I couldn’t wait to try out my 7-day-old home-cultured sourdough starter. It’s probably a miracle that I even got bread that rose, and was edible. I ate it, for sure, with spinach salad, Stilton, and a slosh of chardonnay. But I have two big criticisms of my first effort.
1. The dough was too wet. I’ve been working on making breads with wetter dough that are less kneaded and more coarse and bubbly. But I think I took that too far. The dough needs to be dry and stiff enough to hold a proper boule shape. My dough did double, though, within a couple of hours. Something is growing in there.
2. Though the bread did not taste at all yeasty, it also didn’t have much of a sourdough taste. My guess is that the problem primarily is the youth of my starter. I’m hoping that, as the starter matures, the lactobacillus bacteria will get a stronger foothold against the yeast, producing more lactic acid in the dough and hence a sourer taste. There may also be tricks I need to learn about how long to let the dough rise, when to feed the starter before I make the dough, and so on. This is something I don’t fully understand yet.
This is clear: Making sourdough bread is a fairly different set of skills than making bread with commercial dry yeast. I think I’ve also learned already that making sourdough bread requires more judgment and a greater understanding of the biology and techniques of breadmaking. Sourdough bread takes longer and rises slower. There are more variables, more things that might go wrong and that the experienced baker must work around or compensate for.
Oh well. One’s gotta start somewhere. But ultimately I want to learn to bake a smart but peasanty sourdough loaf that will be the signature bread of Acorn Abbey. The bread contains nothing but King Arthur whole wheat flour and water. There is no oil, except to coat the pan. Some time ago, I stopped even putting salt in bread, unless company is coming.