I just put a loaf of sourdough bread in the oven. I made it, including the starter, myself. I am not sure if this one is going to turn out. I made my first one a few weeks ago, and it was a total flop.
Like many cooks I am terrible at following directions. I read cookbooks before I go to bed as if they are stories. From there I generally close the book, and keep the recipes in my head. I call it cooking with my eyes closed. This type of cooking has allowed me to develop my cooking senses and instincts and to adjust recipes to my own tastes.
There are exceptions to this- when baking or cooking with meat I tend to look at the recipe more carefully as I am not as comfortable making these things. When starting out on this sourdough adventure I sought out some instructions. The instructions I found advised me the proper measurements for water and flour for my starter, what the sourdough starter should look like in a few days and some troubleshooting methods if the starter was not working out. I did these measurements for two days and I found my starter to be too dry, I increased my water by two tablespoons. I then found my starter to be too wet, so I decreased my water by one tablespoon. At the end of fives days everything seemed to look right: it was spongy, had some great bubbles in it and smelt sour.
To make my first loaf of sourdough I found a list of directions to follow: add the starter to water, add flour, stretch out the dough, allow to proof, stretch out again, allow to proof again, let it sit overnight, stretch, proof, bake. I have my suspicions why my first sourdough didn’t work. I am guessing that my stretching/kneading technique was a bit off and I needed to start with warmer water and a warmer kitchen.
Here is the thing about directions in regard to cooking: they don’t always work. Directions are a linear path- to get you from A to B, and cooking is hardly ever like that. Often we need more information. This is why I am attracted to cookbooks and recipes that are full of instruction and description to guide you through a recipe, so you can start a conversation with a food that you are making.
So we will see about this second sourdough that is about to come about of the oven. I found a bit more information about the process of sourdough making: what to look out for and what your dough should feel like. I am willing to accept that is loaf might be a total flop too- the art of sourdough bread making is called an art for a reason. It takes time to understand it. It is part of a new adventure. Welcome to my site.