Like many people this year, I spent more time in my home kitchen because some of our favorite staples were not always available. This included bread, buns, tofu, vegan cheese, specialty condiments and so much more.
Even though there is no longer a bread and flour shortage, this post shares with you the easiest way to make sourdough bread and maintain a starter. But before that, here’s one of my realizations this year.
my grocery shopping addiction
In the Before Times (what my family is calling our lives before February 2020) I was going to the grocery store at least 3 times a week, for clients and for my own pleasure. Yes, I said pleasure! I’m someone who loves to shop for food. I felt irritated not being able to get that special ingredient when I wanted it. At times, I felt a lot of guilt and shame about being in the position to have access to some of the best food this planet offers while others were just hoping to have enough to feed their bellies. For a couple of months, I didn’t want to even talk about food and pursued other interests. This year really made me look long and hard at my serious food shopping addiction. I know it’s not shopping in general because I didn’t buy a single piece of clothing this year. I’m sure you have slowed down too and accessed things about yourselves that you can let go of.
I am thinking ahead to how my food shopping habits will change in the future. I will continue to be content using what I have, making more of my own staples (including bread), and supporting even more local artisans and small food producers.
Here are 2 local companies that can help you create the best bread at home!
There are so many ways to make sourdough. I’ve tried so many different ways including making starter from scratch, using a commercially made starter powder (like Cultures of Health), or starter from friends. Why sourdough though…why not just make bread with yeast? It is easier, especially with a bread machine. I love yeasted bread…but I notice that when I eat it, I want to eat the whole loaf! With sourdough, a couple of chewy, flavorful slices feel very satisfying. Another great thing is that sourdough is vegan, and many people who have gluten sensitivity may be able to enjoy sourdough because of the longer rise times and diverse microorganisms.
I love fermenting and have grown something in a jar for the last 15 years. See my fermentation posts here. Single yeast bread is like monocropping, whereas sourdough is like a tropical rainforest. Those wild yeast cultures and lactic acid bacteria really make a difference when it comes to digestibility and a bouquet of flavors.
It was only this past December that I have found my new favorite method. It’s making sourdough with levain dur, a French method of a solid starter. This dough-like starter is fantastic because it does not need to be fed as frequently and does not need to live on your counter. This fact alone makes the process so much easier!
My solid starter can live in my fridge for a week until I bake or it needs to be fed.
Now you are wondering where do you get this starter? If you live in Austin, TX, you are in so much luck!
Easy peasy from Easy Tiger Bake Shop! They make such wonderful bread and you can find it all over town in the best sandwiches! Mmmmm their ciabatta is the best. To get the levain dur from them feels like cheating!
But I tell you, this starter will make your sourdough life so much easier! You can even transform it to make a batter-like starter if you need.
I’ve made AP flour boules, whole-wheat blends, einkorn sourdough, and even pizza. I feel so thankful for learning this method.
The Easy Tiger levain dur comes with easy instruction perfect for beginners.
I’ve watched Appolonia Polaine’s Master Class for sourdough breadmaking and have learned some of her techniques but really this Easy Tiger Sourdough levain dur is the best method I’ve found!
Don’t live in Austin? You can order Easy Tiger’s starter online!
If you have a liquid starter you love, you can transform it into a solid with this recipe by King Arthur Flour. Easy Tiger’s sourdough method can be found here.
My favorite part of making sourdough with this method is when you break the sourdough starter into pieces and swish them in the warm water. It’s a fun sensation and something I think kids would like. This method also doesn’t require kneading, just time!
Barton Springs Mill
One suggestion is to use the very best flour you can get. For regular grocery flours, try to find ones that are organic and stone ground. Stone ground flours contain more nutrients and less degradation because the milling process does not happen under high temperatures like in industrial mills.
When flour ran out in grocery stores this spring, we were able to order 10 lb bags of flour from Barton Springs Mill, which is located in Dripping Springs.
You can still order online and have it delivered to your home.
They offer all kinds of flour and whole grains. Even colorful heirloom red and green corn.
I’m very excited to keep exploring! I have some banneton baskets now that I’m hoping to use along with a new UFO scoring tool. I’d love to see what you make and if you have any tips!
Yours in beautiful bread making!
Easy Tiger – Austin, TX Curbside pickup and online ordering available
Barton Springs Mill – In Dripping Springs, TX and can be found in some grocery stores (Whole Foods) Online ordering available.
Dutch Oven by Lodge -I use this to bake my boules.
Baking Steel – You’ll never use those cheap, cracking pizza stones again
Emile Henry Ceramic Pizza Stone
Dough Whisk – a fun tool that makes mixing batter or dough easier!
UFO lame – I think these give you more control than wand lames.
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