Saturday, January 1, 2022

My Sourdough Journey


At the end of 2018, one of my co-workers brought 2 sourdough breads and shared with us.  She told me it took her 2 days to make.  I replied: "That was amateur, I could have done it in a couple of hours."  Boy, was I wrong!  After multiple days of researching, did I start to appreciate the art of sourdough making.  Additionally, I learned that sourdough bread was one of the most healthy breads because they were using the sourdough starter, a mixture of nature good bacterial from the air and wild yeast, instead of the dry yeast for the fermentation and no sugar added.  In fact, most of the glucose has been broken up by the bacterial in the starter, hence the sourness of the bread.

Year 2018 - The beginning:

A few days before the X'mas, I started my sourdough starter.  I watched many youtube videos beforehand  on how the starter was made.  I'd watched so many even I dreamt about them in my sleep.  One week later, my sourdough starter was ready and I tried to make some.  I should have taken the pictures, but I didn't because I wouldn't know what to call them.  I don't remember after throwing away how many "sourdough breads," I was finally brave enough to take a picture of my first "sourdough bread":

My first "sourdough bread" which looked like a sourdough bread back in Dec 31, 2018.

Year 2019 - Experiments:

After my first "successful" sourdough bread, I urged to make more.  I started experimenting different ways of making them:
  • Kneading vs. no kneading;
  • Different hydrations: 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, etc;
  • Different stretch and fold methods;
  • Different scoring methods;
  • Fridge vs. no fridge;
  • Different types of flours;
  • Different length of bulk fermentation;
  • Different length of retard in the fridge;
  • Combo cooker vs. no combo cooker;
  • Added ice cubes in the combo cooker before baking;
  • I even purchased a Kitchenaid stand mixer;
  • I tried coffee liquid instead of water;
  • At the end, I tried to add different ingredients such as sesame seeds, dried cranberries, walnuts, coffee liquid, peanut jam, etc.

A better one 2 days after.

5 days after.

2 days later.

1 week after, my sourdough went bad again.

3 weeks later, another bad one.

1 week later, a bad one too.

5 days later, finally, one that I really liked but couldn't replicate ever again.

3 days later, I started adding sesame seeds on top but I didn't like that because the seeds were all over the places when I tried to slide it or eat it.  Also, note that I had been using a pyrex dish and a tall pan to bake my sourdough.

After the baking.

1 week later.

I started adding cranberries.

2 days later.

1 week later.

4 weeks later.

8 weeks later, my sourdough seemed to get worst.

6 weeks later, no sign of recovery.

5 weeks later after several weeks of vacation, my sourdough bounced back.

I baked both at the same time.  Left: I was using a combo cooker.  Right: I was using a pizza stone with a up-side-down pan (not good at all!).

1 week later.

3 weeks later.

1 week later.

2 weeks later.

1 week later.

1 week later.

1 week later.

1 week later.

4 days later.

2 days later.

4 days later.

1 week later.

2 weeks later after Thanksgiving.

4 days later, coffee sourdough.

10 days later.

The next day, I made another for a X'mas party at a friend's.

1 week later, Dec 29, 2019, for another X'mas party at home.  This marked 2 days shy to my 1 year sourdough making anniversary.

Year 2020 - The Pandemic Began:

Before the lockdown began in Mar of 2020, I still occasionally baked sourdough.  After the lockdown, people started buying toilet papers and paper towels, I started stocking up flour from the Costco so that I could continue baking.  At the same time, I continued experimenting with my sourdough: cheese, M&M, red berries, walnuts, etc.

Jan 4, 2020 for a friend gathering event.

Jan 18, 2020.

Feb 2, 2020.

Feb 14, 2020.

Feb 17, 2020.

Feb 22, 2020.

Feb 27, 2020.

Feb 27, 2020.

Feb 29, 2020

Mar 12, 2020.  I was obsessed about the height of my sourdough during that time.  This one was close to 4" tall.

Mar 17, 2020.

Mar 24, 2020.

Apr 11, 2020.

Apr 12, 2020.

Apr 18, 2020.

Mar 5, 2020.

May 23, 2020.

Jun 21, 2020.  Re-toasted the sourdough.

Aug 3, 2020.  Started experimenting the scoring of a big ear.

Aug 15, 2020.

Aug 29, 2020.  Started experimenting higher hydration %.  Not 100% sure, but, this could be as high as 75% hydration, which might explain the big hole in the bread.

Sep 4, 2020.  Looked at the "imperfection" on the surface.  Perfect!

Oct 17, 2020.  Sourdough with cheese.  To die for!

Oct 21, 2020.  Another to die for.

Oct 30, 2020.  Halloween sourdough, ie. M&M sourdough.

Nov 29, 2020.  Red berries sourdough.  I know, after baking, red has turned black.

Dec 6, 2020.  Walnut sourdough.

Year 2021: The Pandemic Continued:

As the pandemic continued, I kept on making sourdough; however, I didn't take as much pictures as I should.  Additionally, I started making other dishes, hence, the resurrection of my photography blog.  Anyway, I made red bean sourdough, peanut butter sourdough, and started scoring my name on the sourdough, etc.

Feb 6, 2021.

Feb 20, 2021.

Aug 22, 2021.

Sep 12, 2021

Sep 24, 2021.


I started my sourdough journey back at the end of 2018, thinking less of it but later becoming more appreciative.  Ironically, consuming sourdough is also an acquiring taste as well.  I never liked the sourdough breads before due to its sourness; however, since I understood the reason and process behind that, I learned to enjoy it.

Since then, I tried different experiments and learned from my mistakes.  I also baked some and brought them to my workplace and shared them with my co-workers.  More than often, some would ask me for my sourdough starter and I was always more than happy to share some to them.  I am hoping more and more people learn to make them, and most importantly, learn to appreciate sourdough breads in more generations to come.

I understand this is a long journey; hence, the length of this blog and never ending pictures of my sourdough over the years.  If you read up to here, thank you.  If anything, the takeaway of this blog is: if I can make a sourdough bread, so can you.  If you don't believe me, please see my my first picture in this blog.

Youtube videos: