Review: Emilie Raffa’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

Do you have fantasies of baking deep brown, beautiful sourdough breads like you see on Instagram or in the baker’s window? With this book, those fantasies can become reality.

I’ve putter51ZnUf89qiLed with sourdough baking for about three years on and off. I started with King Arthur’s starter and recipes… they were okay, but the starter didn’t hold over time and the breads weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

Then my first break came when I discovered Teresa Greenway (Northwest Sourdough) and her book on starters put me on the right track to keep a reliable starter on hand, and to really understand how starters work, and her sourdough brownies will always have a place on my counter.

But not until I bought Artisan Sourdough Made Simple on a whim did I feel like I started understanding how to make real sourdough breads. Most of it is in the process, and I had never really found that before, or at least, not in an accessible way.

Raffa’s tone is is easy and straighforward, with her goal of demystifying the process of sourdough baking guiding her instructions.  Reading the book is much like having a friend in the kitchen walking you through the process — and you find out just how easy it really is. It is joyfully, ecstatically easy!

Once you get through the basic process a time or two, you’ll be on your way. This book has done more to advance my sourdough baking in a week than any other book or website has done in years.  Within the week since I’ve bought it, I made the basic loaf, the Chocolate Chip Sourdough loaf, and the small Basket Rolls (which I made into larger burger/sandwich rolls — bake don’t buy!).

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person, so the most difficult thing for me is getting used to baking in the mornings.

Like most of us, I have a morning routine (mine is about coffee and focusing on absorbing it), so adding baking to that time of day sort of threw me and felt a bit stressful. But, after a few times of doing it, and seeing the successful products (not to mention, baking in the mornings in summer makes loads of sense), it got easier.

Also, after months of baking a lot of breads that required using my stand mixer to knead (which I still make, of course), it’s fun to make dough that I can put together with a wooden spoon and my hands and just let it set overnight, and in the morning, the process is simple —  but you do have to figure into your schedule.

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Risen dough in my mom’s antique Spongeware bowl — I love how it matches my counters! 🙂

I can’t tell you how pleased I am every single time when I wake up to find my dough risen and bubbly – ready for the oven. Many of Raffa’s recipes are done in a Dutch Oven (like the first basic loaf I made) but I find I prefer to use a peel and stone, so I am experimenting with that (my chocolate chip loaf was done that way).

The book is as generous with its recipes as it is with help and instructions… there are so many amazing concoctions in here they will keep you busy for a long time, but they also will tempt you to start making your own combinations and new fillings or creations.

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple has really opened the world of sourdough baking to me, and I hope it will for others. My profuse thanks to Emilie Raffa.

I’m looking forward to working my way through the entire volume, and I know I will end up a better sourdough baker for the journey

 

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