The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lessons Learned from Carl's Friends

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YeastyBob's picture

Lessons Learned from Carl's Friends

I have started baking my own bread a number of times only to stop after a few loaves. Generally I stopped baking with instant yeast because I never got the flavor I wanted. I stopped several adventures into sourdough but abandoned them when I had trouble getting dough to rise. I had used several good starters but the problem was me. I have been baking my own bread a couple months now and am much more successful. The biggest lesson was how to be sure you have an active starter. In the past I would take a starter out of the fridge where it had been at least a week if not several add some flour & water and attempt to use after 4-8 hours. Sometimes it worked But often did not. Now I take a spoon of started plus a spoon of flour & a spoon of water. After 8 or more hours I add 1/4 cup of flour & 1/4 water and after 8 or more hours I repeat with 1/2 cup each for another 8 or more hours. As a final step I add 1 cup of the now very active starter to 2 cups flour & 2 cups water for a sponge I let go over night & build my bread using the sponge. I have been using Carl's starter & got the technique from the Carl's friends web site. It has been great. My breads so far have been simple sourdough, sourdough rye & sourdough wheat. None have been perfect but all have risen well and all have been delicious. The technique is simple but provides a very active starter and will probably work with any starter, not just Carl's. I am still learning as I go but the worst loaf so far has been delicious. I will keep learning for a long time.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Congratulations on your new found success!  Kudos for your perseverance too.  I recently read somewhere here on TFL that "Baking bread takes patience, and baking sourdough takes patience cubed".  I believe the quote was attributed to either Jeffrey Hammelman or to Mike Avery, but I am not positive.  Whichever it was, they were certainly on target.  Now that the sourdough bug has his tenacious little hooks in you, you are off for a fun ride. 

You said "None have been perfect but all have risen well and all have been delicious."  Perfection is elusive, but our mistakes are almost always edible, and quite tasty.  And soon, the evidence is gone.

Welcome to the wide world of sourdough baking.