Succumbing to Sourdough

A loaf of homemade sourdough on the kitchen counter

An Atlanta Photographer Takes on Sourdough Bread

As regular readers of my blog know, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis back in March, my friend Tarek was stranded in the U.S. trying to get back to Poland. He stayed with my daughter, Claire, and me for a week. 

While Tarek was here, he showed me a video about sourdough bread. It was intriguing and I wanted to try making it, even though I rarely bake. 

I used to make a couple of loaves of wheat bread a week when the kids were in school. I hated all the non-food ingredients in store-bought bread and wanted a healthier alternative. 

At the time, I found an easy wheat bread recipe and went with it. I haven't made bread in about five years. I'm trying to find that recipe for Claire because she wants to make it, but so far I haven't come up with it. 

After watching the sourdough video with Tarek, I got online and looked up some sourdough starter recipes. They all looked easy enough. I didn't think to look all the way through to the actual bread recipe.

I didn't realize that making sourdough was becoming a quarantine thing.

The store shelves were almost empty of flour. I got one of the last bags of whole wheat flour available at Murder Kroger. Oh - that - it's the nickname for the local Kroger because there've been a few murders there over the years. 

Corporate finally demolished the old store and put up a huge new Kroger store/office building in its place but the name sticks. Every year at Halloween, there's a Murder Kroger float in the parade at Little Five Points. I'm sure the executives at Kroger are thrilled.  

Anyway, I got distracted. 

I got my wheat flour and a bag of all-purpose flour and made the starter. It's super easy making a sourdough starter. 

I was hoping Tarek would see the bread come to fruition but it was almost two weeks before I was able to make an actual loaf. The starter takes at least a week before it's ready and then there was the flour issue. I couldn't get bread flour at the store and had to order some online.

Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour and it does make a difference when you're making bread. 

When I was finally able to make the sourdough, the first few loaves fell flat. They tasted wonderful, especially hot out of the oven but there was no denying, they were only about an inch and a half high!

To be fair, the first two loaves were made with all-purpose flour because of the bread flour issue. But the first couple of loaves I made with bread flour were only marginally better. 

It wasn't until I read about the "float test" that my bread really got good. Sometimes the starter looks frothy and bubbly and ready to go but it's only fooling. If you put a teaspoon of the starter into a glass of water and it sinks to the bottom, it won't make a good loaf of bread. If, however, the starter floats, you're good to go.

Also, I had no idea until I finally read the bread recipe how involved one loaf is.

Mix the starter, flour, olive oil, and water, shape into a ball (while trying to keep it from sticking to your hands and everything else).

Let rest for an hour.

Shape into a tighter better ball. Let rest for 2-12 hours depending on how long it takes to rise.

Shape again.

Let rise for another hour.

Bake for 20 minutes in a dutch oven with the lid on. Take the lid off. Bake another 30 minutes. Open the oven door. Bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool for an hour. Whew!

I started using bread flour and the float test and got the hang of all the shaping and rising and now my loaves are big and tasty, except for last night's loaf that had very little flavor.

I think I used the starter too soon after its last feeding.

I've gained 5 pounds in the last two months!

Time to put the starter in the fridge and stop making so much bread - or maybe it's been the chocolate chip banana bread? Sigh. Sometimes stress eating is too good to pass up. 

Our governor here in Georgia is already opening things back up for business but since I don't have health insurance, I'll be waiting until it proves to actually be safe. We'll see. 

In the meantime, I'm learning a little bit about food photography. As you can see, I still need a lot of practice with that!

A cut loaf of fresh sourdough bread

I need to step up my styling game, and the lighting was terrible. I was in the middle of making dinner with the fresh bread and wasn't going to take the time to set up my softboxes, but I had to stop and at least get a couple of photos. 

It's hard to believe May is around the corner.

My daughter's birthday, Mother's Day, and my birthday - beginning, middle, and the tail-end of the month. It's going to be a quiet birthday for my daughter this weekend since we're still observing the quarantine.

I think our governor made a mistake opening things back up so soon, but I understand that people are losing everything they've worked so hard for and many are anxious to get back to work.

I think he should have gone with the CDC recommendations, though. If he's wrong, everything could get much worse.

We'll know soon.  

Whatever you're doing, I hope you're hanging in there.

The raindrops are coming hard and fast now into most everyone's lives. Do your best to dance between them - that's where you'll find me!


I'll be wrapping up my current print giveaway contest tomorrow and starting another one soon. I'm still running my 25%-off sale for all my prints. If you're interested, use the code Video25 at checkout for your discount.