I’ve always said I’m not much of a baker, even though I’ve baked wedding and birthday cakes for a living and pie-making is nothing but joy, so deciding to learn how to bake sourdough from the internet is either a stretch or makes perfect sense.
I tried making sourdough starter from scratch in the ’90s and a few times in the last decade. My poor, floury babies died almost instant deaths, more likely from smothering than neglect, but in all honesty, probably because sourdough mothers require a little bit more attention than any other starter culture in my refrigerator arsenal.
This time, I got a seed-starting heat mat for my cold, cold house and followed directions from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn, and lo and behold, paying attention to the people who know what they are talking about helps a ton. Mavis, the name my friend Carole gave to my main-squeeze mother culture, grew to be beautiful and bubbly in just five days—that’s two fewer than Frank N. Furter required to make a whole man, and with zero weightlifting!
With Mavis in hand, I was ready to bake, but not before leaping over just one more tiny hurdle: I was running out of flour and competing with the rest of the nation to buy more amid coronavirus “preparation.” I got five pounds of whole wheat flour by Sprouts delivery, mixed some with the rest of a box of cake flour I found in my kitchen, and made my first weird loaf.
It tasted amazing, and now, my friends, I am hooked—at least until I get a crumb worthy of one of those cut-in-half, but holding-with-one-hand, photos that real bakers post on their real blogs.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s going to take some practice. Sourdough is different from the yeasted variety, and though I love not having to knead (remember, zero weightlifting required), folding the really sticky, wet dough doesn’t come naturally to me.
Good thing is, I get to eat all of the delicious results, even those containing subpar holes.