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April 02, 2020
It's April 2, 2020 and our family is on day 11 of self isolation after returning home from Thailand. Everything feels very unknown, there is a lot of uncertainty and fear, and for good reasons. Folks are turning to each other for connection and to learn new skills. People are sewing, baking, making things... sharing with neighbours, grocery shopping for each other, leaving gifts at doorsteps.
It's both a beautiful and a scary time.
It's not business as usual, and in fact so many small businesses are facing failure with the threat of shutting down as doors have closed and people are staying home.
I'd love to keep Sola afloat and am hoping to do so. The workshop is closed until our self isolation is complete, at which point I can fulfill orders and ship them out.
In the meantime, I want to share content with you that I'm hoping you'll find helpful, and maybe even give it a try yourself. One of the skills I learned a few months ago was making sourdough bread. I've always been intimidated by it, starters sound alien and finicky, but my lovely neighbour Meaghan gave me some of her starter, so I gave it a go. After a few failed attempts, I keep trying and found a book that has been so incredibly helpful, Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa.
I'll be sharing the techniques I've learned from Emilie here, but please go support her and buy the book yourself, it has been the book I've had on my countertop pretty much daily since I purchased it.
Also a disclaimer.... I am no baker or chef. I'm just a regular person who is happy to share what I've learned along the way. There is a world of information out there, blog posts, Instagram pages detailing the steps, so please go out and learn as much as you can elsewhere too!
Here are my steps:
1. You can absolutely make a starter from scratch. If you know someone who is also making sourdough, they'll be happy to give you some of their starter to get started, but it's not necessaryA scale is helpful when making sourdough but again, also not necessary.Get a large jar (I use a one litre large mouth mason jar - you’ll want to allow for expansion) add 60 grams whole wheat flour (about 1/2 cup if you don’t have a scale) and 60 grams lukewarm water (about 1/4 cup). Mix with a fork. It will be very dry and not come together very smoothly and will look goop. Don’t worry about it, put a lid on it loosely and put it in a warm cupboard for approximately 24 hours. This is the jar on the left that I started from scratch. The jar on the right is the starter I received from my friend Meaghan that I revived from the fridge.
After 24 hours, you'll want to check on your starters. Jar on the right - this is for mature starters...Compost half of it, then add 60g whole wheat flour (approx 1/2 cup) and 60g lukewarm water (approx 1/4cup). Mix with a fork until smooth, lid loosely and put in a cupboard.For the starter you started from scratch... have a look at it, if it hasn't done anything, just leave it for another 24 hours. Check it again the next day.
Starters take 4-7 days to be ready from scratch, so just be patient.
Next day check on your starter:
So, you've fed your starter, and now you'll want to just put the lid on loosely again and store it in a warm place. We keep ours in a cupboard above our toaster oven, so it gets moments of heat throughout the day. I generally feed my starter in the am, and then use it in the evening to prep my dough for the next day.
Sourdough takes time....If you're starting your starter from scratch, expect it to take a few days until it's ready to use to make dough. Each day, check your starter. After 24 hours, it may still look the same, that's okay - just leave it for another 24 hours. Next time you check it, discard half of your starter - scoop it out and compost it, and then feed your starter. To feed it, add a quarter cup of warm water (approximately 60grams), and stir with a fork. Then add a half cup of all purpose flour (approximately 60grams) and stir again with your fork to combine. It will be lumpy and that's okay. Use a rubber band to mark the height of your starter on the outside of your jar. This is so you can measure the rise of your starter throughout the day.
Check it a few hours after you've fed it. Has it grown? Do you see bubbles? Does it look active? Once you have discarded and fed your starter a few more days (the whole process will take approximately 4-7 days), your starter should be ready to be used to make dough.
Once you are ready to use your starter....
Once your dough has rested for about 30 minutes, the next step is to work your dough into a rough ball...
Now your dough is ready for what's called the bulk rise. It will rest and rise over night and be ready for the next step in the morning. T
here are a lot of steps to making sourdough from scratch, but they are easy once you get the hang of it.
Okay, so now it's the next morning...
Okay, now it's time to get your dough into your proofing bowl and let it rise again before it heads into the oven...
Okay, next step! Lol.....Get your dough into your vessel and get it in the oven! I use an old casserole dish with a lid. You can use any oven proof bowl, casserole dish with kid, crock.... even a cookie sheet with an inverted oven proof bowl on top will work. You need a lid on your dough for the first 20 minutes in the oven to trap the heat - helps to make a great crust!
Okay! Your bread is done, it's been in the oven for one hour (20 minutes with lid on, 40 minutes lid off), you've removed it from the cooking vessel and placed it on a wire rack to cool for 45 minutes to an hour....
I hope this series has been helpful and if you have any questions, please let me know! Happy sourdough baking!
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