It’s hard to believe that January is almost over!
I’ve made 4 loaves already this year and have been experimenting with increasing my hydration – I’m up to 75% now! I’m really surprised at the difference the 5% hydration gives – the new loaves are moist and tender, almost squishy(but in a good way!). I’m also trying new things with my leftover starter. To this end, I’ve made some pretty decent sourdough croissants. Croissants always seemed like an unattainable baking goal, so I was really happy to achieve good lamination and a great taste on these. The proofing time needs some work as I didn’t use any extra yeast and had to adapt the recipe to suit (I used Flour’s recipe for this).
With these gains in mind, my 2016 baking goals are to:
- Explore new and local flours for my sourdough bread baking
- Explore new baking methods (I currently use an enameled dutch oven, which works great but restricts me to boules)
- Add-ins! A few years ago, I lived a few miles away from King Arthur Flour’s VT bakery, and loved getting their Sonnenblumenbrot. I want to try adding things to my loaves, starting with Sonnenblumenbrot and Raisin Walnut sourdough.
- Develop a croissant process that delivers consistent results with my starter/available equipment
- Develop a waffle process that delivers consistent results with my starter/available equipment
Have you made any baking goals for 2016?
When I first started passaging my starter, I used tap water. I’ve since done a lot of reading to try to improve my skills, and found that the type of water used affects starter performance since tap water can contain inhibitory levels of chlorine. In my first experiment to test the impact of the type of water used, I split my starter into purified water and tap water (control).
Here’s a recipe and checklist I use when baking sourdough bread. I made the process flow diagram based on the instructions from a Stella video. I’ve made this loaf many times now – it’s easy and gets consistent results every time. I like having a printout every time I bake so that I can document the date, temperature and the time it takes for each step.
Feel free to download a printable copy.
There are loads of books and blog posts that detail the “proper” way to maintain a sourdough starter. However, I think the best way is one that works for your schedule. Here’s how I maintain my starter in an easy, practical way that fits into my schedule.
The person that gifted me my sourdough starter (Thanks Abbott!) suggested adding equal parts starter and new ingredients every 24 hours. The new ingredients are just flour and water. The flour I use is a mixture of King Arthur Flour (KAF) bread flour and whole wheat flour. To make refeeding easier, I keep a container of 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat flour on the counter.