Salt. Water. Flour.
That’s how easy it is to gather the ingredients for simple, wholesome sourdough bread.
I remember the folks at Forgotten Way sharing how we ought to for the sake of health and finances “eat like a peasant” more. Well, by choice or by force, more of us are moving towards eating like peasants but that’s no reason to give up our daily bread if desire and finance dictate that bread ye shall have!
It used to be that with those four ingredients I listed any homestead could not only make bread, but have enough starter to begin another batch (and another…). And nowadays….any home still can.
When I first began baking my own bread, the ingredients included things like honey or extra gluten or vitamin C powder. And of course, the instant yeast. These kinds of modern day recipes would have been pretty near impossible to deal with a few generations back, not to mention that those extra ingredients cost extra money. Commercial yeast has only been around for the last 140 years or so and it is just one area of our lives that we have become chained to dependency. After all, who can make commercial yeast? Flour, water and salt are far easier to come by.
I encourage you to experiment with and to try sourdough baking. The first time you pull a crackly loaf of sourdough bread out of your oven your chin will be damp with drool! The whole process is actually very satisfying. There are ways to wash and revive starters you think you’ve killed and even “failures” such as flat boules come out delicious (croutons!).
Currently I am rotating four different starters. Each has a different flavor, a different personality. Some are quick and some take their easy-going time. Some announce their sourdough-ness loud and clear and others just whisper it. All are yummy!
My project these days with sourdough revolves around dehydrating starter for safe keeping. What if I were to forget to save some starter or break the jar? What if none of my friends kept the sourdough starters I shared? What if I couldn’t just go online and order more starter? What if bread at the store hits $18 a loaf? (I know, I know….that could never happen….)
All I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a skill to work out and learn, sourdough baking is pretty near perfect. There are a lot of informative sites and recipes on the internet, but these have been my favorite books to learn and work out of (I’m old-school that way):
May your breads be filling and a delight to all of your senses and to your family around your table. Baking like a peasant is not so bad.
Feel free to check out my friend Jasmine’s thoughts on the subject, too!