This Mama Kneads Sourdough


It was my turn to pick for book club and the message was clear. We could all use something uplifting as the weight of 2020 surmounted.

“Sourdough” it was, by Robin Sloan. I’ve always said I’d rather bake than cook. I’ve also always preferred to eat dessert over dinner. Doesn’t everyone?

The book was great – a fun read and one that definitely lightened the mood of a hard year. But what spawned from this pick was much more than I could have imagined. I now yearned to bake bread. Not just bread. Sourdough.

In all honesty, these hands had made cakes and cookies, shortbread, meringue, muffins, desserts. . . But sourdough? What even IS sourdough?

A few years ago at the Grow N Grower’s Farmer’s Market early one Saturday morning, I recall visiting “the sourdough guy” and seeing the pride in his eyes as he offered a sample of his bread and explained his process. If only I knew then what I know now I may have stuck around awhile and bought his whole stash. Or swapped recipes and talked technique and ingredients.

Now I’ve found myself with a perpetual starter we named “Frederique” and all he does best is grow… so we bake.

Lessons in Sourdough: Patience

If there is one thing making sourdough has taught me, AND my kids, it’s patience. Want some bread? Ok. You can have a loaf tomorrow if you start today. But don’t start it at the wrong time of you’ll be baking past your bedtime, or waking much earlier than your body intended.

The art of timing has become a test of patience.

“Mama, where’s the sourdough?”

“Gone. Eaten.”

“And the other loaves? Didn’t you bake 4 of them?”

“Yes. All gone. One to share and three to indulge, remember? They’ve all been consumed. But if we start now, we can have a new set of loaves by around this time tomorrow!”

Can’t wait? Go to your corner store and buy some bread. But don’t expect it to taste as good as a homemade loaf of sourdough.

Lessons in Sourdough: Preparation & Perseverance

Didn’t the adults in our childhood preach that anything worthwhile takes work and we shouldn’t expect it to come easy? I’m sure I’ve worked this in to a lesson or two to my own kids over the past decade.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… ”

I’m not sure about the pain, definitely agree with the difficulty, and most certainly know that the effort is great and well worth it.

Make the sourdough. Reap the rewards. Take the time to prepare and persevere until that bread is knock-worthy.

Lessons in Sourdough: Keep it Simple

Flour, water and salt. That’s it. No more, no less.

These three simple ingredients have so much potential when they’re treated well, guided by your hands, given form and life by you. There is no need for fluff and extras to make a good loaf, just three key elements.

This reminds me to focus on what is important. Keep it simple. Cut out the extra when you can, because chances are you may not need it and it might be distracting you from the best part.

Lessons in Sourdough: Share

There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing something that you care about. Work on a loaf for over twenty-four hours. Wrap it up. Give it away. Repeat. Find the things in your life that make you happy and then share them with others.

It’s love in a loaf, and it’s a love worth passing on.

Sometimes, like this mama, you just knead to make the sourdough.

Ready, Set, Bake

If you’d like to take the plunge, consider the Tartine method like this video here or the recipe book here. I also love the starter found in the Panera Break Cookbook here.

If you have more time to learn technique and see artisan sourdough in action, I absolutely loved Proof Bread as well and highly recommend this video.

These loafs make excellent French toast since they don’t get soggy and are a good pair with a hot bowl of soup like Jen’s Cheese Chicken Enchilada soup.

Then share your bread with us @thergvmoms on Instagram. We’d love to see what you create.

Tartine Bread


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here