One thing I wish everyone would learn is that if someone else can do something, you can do it too. If Elaine from Foodbod Sourdough can make perfect sourdough, so can I and if I can do it, so can you. It truly all depends on how much effort you’re willing to put into it, how many times you are willing to fail and start over. I can promise you if you go back on here and find sourdough I was making a few years back, it doesn’t look (or taste) nearly as good as it does now.
My best advice is to find a recipe others use and have had success. I start almost every batch with Elaine from Foodbod’s Master Recipe. It never fails me. The recipe calls for 350 grams of water and 500 grams of flour, along with starter and salt. That’s truly all it takes. She also has a list of equipment. You’ve seen what I use – an ancient scuffed up blue plastic bowl that I love and I dread the day I have to get rid of it but I know that bowl is about at the end of it’s life. I bake the loaves in a 3.5 quart Dutch Oven that I got from Walmart probably 15 years ago. Back then it was inexpensive compared to name brands. I think I paid $29 for it because I also bought a larger blue one at the same time and paid $35 for the larger one and I remember Vince grumbling because he thought I already had too many pots. I did but the red one is the perfect vessel for baking this bread. I do not use the banneton, though I have one. I do not use filtered water. I use tap water that comes from the city.
I you feel like you’re wasting ingredients by practicing making bread, cut the recipe in half. Use 175 grams of water and 250 grams of flour along with half of the starter and salt. Make a giant roll. Practice. Use the bread for bread pudding, croutons, bread crumbs.
Not everyone has to make bread or dream about making bread all day and all night. That’s ok. But, if you want to make great bread, it isn’t hard. Getting into your clothes after perfecting your bread . . that’s difficult.
Speaking of effort, making a loaf of sourdough bread is probably the easiest bread you will ever make!
Here’s the spelt/all purpose/Prairie Gold/Rosemary loaf.
I’m fixing to roll out and cut some pasta, then finish dinner. I’ll cut the bread for dinner and will report back on the flavor/texture.
Judy is sourdough bread always crunchy? I am not a big fan of hard crunchy bread. I have wanted to try it–even went to getting starter and trying to get it going–but it have not found out what discard is vs using it the starter for the bread. I have read more than a few sites trying to understand it. Discarding sounds like a total waste of ingredients–I am not worried about if I mess up–I just don’t like throwing out perfectly good stuff–or what I think is good stuff. I activated it–and then tells you to feed it daily, and then do this for so many days–my quart jar was too small for what they were wanting it to do. I guess I just don’t comprehend what I am supposed to do. Maybe I am more of a visual learner–needing someone to hold my hand as it’s done. I am a pretty good cook and such–no one has died of starvation here. 😀
The outside is crunchy but if you store it in a plastic bag, the crunch disappears.
I’ll see if I can explain discard. Everyone struggles with that in the beginning.
Say you’re feeding your starter and you have 40 grams of starter. If you’re going to make bread soon, you may start with 25 grams of starter (which means you have 15 grams of starter left over (discard). Just leave that in a jar with a lid and stick it in the fridge. You’re going to add 25 grams of water and 25 grams of flour to the 25 grams of starter you poured from the 40 grams. In theory, you now have 75 grams of starter. When you get ready to make bread, you’ll probably use 50 grams of starter so you’ll have about 25 grams of starter left over. You’ll use that to keep the starter going – 25 grams of flour and 25 grams of water added. Say you feed it and a week later, you haven’t made bread and you want to make bread. Take the starter out – should be about 75 grams. Pour off 25 grams to use to feed (add 25 grams each of flour and water). You have 50 grams leftover. Add that to the discard jar.
There are excellent recipes using discard – crackers, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, etc.
But, if you aren’t making bread a lot, just keep a small starter and beef it up before you get ready to make bread. Say you’re only using 10 grams of starter, feed it with 10 grams each of water and flour. Then you want to make bread. The next time you use it, pour off 25 or 30 grams of start, add that same amount of flour and water and now you’ll have enough to make bread.
As far as waste, yes, sometimes I do throw some out but 10 of 15 or 20 grams of flour/water tossed isn’t going to bother me much. You can keep the starter small if you aren’t using much.
I felt the same way you feel and even a couple of years ago when I started using Elaine’s recipe, it was so confusing.
I will do a blog post this week with step by step directions/times of how I do it and see if that helps.
Thanks Judy. I guess my thing is if you are putting the “discard” into another jar and putting it back in the refrigerator, After you get enough for another loaf–why wouldn’t you use that? So there wouldn’t be waste. I have seen loads of recipes for discard-but isn’t it just the same as what you were using in the bread? Flour, water, and starter that you started with. That is what I am not comprehending. And why wouldn’t you “feed it” before discarding, so then you would have to take out what you need for your recipe, you would have more left in the jar–so you could use it for another recipe. Yes please do a step by step–maybe then I will comprehend. Sorry to be a bother.
The “starter” needs to be fed fairly consistently. It’s good to feed it at least once a week though I’ve gone two or three months without feeding it. On the times I’ve left my starter in the fridge for more than a couple of weeks, I’ll feed it several times before using it for bread. It needs to be really active to work well with bread and starter that hasn’t been feed consistently is likely to be sluggish. You can do it any way you want.
Say you have 40 grams in your jar. I would take out 25 grams to feed. You can feed the entire 40 grams but then you’re using 40 grams of flour and 40 grams of water. Your recipe is going to need 50 grams so you’ll have about 120 grams of starter, take away 50 for the bread and then what are you going to do with 70 grams of starter? You’ll still need to feed it before using it again, even if you’re using it in just a day or two.
Certainly if you’re going to use it all, feed it all. I have a couple of recipes that need 100 grams of starter.
Really, you can do it any way you want and if you start doing it one way and decide that isn’t working, go a different route.
Kay Sorensen says
It’s all a matter of priorities as to what we currently chose to do and chose not to do.
Exactly. That is why I started the post with this statement: “One thing I wish everyone would learn is that if someone else can do something, you can do it too.” It doesn’t matter what you truly want to do . . it can be done if you put your effort into it.
Not everyone wants to make bread. Not everyone wants to eat bread. But I get a ton of questions about how to make good sourdough bread so what I was saying is that IF someone wants to make amazing bread, they can do it with a little practice.
That is one gorgeous looking bread!
embarrassed here that i have a jar of discard in the back of my fridge with a nice layer of hooch for probably 10 months. i had several bad loaves and kinda gave up, but also learned if i wanted more sour flavor to leave it alone for awhile. probably my downfall and everything I read says it’s still good, but i’m reluctant to go ahead with it because of the way it looks.
My suggestion (but never trust me) – Take it out of the fridge, depending on how much hooch is in there, you may want to pour off a little. Weigh out about 25 grams and feed it. See what happens. If it’s still alive, it’s good. If it’s dead, nothing will happen. Having been in the fridge there shouldn’t be any bad stuff growing but if you see any abnormal colors of any sign of anything fuzzy, dump it all. I think it’s fine.
i think i just might. i read and bookmarked the link yesterday and love sourdough bread. was so proud when i made my own starter, but 4 loaves not even edible was not encouraging.
Cindy F says
Ever since you included the link to Foodbod Sourdough I have had success. I use her method exclusively and it never fails. Thank you thank you for sharing with us! When I visited my sister I took her some starter and now she bakes it too using the same method. I love trying new recipes and her pumpkin seed encrusted bread (in her first book) was wonderful! I’ll have to look for the rosemary recipe.
I haven’t tried the pumpkin seed encrusted but I have pumpkin seeds so I’ll look. For the rosemary bread, I just added chopped fresh rosemary – maybe 1/4 cup. I also used 88 grams (I think) of spelt, ran out of AP so I used about 110 g. (I think) of Prairie Gold. Just follow the Master Recipe and add chopped rosemary and you’ll be good.
Cindy F says
Thanks for the tips!
Any time. Hope it helps.