As I type these words, sourdough bread is rising in the kitchen. My husband and I have been making our own bread for 12 years. In the spring we decided we were ready to try a new challenge: sourdough. So we ordered a starter from King Arthur—because theirs was started in 1789, the year the American Constitution was signed, and I am geeky enough to think it’s super cool that I have something that old living in my refrigerator.
But having a sourdough starter is a bit like having a cat. It’s mostly self-sufficient, but you still have to feed and water it. Hence this weekly routine:
Yesterday, I pulled my storage starter out of the fridge and divided it. Half I fed with flour and water and returned to the refrigerator. The other half I fed with flour and water and let rise on the counter. Later in the day I fed it again. Before bed I put it in the fridge. This morning I pulled it out of the fridge. And now, I am turning it into bread: I just finished mixing still more flour and water (and a little salt) with the sourdough starter.
In an hour, I will give the slightly risen dough two business letter turns (think of folding a business letter in thirds, and then doing so again) and let it rise for another hour. Then I will rinse and repeat. After that second rise and the third pair of business letter turns, I will let the dough rise for 5 or 6 hours, until it’s doubled. Then I will shape it into rounds and let it rise for another 3 or 4 hours. Then I will bake it.
Every time I make this bread, I think good grief, this is a lot of work. But when it comes out of the oven and I slice through its shattery exterior—sending crumbs of hot crust shooting like sparks all over the counter—and then through its soft, chewy center, and when I slather it with salted butter, and especially when …
Friends, you can read the rest of this piece over at Grace Table. (And just so you know, it’s not really about sourdough…)