Two steps forward, one step back

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My attempts to make a sourdough loaf have been futile. This time I actually baked a loaf but it needs improvement.

As I have previously discussed my issues with my sourdough starter, I needed help. For this attempt, I used a pre-made sourdough starter that I bought online. It was relatively inexpensive, about $15 before shipping and there were lots of different websites offering starters. Even Amazon sells them, if you’re so inclined.

Buying a pre-made starter can be a bit risky too. The company I used explained that the starter could be damaged in transit, if the conditions are not right. Luckily, mine was fine. Looking after a sourdough starter is like caring for a pet. Even the pre-made versions require a lot of attention and fairly constant feeding. The sourdough starter will show you that something is off if you don’t care for it properly. I know this for certain: my kitchen smelled terribly with my last attempt.

This time, I followed the instructions to the letter. I covered my starter jar with a breathable cloth and kept it in the microwave (when not in use) to ensure a constant temperature. This starter was WAY happier: bubbly, sweet smelling, and growing exponentially on a daily basis.

I decided it was time to attempt a loaf. I used a basic recipe that came with the starter. A combination of starter, flour, salt and water. Everything seemed to come together nicely.

Once mixed into a dough, the instructions were to place the dough (shaped into a loaf) on to a baking sheet or cutting board and covered with a light towel. So I did just that. I placed the dough on a baking sheet, covered it with a tea towel and let it sit in the oven (turned off) to proof. The instructions suggested this process should last from 4-24 hours. I let it rest for about 22 hours.

When I came back, the dough had expanded to cover almost the entire cookie baking sheet but had not risen at all. So, I reshaped it into a loaf, and baked it at 400F for 30 minutes. The instructions said it could take between 30-60 minutes.

When it came out (after about 45 minutes) it looked pretty good. Like an actual sourdough loaf.

Then, I sliced into it. Really dense and a slightly vinegar taste. It certainly needs work. This time, I was pleased that it even looked like a sourdough loaf.

Back to the drawing board I go, trying to figure out just what went wrong. I’ll keep you posted.

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