I just read a small book called Do Sourdough: Slow Bread for Busy Lives, by Andrew Whitley.  The book contains everything a beginner needs to know to work with sourdough, from creating a starter to using it in bread (recipes included), without any additional clutter. Mr. Whitley, a baker after my own heart, points the reader toward the cheapest solutions and the easiest methods. I have friends interested in sourdough, as a possible solution to gluten intolerance, and this is the book I will point them to.
Even for long-time bakers, the book contains many gold nuggets. For example, Mr. Whitley keeps his starter in the fridge for months, never wasting flour on feedings, and never throwing any away. I’m a little bit scared to try this but it sure would save flour. I also learned that less starter makes a stronger flavor, because it slows the rising time (controlled by yeasts) and enables the bacteria to make more flavor molecules. (See my last blog post about this.)
I also learned about these items:
- When you scale up recipes with baker’s yeast, you usually decrease the yeast because the large mass of dough holds heat, which speeds up the reactions; no adjustment is needed with sourdough, because its microorganisms perform more slowly.
- That bubble that forms under the crust during baking? Mr. Whitley has a whole list of possible causes!
- Want a softer crust? Try dusting your shaped dough with flour, which interferes with crust formation. Or, wrap the finished loaf in a towel to trap moisture, or brush the loaf with olive oil.
- Why should you use organic flour? I always did it for the environment, but Mr. Whitley points out that non-organic flour contains residues of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides (no!) designed to kill, and will affect the health of your yeasts and bacteria.
Do Sourdough was a delightful quick read, and I’m excited to have it on my shelf. It’s website is http://thedobook.co/products/do-sourdough-slow-bread-for-busy-lives.
 Whitley, Andrew. Do Sourdough: Slow Bread for Busy Lives (United Kingdom: The Do Book Co., 2014).