With the free time I’ve had since school ended, I’ve decided to give sourdough bread a second try. Let me try to give a brief explanation of the process: Before you can bake sourdough bread, you have to combine flour and water and let it ferment so you’ll have sourdough starter. This is what gives sourdough bread its distinctive taste.
I tried this once in the past, but it didn’t work that time. Thankfully, things have been going better this time around.
I followed the basic method described on this page with the following adaptations: I used all-purpose whole wheat flour and didn’t bother warming the water I used, as I think that in the past I made the water too hot and killed the yeast or something like that. Things that the above page doesn’t mention that I found elsewhere: Don’t use tap water, as it might contain chemicals that can mess up your starter; don’t use metal utensils to stir the starter, as this can also mess it up somehow. (I should add that I did stir with a metal spoon for a minute before I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to do that, and it didn’t seem to hurt anything. Maybe I’ll try making another batch with tap water and see if it still works.)
It was ridiculously easy – I just mixed equal amounts of flour and water in a clean glass jar, covered the jar with plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band, and put it in a warm place out of direct sunlight. (A more precise description of the process can be found at the page linked to above.) I was supposed to feed it the day after I started it, but I didn’t. It didn’t need me, though; after about a day and a half, it looked great with no feeding or interference of any kind.
So anyway, I have starter now, but I haven’t been able to make any bread yet. While attempting to make the “sponge,” I added more flour/water than was advised to make up for a lower volume of starter. I also tried to warm the water and may have hurt the process by making it too hot, which is why I’m not going to try heating water anymore. As a result of one or both of these things, my sponge showed almost no change even after almost a full day, when it was supposed to take only a few hours. To give it an additional boost, I made more starter and added some of it to the bowl of attempted sponge, and the sponge seems to be coming along now. It’s not ready yet, but the last time I checked, a layer of liquid had formed on top and there were a few bubbles – in other words, it looks about like my two batches of starter looked like the nights before they were fully ready, so maybe I’ll be able to bake bread tomorrow!
Anyway, if you like to cook you should definitely try this. If I get to try to bake sourdough bread, I’ll tell you how it goes. Now to figure out a way to get a jar of starter to Canada… haha.