Monday Morning Open Thread: The State of Our Starters

10/4/21

You GUYS! Last week’s first open thread was better than I could have ever hoped. Nearly 50 of you chimed in with your baking stories and got to know one another a little bit. Your enthusiasm for baking bread is obvious, and it’s inspiring me to get back to work here!

If you were feeling shy or busy and didn’t yet add your own introduction, but still want to, it is never too late. As always, remember that you have to go to the post on Substack and add your comments below the post, so that everyone can read them, rather than replying to me in an email.

For time reasons, I can’t reply to every comment directly, but I read them all, and I’m definitely taking notes. Here are a few of my takeaways so far:

  • Katie from Chicago said hello to her “fellow Loafers”, and I have decided that from now on that is what we shall all be called. Loafers of the world unite!

  • As for requests for future recipes and techniques, a few things came up regularly:

  • Baguettes. This is definitely on my list. It’s a hard one to tackle, especially in a print recipe, and it is best taught in person. It’s high on my list for a future class, though, and the basics are actually quite easy, it’s just the shaping and scoring that are a challenge and require a lifetime of practice to master (I’m still working on a consistent baguette myself, even after years). I’ll probably start with a class and then turn it into a series of posts.

  • Pita. This one is coming soon. I have a sourdough pita recipe ready to go, so stay tuned for that, along with a class as well. Making pitas that puff reliably is actually quite easy, but it does require knowing what to look for when you are rolling them out.

  • Discard recipes. Definitely! I have way too much discard on hand right now myself, and need to come up with some new uses for it.

  • Old bread recipes. Andrea from CA asked for sourdough bread pudding, and I’ve had something along those lines in mind for awhile too. I do have a recipe for end-of-summer tomato soup coming this week which uses some old bread, so stay tuned for that. And it’s getting to be panade season again, and I have some more ideas along those lines too.

  • Fresh milled flour/whole grain breads - I’ve got some recipes in the works, including a 100% whole wheat flour sandwich bread that isn’t at all a brick.

  • Enriched/sweet sourdough breads. I started down this route last winter, and plan to push it over the finish line soon. I even have a guest poster in the works to help us sort out how to make sweet sourdough breads that aren’t sour.

  • Sharing recipes. As you all know, I’ve been bringing guest voices into the newsletter lately, and I’d definitely like to include yours too if time and space allows. If you have ideas for recipes (or posts about a bread or grain topic), email me directly and we can talk. (Looking at you, DeAnna!)


These open threads are for you all to talk about whatever is on your minds, but if you need a prompt this week, feel free to discuss the state of your sourdough starters. Share tips, questions, concerns, whatever. Mine has been kind of neglected lately, as I’ve been busy making rye-flour cookies for an upcoming issue of Edible Boston and (non-sourdough) pizzas for a series of upcoming posts I’m doing for Serious Eats on making the most of your Ooni-style tabletop oven. But I’m going to go give it some love right now.

If you don’t yet have a starter, you can always order a dried one from me, or (if you are a paid Wordloaf subscriber) ask me to mail you one for free.

—Andrew