Can You Really Make Sourdough Bread at Home?

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Can you really make sourdough bread at home? Is it as easy as they say? Like many people in 2020, I got into bread making. During lockdown the supermarket had a limit on bread that didn’t suit a family of five. I also realised that the bread had way more ingredients than necessary, and a low percentage of wholegrain, despite choosing the wholegrain option.

2021 was when I began to experiment with sourdough, and it was by accident!

I began with Mary’s Busy Mother’s Secret Sour dough shortcut. It didn’t go well for me. The loaves never rose. I wasted three fully cooked leaves realizing this.

In this post I share my experience and all of the links you need to get started if you want to try your own sourdough at home.

My adventures in sourdough baking
Melissa's first loaf of sourdough (with a little yeast)
My first loaf from the Mother’s Secret – with yeast

So, I transitioned this to a starter. I threw out all but half a cup, left it on the bench and fed it every 24 hours according to Gemma from Bigger Bolder Baking’s instructions.

After another week, I tried the float test. A spoonful of my start floated in water! So I began the process of my first loaf.

Melissa's sourdough starter
A healthy sourdough starter (not quite robust enough for wholegrain bread yet)

I chose Gemma’s wholewheat sourdough. Proofed it for 18 hours, folded, rose for 2.5 more hours, cooked for an hour and then (im)patiently let it cool before cutting and trying.

Sourdough baked by Melissa
A dense, but close wholewheat sourdough

It was good.

But I felt that perhaps my starter was too young for a robust wholewheat bread so I prepared a white sourdough to proof for the next day. It was so good.

A white sourdough bread
My white sourdough perfection

Why did I start baking bread?

At first, during lockdown we kept running out of bread (there was a limit of two per customer and we had a family of five we needed more!). Then I couldn’t believe the amount of ingredients on the packet of bread we usually buy.

I have always cooked with wholemeal flour and my bread was no different.

Then I started learning that sourdough was even healthier than wholemeal by virtue of the fermentation process. I also learnt that it is gentler on the gut, so much so, that some people with gluten intolerance can tolerate it. Having some sensitive tummy issues, I really wanted to experiment with that.

So, being the health-focused mama I am, I wanted to try it. But I was scared of getting another life form reliant on me.

The Mary’s shortcut tricked me into it and then I had this starter pretty much ready so it seemed like it was meant to be.

So now my starter sits on my bench when we are baking often and in my fridge when we take a break.

It has been the perfect hobby for a mama who has been struck down with severe pelvis issues and is heavily pregnant. While sourdough has several steps and rise times, the time I need to spend on my feet tending to it is low.

It is also much cheaper to bake this than to buy it. Flour, water, salt and starter (lovingly tended to) is all you need.

Can you really make sourdough at home?

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My Starter

It seemed like a big thing to have another “being” reliant upon me at this stage. But I found it really easy to stir in half a cup of flour and a quarter cup (plus two tablespoons) of water each morning. This takes about three minutes. When I am not going to use the starter for some time, I simply pop it in the fridge and feed it once a week.

What I have tried

Besides several types of loaves to varying degrees of success, I have tried a few other recipes. I have learnt that I don’t like any sweetener with my sourdough. So most American recipes are too sweet for me.

I made this sourdough skillet from Farmhouse on Boone for one dinner and it was awesome.

Sourdough cinnamon rolls sounded like a good idea, but it tasted a little odd – again the sweet with the sour doesn’t do it for me.

Sourdough cinnamon rolls
Sourdough cinnamon rolls

The One Sourdough Bread Recipe to Rule Them All

This quick, no knead sourdough from Mary’s Nest is the one I now make when I want a perfect loaf. It is my go-to.

Unfortunately my family don’t love the taste of sourdough. So my perfect, healthy starter is currently hibernating in the fridge and I make a loaf once a week (because I love it!).

making your own sourdough start and bread quickly

Have you played with sourdough? Any success?

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