My original recipe for sourdough bread gave me a soft crust. My family and I were quite happy with that until I saw other sourdough breads in the Perfect Sourdough facebook group.
That challenged me to learn the craft of traditional sourdough bread baking. And do you know what that entailed? Watching lots of youtube videos and even enrolling in Teresa Greenway’s Udemy course Sourdough Bread Baking 101.
In the process, I had to buy some needed tools and equipments to up my craft:
1) Digital weighing scale because not all cups are created alike so the volumes can vary and can also be affected by how packed your flour is, and the kind of flour you use. So if you want consistency in your consistency (I love that word pun), then yes, please invest in a scale. Teresa recommended the KD8000 Baker’s Math Scale. I’m very happy with it.
2) A proofing basket because you want to see
those ridges on your bread even just for once, right? I bought this two-pack Banneton basket and put plastic shower caps over it. I know that’s cheating but I don’t want to clean off the flour each time. I just like the design imprinting on my bread not the bread sticking to it.
3) Scoring Lame because without it, scoring is lame. I’ve used knives with poor results. I know this is just a regular Gilette blade which you can stabilize with a chopstick. But the leather covering makes up for the price.
I may have added tools in my kitchen but I subtracted ingredients in my sourdough recipe as a result of this sourdough education. Apparently, you bake traditional sourdough bread with a sourdough starter, all-purpose unbleached flour, water, and salt. That’s all. And you bake it at 450F.
No wonder my breads always come out pale and soft and not the crusty golden ones I see online.
With much practice and experimentation, I got better and got deeper into the flour of things. It’s a joy and an obsession that’s hard to brush off. The quest for the perfect sourdough gets more elusive as you get better. I don’t know why. When the crumb is soft, the crust is not crispy enough. When the crust is crispy, the scoring is not pretty enough, and so on and so forth.
And when finally one day I felt I got it, I had to experiment with other types of starters, namely rye, brown rice, and spelt. And the process starts all over the again.
I guess you can say, the evolution goes on.