This is the first in a multi-part series on how I make my bread.
The main think I have learned is that bread making is more of an art and a skill than a recipe. I started out with a recipe and a guide book, but ended up learning far more than is possible through a book. It simply takes practice and experience to make good bread.
My starting point was Mike Avery’s 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread. His book on bread (sold for $5 from his site) provides excellent guidelines for caring for your starter. In his book he says that you should pick a bread you want to make and keep trying until you get it. Don’t just flit from recipe to recipe looking for the ultimate bread. You will never find it. Work with a recipe until you understand it and can use it to make good bread. This is great bread-making wisdom.
My bread making philosophy is, as always, based on what healthy traditional societies did. The Standard American Diet (SAD) obviously does not work, therefore it is wise to look back at what our ancestors did. Weston Price did just that in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Sally Fallon extended his research using the same philosophy in Nourishing Traditions. Healthy traditional societies used unrefined (i.e. whole grain) flour and natural wild leavening to make bread. That’s why my bread is whole grain and leavened with my own wild caught sourdough culture.