The Great Sourdough Challenge

How Simple Bread is Saving My Family Some Dough

By Jessica Elwell, Publisher - Macaroni KID Grants Pass March 4, 2024

Last December, I found myself strolling around the Douglas County Fairgrounds, soaking in all the festive delights of the Christmas Craft Fair. Among the booths of vendors selling crafts and decor was the sweetest woman selling baked goods and sourdough starters. I had never tried my hand at sourdough and I had no clue what I was getting into, but it seemed like a fun adventure for the new year.

After hours on Pinterest and even more hours on YouTube, I learned that a critical component of the sourdough culture is naming your starter. After much deliberation, I decided to name her, 'Olivia Gluten-John', and that marked the start of a beautiful and tasty friendship. 

Now, I wasn’t exactly a bread-making pro at this point. In fact, I had never even used a kitchen scale. But fueled by my husband’s love for sourdough, I dove into this culinary adventure headfirst. In the first few weeks, there were a few mishaps and close calls. But with some persistence and a whole lot of trial and error, Olivia and I got the hang of it. Soon enough, our home was filled with the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread.

What started as a simple experiment quickly turned into a full-scale challenge. I decided to see if I could go a year without buying bread from the store. My hope was to cut our grocery budget a bit and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Soon, each batch of dough became a blank canvas for culinary creativity. From sandwich loaves to crispy pizza crusts, sourdough became the star of our weekly meals. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about making bread from scratch.

What started as an effort to save some money and stretch our grocery dollars turned into something so much more. There was a profound sense of fulfillment that came with the process. Friday nights turned into dough-kneading sessions, and Saturday mornings were all about pulling golden, crusty loaves out of the oven. Sourdough baking became therapeutic, a calming ritual in the midst of life’s chaos. With flour on my hands and anticipation in my heart, I found comfort in the simple act of making bread.

To anyone thinking about diving into the world of sourdough, go for it! If I can do it, so can you. And if you ever need a cheerleader, you’ll find me on the sidelines, covered in flour and rooting for you. So here’s to happy baking, my fellow bread enthusiasts. May your loaves rise high and your kitchens smell heavenly.