Ingredients & Tools
There are really just 3 ingredients for sourdough bread (besides your sourdough starter):
I have very specific flours that I use -- and I highly recommend that you start with these:
The Flours We Use
King Arthur High Gluten Flour
King Arthur Unbleached Flour
King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
Remember: This is a transitional bread to learn the sourdough process. If you make it exactly as I show, with the exact ingredients I recommend, you will come up with a product that your family will eat. And, that’s what it’s about. If your family won’t eat it, what’s the point?
So, start here with these flours. Learn the sourdough process. And, if you want to try different flours in the future, you are more than welcome to experiment.
I buy mine in 50 lb. bags so it reduces the cost. I store my flour in plastic tubs in the garage in the winter, or in a refrigerator in the summer.
A Good, Quality Salt
A Good, Quality Salt
You’re looking for a good, Celtic or Himalayan salt. Something that hasn’t been refined or highly processed.
Iodized salt can be highly processed, stripped of minerals, and altered with fillers and preservatives.
Best to steer clear and use the real stuff.
The Best Water You Have Access To
I recommend getting your water from a good quality source. The best you have access to.
If that means tap water, start there. Though, be aware that chemicals present in tap water can alter the flavor or the rise of your bread.
The best would be your own filtered well water, spring water or reverse-osmosis water.
Sourdough starter is what makes your bread rise.
It can be made in a variety of ways, but it’s main components are flour, water, and yeast.
You can make your own sourdough starter, but I highly recommend using a proven starter that someone else has been using for their sourdough process.
My grape sourdough starter has been around for almost 30 years, and I’ve shared it with those that have taken my sourdough class in the past.
Sourcing Your Sourdough Starter
In all the years of teaching Sourdough Bread Classes in my kitchen, it was a matter of course — and delight — to share my starter with each student.
Obviously, this isn’t feasible for Jamie and I in an on-line format.
So, where can you get starter for your sourdough? Here are some sourcing suggestions:
Source it from a local, sourdough baker. Just as Jamie and I encourage you to get out and ‘dig around’ your community for other traditional food sources, do the same to find a ‘tried and true’ starter in your community. Ask producers at Farmer’s Markets, Weston Price Chapters and Meetings, local bakeries, and health food stores. Check with any natural health-oriented community group. Check with any retirement and/or agricultural women’s groups. Check with your own local food co-op or meat/egg/vegetable farmer. Check with your own relatives. You may be surprised by all the sources in your community if you just start asking questions!
Buy it on-line from a reputable, or friend-recommended source. Follow directions to grow your starter to a one-cup volume before converting to my instructions for growing the starter to make bread. (We feel this is the ‘better’ choice because it can save you a lot of time and frustration versus the ‘good’ choice.)
Start your own. This can be a sticky business—-it was for me. Many people are successful at this; I was not. Yes, I could get a starter going, but it didn’t produce a grain product that was palatable to my family. And, if you make the (theoretically) healthiest bread in the world, but your family won’t eat and enjoy it, what’s the point? So, I eventually acquired starter from a professional baker that gave me the results I wanted, and I was off to the races!
So, if making your own starter is a path you wish to take, then go for it. (The westonaprice.org website or Nourishing Traditions Cookbook are top-notch resources.) Traditional households throughout history made and kept their starter for generations. You can do it, too.
No matter what starter you begin with, know that by actually using and growing it, an important thing happens:
IT BECOMES UNIQUELY YOUR OWN.
That is, it feeds on the friendly bacteria of your home, your environment, your utensils, your kitchen. Plus, many bakers believe that starter bacteria actually respond positively to your loving care as evidenced by growing and bubbling vigorously!
That all adds up to a flavor and consistency that is unique to the work of your hands. No one can make bread taste exactly how yours does, when prepared in your home. How cool is that!?
It’s my pleasure to assist you in this part of nurturing the art of a healing table. Who knows? Maybe someday you and I can sit down to a cozy tasting of your own unique, sourdough bread—-made with love and eaten in peace.
Really you just need a few simple tools to get started:
A wooden spoon
A large bowl
I use a few extra tools — such as my kitchen weapon, aptly named a Danish Whisk. It’s not necessary, but it does come in handy as you will see later.
Also, I have a rolling pin, some spatulas, and a pastry knife on hand, as well as a pastry mat that makes cleaning up the workspace a snap.
But really, that’s about it.
You can get fancy equipment if you want, but these are the basic tools you need to get started.