Due to the Covid years, I think by now we have all tried our hand at making a loaf of sourdough bread, whether it was a successful attempt or not. I was a little later to the game. My Mom was the first to join this worldwide elite club of bread artisans, and I was dually impressed that she had ventured to make her own starter as well.
I remember speaking to my Mom in one of our long-winded phone conversations where she regaled me with details on her latest loaf of this crunchy, pillowy variety of bread.
She informed me of the nuances of working the dough, allowing it to rise, kneading it with proper form, baking techniques and the tools needed to properly form a loaf worthy of a boulangerie window or San Francisco soup shop.
I like to think that perhaps it is in our DNA somehow to craft bread. Poilâne Bakery in Paris, France is a third generation boulangerie renowned for creating the best sourdough in the world by hand, since 1932.
Aside from being at the top of my destination wish list, the foodie nerd in me likes to dream and wish that our strikingly similar last names means that the owner, Apollonia, and I are somehow cousins removed somewhere back in the recesses of our lineage. I have no proof or facts to justify any connection whatsoever, but hey…a girl is allowed to dream, right?
But, I digress. Back to the breadmaking process. The one factor that I couldn’t wrap my head around that my Mom kept referencing when we spoke was “feeding the starter” every couple of weeks to “keep it strong.”
What did this mean?! Was this a living entity that resided in her refrigerator, and why was it so hungry?! I was intrigued, to say the least. I kept picturing that plant from Little Shop of Horrors and wondering if her starter would shout “feed me” in Steve Martin’s voice from the back of the refrigerator every time she opened it to grab the butter or pour a glass of iced tea. While that sounds pretty cool, it is not that dramatic. So, let me explain the science behind it.Read more