First attempt at sourdough
Yesterday I made my first loaf of sourdough based on the Norwich Sourdough recipe from Susan's wildyeast blog. I have been baking bread regularly for the past two or three years -- mainly breads with overnight pre-ferments -- but had never attempted to make my own sourdough because I don't like the flavor of an overly sour bread. After learning a lot more about sourdough from books and this site, I realized that most of the information I was getting reinforced the idea that sourdough isn't necessarily all that sour. Plus, my kitchen is a nice 75-78 degrees these days, which seemed to be ideal for nurturing a new sourdough starter. So, I mixed together some flours and water, waited, fed it, and waited some more. After a week, my starter was more than doubling in four hours when fed a 1:2:2 mixture of starter, water, and flour by weight (I used KAF organic AP flour and a little rye in the first mixture, all AP after that) so I figured it was ready to test the starter with a real loaf. And it worked! I was extremely pleased with the whole process, and the bread tasted better than I had hoped. It really isn't sour at all; in fact, my husband and I thought it had a somewhat honey-like flavor. The loaf was baked on a pre-heated stone and covered for the first 15 minutes of baking with a pre-heated wide, shallow clay pot (it's about 11" in diameter and 5-6" deep and doesn't have a drain hole) that I bought specifically for that purpose. I love the color the crust gets when using the pot, although it limits my shaping options.
Thanks to everyone on this site who contributes such helpful information. I can hardly wait to try more sourdough recipes that I wasn't able to attempt before.