I’ve never made sourdough. I’ve never made a starter (well, I did try once. It turned into a muddy stinking mess after three days). I would like to try, not because I love sourdough, but because it’s a challenge, and anyone learning to bake bread should tackle it at least once!
Does anyone have any good advice for a beginner? What is the best way to begin and maintain a starter (I know this is a hotly debated issue, but surely there’s an entry level!) How much starter do I make in the beginning? What should I look for while the starter is developing (yes, I’ve done some research, but I’d like to hear from actual people with personal experiences, with whom I can exchange info and ask questions). When the starter is ready, how much do I add to the dough? And who pays for all the flour I’ll throw out while developing and maintaining the starter (just kidding. Kind of). Are all sourdough breads chewy and a bit tough, or are there versions with a softer crumb? Can I use the starter in any other kind of bread with beneficial results, or does sourdough starter, as the name implies, just for sourdough bread?
Believe it or not, I was the same way when I started baking straight breads. Fear is a bread killer!