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.