Artisan sourdough hearth loafThere is an enormous science around sourdough. You could easily spend years perfecting your methods, measuring ambient humidity and water temperatures, precisely weighing your specialized bread flours and worrying about autolysing and hydration and all sorts of other things. If that’s you, do you. There are so many great resources out there, and I am never one to turn up my nose at precision or evidence-based methodology. I think it’s great! But turns out, it’s not me. Especially not when it comes to bread baking. I started a little bread baking journal myself about six months ago, recording all the details of the daily bake, but abandoned it a few days later. I occasionally feel a pang of guilt, like I’m not a “real” sourdough baker, but then I remind myself that this is the oldest bread. Your great-great-great grandmother may have been making this in her kitchen. She did not have ambient humidity monitors or perfectly temperature-controlled proofing boxes. The bread probably changed with the seasons; a little more oven spring when the weather was humid, a longer bulk rise when winter closed in. Sourdough is alive, and it’s changing, and for me, baking with it requires flexibility and a daily assessment of what feels right.


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