i think that good bread might just be the perfect food. chewy crust, dense, tangy center, warm flavors, crunch, perfection. i would happily eat good bread by itself for days without getting sick of it, and potentially i could eat it alone for years. there’s just something about the smell of baking bread in a kitchen that instantly makes you feel warm and cozy and right at home.
i’ve always had dreams of making delicious homemade bread, but i’ve been a little afraid of it at the same time. good bread is just so delicious, and i hate to make anything that doesn’t get eaten. somehow bad bread just seems like the worst thing ever. how sad is it to have a loaf that doesn’t rise properly, that doesn’t bake through, that doesn’t have any flavor? nobody likes bad bread.
but in my humble opinion, the absolute best bread is san francisco sourdough. sure, clearly i’m biased by being born in california and having a mother that’s obsessed with sourdough, but there’s just something about that tangy, chewy flavor that makes this bread unlike anything else. i’ve always wanted to try this out, but have heard the bread rumors that always seem to pop up – real sourdough doesn’t taste right if you don’t make it in the right places, starters won’t come out properly if you don’t really know what you’re doing, blah blah blah. i absolutely believe that good bread baking is an art, and that it can take years to develop these skills, but i also believe that at home bakers and chefs can still create delicious, artisan breads at home.
so. i’ve decided it’s time to cultivate my own sourdough starter and start baking sourdough bread at home. i just love it too much not to try it out. i’m following the pineapple juice method, which helps to control the pH in the starter and give it the extra boost of acid that it needs for the yeast to develop and get happy. you can also follow a more basic method just combining flour and water, but i wanted something that would be more difficult for me to screw up. this blog post does a beautiful job of explaining how the starter develops, how to keep it healthy, and why this technique creates the unique tangy flavors in sourdough bread.
once you’ve created a active, developed starter, you can use it to create more than just simple sourdough bread. this starter adds its delicious flavors to rolls, baguettes, rye breads, pumpkin loaves, or even pancakes and waffles. and after it’s fully developed, apparently it’s pretty difficult to kill. just keep feeding it and watching over it, and it will stay alive indefinitely, traveling with you to different places over the years and developing better, more complex flavors every time you use it.
today is day one of what will hopefully be a long and happy relationship with my brand new sourdough starter. please, whip up your own and follow along with me as i try not to kill this little guy – i’m very curious to see how this project develops.