdough recipes you love or any tips I’d love to hear them!
Happy Baking! April