I have been given a sourdough starter a while ago and it’s a bit like having a plant you need to water and feed. In the beginning I fed and watered it every day. Then I started to read up on sourdough and discovered that I don’t have to do that every day, I can keep it in the fridge and it even can be frozen. I bought the Bread: River Cottage Handbook No. 3 and it has been very useful. It has made me quite confident in baking bread. The page Sourdough has sourdough splattered all over it, even though I actually know the recipe by heart now. But I feel if I don’t have the book open on that page I might forget something. Stupid, I know.
I have had a few mishaps in the past where my dough didn’t rise as much as I hoped for, but the last two weekends my bread turned out wonderful, probably due to the warm weather as I just plonked my big bowl with the dough in it into the sun (covered with a damp towel) and it rose beyond expectation!
Last weekend I tried out wholemeal seeded flour and made three small loaves. It was tougher kneeding the wholemeal dough than the normal strong flour dough which irritated me and I ended up pummeling the dough quite a bit and also bashing it onto the kitchen counter. I think that also helped with how the bread turned out!
I should have listened to Hugh though, make the sponge the night before and not in the morning of the day you want to bake bread. It’s quite time consuming as you need to let the sponge develop over night (ideally), then in the morning you add the rest of the ingredients, kneed it for 10-15 minutes and then let it rise for an hour at least. Then you need to shape it and let it rise again and for best results you need to repeat this process a few more times. But I didn’t. I got up Saturday morning to make my bread and that’s the reason why I ended up having a slice of still warm bread with butter and homemade jam at midnight instead of hours earlier.
Baking bread is so satisfying, everyone can do it and it doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Go for it!