Wowzers! Friends, I did not expect the journey of learning sourdough to be so tedious. But, it is so worth it. In the past year, I had a few friends pick up the art and encourage me to do the same. I wanted to, but I procrastinated because I was so intimidated. Come December, I received The Ballerina Farm’s sourdough starter “Willa” as well as a few kitchen tools to get the ball rolling. Willa was freeze dried, so I began the process of reviving her.
This is day 1 of reviving, featuring Gumbo. He was very interested in the process!
I was told that Willa can be baked with after 5 days, but my friend Abby said it is best to wait 2 weeks for best results. We are both learning at the same time and it is so fun!
This is Willa at day 5. I increased her feeding portions, but she did not begin to double in size yet.
At day 5, I immediately baked with her. Looking back, I made the mistake of baking with Willa too soon.
Here is my first batch of dough.
And, my first two loaves made from this batch.
YUCK! Dense and rubbery.
The second was definitely worse than the first.
You can also see my scoring attempts. Haha!
One of the best lessons I have learned in baking sourdough is that the mistakes are crucial, and there is so much beauty to be found in those disappointments. It is a very humbling process (haha). With each mistake I made, there was a lesson learned. I could apply that lesson to the next attempt, and see results.
Here is another attempt. I didn’t photograph the process every single time, so I am not sure where these images fall in the timeline. If my memory is correct, I had an awful batch before this one. The first loaf was rock hard, and I ended up tossing the rest of it.
Here is the dough. It overall had a better consistency.
Here is the loaf. It is still funny looking. My baking times were off, so the dough never browned. I also was having issues with proofing and scoring. Those are issues I still have, however they improve with each batch.
At least it tasted decent!
It still needed work, but my bread improved so much from here. This batch actually browned so I practiced some food photography.
My most recent batch was rosemary bread. It was inspired by my friend Sierra (who is so gifted and knows allll things about sourdough). She served a loaf one morning for breakfast and it had to have been the best I’ve had.
I will include links to her recipes and resources!
I baked this loaf for a special dinner with our friends, Abby and John. They are so special to Ben and I and have poured into our relationship so much. It is an honor to practice hospitality alongside Abby!
While my loaves presently are nowhere near perfect, the progress is still so rewarding. I cannot wait to bake more and practice. Sourdough is truly an art, and it is such a gift to be able to practice and grow in it.
Valuable lessons I have learned so far:
- The first few loaves upon learning will not be great, and that is okay!
- Mistakes are actually super helpful.
- Watch for doubling in size of the starter and the dough.
- Taking the lid off of the Dutch oven for the last portion of baking will brown the loaf, which is good!
- It is better to go by feel instead of recipe. This is why practice is important. I do not follow a recipe at the moment. I have combined techniques from different people as well as my own discoveries. That is what works for me. What works for you will probably be different based on climate and a number of other factors. Small changes can affect your bread.
- Be completely open to learning and correction. Find friends who also bake sourdough, so you can help one another along the way.
How to Revive Willa:
Willa’s Daily Feedings:
Hannah from The Ballerina Farm Willa individually, as well as the kitchen tools. She also as many more recipes for sourdough aside from bread.
Sierra’s Instagram Handle: @sierradenham
Sierra’s page is filled with recipes, tips, and more about sourdough. She loves the Lord and has such a beautiful heart for inspired and Godly homemaking.