Getting Started with Sourdough
Sourdough. It's a labor of love.
A labor that we deeply love and feel incredibly lucky to get to do every day as our "work.” (Can you call it work when you love it this much?!)
But there are many more hobby bakers out there now than ever. (Cue the side note... Thanks to the pandemic!)
The New York Times even wrote an article about how pandemic bakers are now going pro and making it their full-time gig. It's an interesting read if you have the time.
With this nationwide increase in home baking, we're guessing some of you might be new bread bakers or are just getting started with sourdough. So we thought...
Why not share some of the top resources that have helped us cultivate our personal craft of sourdough?
What websites or books should I read first?
WEBSITE: The Perfect Loaf
This is the leading online award-winning blog for sourdough baking. It's an essential guide for any home baker.
BOOK: Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman
Jeffrey is the founding baker at King Arthur and one of the grandfathers of bread baking in the United States. This book is the place to go if you want to understand the WHYS of the technical aspects of bread making. It has been my guide to building knowledge of sourdough rather than specific recipes.
BOOK: Living Bread by Daniel Leader
Daniel is the founder of Bread Alone in New York City. He is also one of the grandfathers of artisan baking in the United States. This book is about his travels throughout Europe visiting multigenerational bakeries and learning the skills and recipes they’ve developed along the way. I would consider this book the best guide to European artisan bread that’s available.
What essential equipment do I need to get started?
You can get started as a hobby home baker for under $100. The two most important investments, in my opinion, are a cast iron dutch oven and the flour.
We suggest starting with this Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker. It’s what we purchased at the beginning and continued to use for the first 18 months of Voyageurs.
In addition to the dutch oven, you'll also need:
- A bench scraper
- A proofing basket
- A kitchen scale
But not just any flour…
What type of flour do you suggest?
This is a common question we get asked. Here's the short and sweet...
King Arthur is the highest quality bread flour you can easily find. At Voyageurs, we use a combination of King Arthur bread flour plus locally grown stone-ground flours. In order to achieve the rise in the bread that most consumers prefer, a certain percentage of bread flour is necessary.
King Arthur bread flour can easily be found at Woodman's. I'd also suggest exploring local wheat growers and investing in some whole wheat flour.
To taste the difference that high-quality artisan flour makes in a loaf of sourdough, pre-order a loaf of Voyageurs bread this week.
[Pictured above: Using a bench scraper to shape bread in the early days of Voyageurs at St. Jude Church Kitchen]
Sharing bread knowledge is something we love to do with our community. We call it… BREADUCATION.
We have not re-invented the wheel when it comes to sourdough. Rather, we are simply knowledge seekers discovering the core of traditional artisan bread making techniques.
We hope these resources will be helpful to you as you make your own discoveries of sourdough. If you have any questions or need help troubleshooting, please reach out in the comments below or send us a message. We love hearing from you!
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