In Spring 2020, at the height of the quarantine sourdough fad, we decided to join the masses and embark on our own sourdough venture.
Our journey started out full of hope and optimism as Alex attempted his first sourdough using the starter he had been patiently making from scratch.
Hmm… not the best start, but let’s blame it on the starter 😬
After another sub-par bake, we decided to call in help. We got some starter from our friend Tiffany who had been baking successful loaves, which meant that if we continued to fail we couldn’t blame it on the starter anymore.
Using the new starter and lots of math, Alex had some success with a couple decent loaves! At this point, he decided to quit while he was ahead, declared that it was too hard, and retired from sourdough.
Until that point, I had left all the sourdough making to him because it sounded like too much work (and too much math), but since we already had the starter I decided to give it a go.
I reserved a whole weekend to attempt my first sourdough and carefully followed the guide from Claire Saffitz on NYTCooking.
I ended up with 2 loaves I was pretty darn proud of! The only real issue was that the bottom was burnt.
Throughout the summer I baked sourdoughs a few more times, some to greater success than others. I would often forget to feed Bubbles the starter for weeks at a time, but was always able to revive her. I figured out how to avoid burning the bottoms of my loaves using a combo of tricks from the internet, including placing a baking pan below the dutch oven, and putting cornmeal or coiling some parchment at the bottom of the dutch oven.
Feeding the starter always felt like such a waste to me (it requires throwing away most of it and then adding another cup of flour and water), so I tried a couple sourdough discard recipes. My fave were these herby olive oil crackers, kind of reminiscent of wheat thins and great with cream cheese.
The end: RIP Bubbles
It’s now December and I can’t remember the last time I fed Bubbles the starter, so I threw it all away (it was looking pretty grey and slimy, ew) 😔. It became too much of a chore to keep up with but it was fun while it lasted! I could see picking it back up maybe next summer when it’s warm enough for dough to rise. I have so much more appreciation for bakery sourdough and the amount of skill and time it takes to bake consistently great loaves. Now I’m craving some bread from Tartine 😋
Meanwhile: Yeasted breads!
In the meantime, I’ve also been baking various breads using active dry yeast. Until this year, I’d always been intimidated by any doughs that required yeast and time to rise. I did screw up a couple times but in general I’m a lot more comfortable with it! Below are: braided scallion bread, chocolate things, and a black sesame babka.