In a world of microwaves and right or left swipes, there are still some things worth the wait—like baking bread. Even though it takes some time, DIYing pretty bakery loafs in your own kitchen should not elicit a boredom-induced meltdown. The kitchen won’t hold you hostage from the instantaneous satisfactions of Netflix or Seamless. You don’t need to babysit bread as it rises, you just have to practice patience.
Preparing our beloved carb is an ancient act. Bread has been a component of the human diet for literally ever. While there is a menu of bread options, and making each specific loaf can take anywhere from hours to months, some things are worth the wait, like sourdough.
Marie Constantinesco of My Life in Sourdough knows a thing or two about how to make flour flourish. In her series, now filming its third season in Paris (!!!), we watch her explore life and love as it intersects with food. Baking, we see as she presents delicate homemade scones to a love interest, is an expression of love. So, in other words, the Supremes were right—you can’t hurry love. And in some cases, you have to wait anywhere from five days to one month.
All you need to start on this journey is flour and water. Two things even the barest of kitchens stock. Natural bacteria found in the air nestle into the flour-water mixture and, over time, create a garden of bubbles that smell more sour than floral. (This is a good thing here.)
Make one starter and hold onto it for years. Message boards are plastered with love stories between bakers and starters. “I’ve had mine for fifteen years, we’ve survived multiple moves,” one user gushes. If your landlord doesn’t allow pets, a sourdough starter is a fine substitute. It requires responsibility and care to keep it alive and functioning, and it won’t shed. A starter will be your kitchen companion, so give it a nice, clean corner in your refrigerator.
Some love is instant, other love needs time to rise. Here are a couple of ideas of what to make once you get your starter, well, started.
You can find Marie’s no-fail process for sourdough bread here.
Some starter tips from a sourdough novice’s kitchen: If you do not have a Dutch oven (they’re worth the investment, but very expensive), get creative. Bake the bread in a cast-iron skillet, covering the bread with a 3-inch deep spring form pan that acts as the lid to trap in moisture (important) while also providing space for the bread to rise.