Adventures with Carl the Sourdough Starter: You Can Bake Your Own Bread Without Yeast!

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Planning on baking some of your own bread? If you haven’t been able to find yeast in the store, one option you have is to bake your bread with a sourdough starter. Great Harvest Bread Company’s sourdough starter is named Carl, and they have been giving bits of Carl away free to anyone who wants to try their hand at sourdough bread baking.

Could baking with a sourdough starter be your new Coronavirus quarantine acquired skill? Yes, it could. I picked up a bit of Carl just a few days ago and after a bit of experimenting and chatting with friends more knowledgeable than I, Carl is not only still alive, he’s also made sourdough biscuits and a simple overnight sourdough bread.

Bubbling Sourdough Starter

Feeding Carl (or any sourdough starter)

It’s alive! That’s right. Carl is alive, full of beneficial bacteria that create the bubbles that make bread and tasty treats rise. I won’t get into what those bacteria are, mostly because I do not know.

In order to keep Carl alive, you have to feed him. Sitting on your counter at room temperature Carl requires to be fed his weight in flour and water every twelve hours or so. In your fridge, he only needs to be fed once a week. However, in order to work with him from the fridge, you’ll have to take him out, feed him and let him come to room temperature.

That much feeding quickly turns into using up a lot of flour. No worries. You can just throw away part of Carl, so that you only have to feed a small Carl. Sorry, Carl. Or, if you don’t plan to bake regularly, you can keep him in the fridge so you don’t have to feed so often and use up all your flour.

Baking With Carl

Carl is ready to be used in your breads and baked goods when he is bubbling heavily a few hours after a feeding. Some say he should be doubling in size after a feeding. Carl has not doubled for me, and he is still providing plenty of rise in the recipes I’ve tried. So, I’m just going with it.

Sourdough Biscuits

If you’re like me and you feel like dumping some of Carl down the drain is wasteful, you can turn the discarded portion into quick sourdough biscuits. I used this sourdough biscuit recipe. They were super easy to make, baked up fluffy and everybody loved them. Next time I’ll need a double batch.

Overnight Sourdough Bread

I made this overnight sourdough bread last night and baked it this morning. Carl successfully made the bread dough rise over night. Yay, Carl! You only need flour, water, salt and Carl to make this bread. The recipe actually requires very little from you, there’s not much in the way of kneading or mixing. You just have to have the time to let it rise, which is why making it overnight is perfect.

Cooking and Baking Local

We love that Great Harvest Bread Company is giving away pieces of Carl. Give them a call, place an order for some of their delicious bread, scones or other treats. Order some flour if you’re running low, and ask them for a bit of Carl to raise as your very own.

Find them at:
467 Woodruff Road Unit B, Greenville

When you get home, you can start your sourdough adventures with Carl. Call it science class for the kids, or a new skill for you. Plus, you’ll get to walk into your kitchen each morning and say “Hello, Carl” even if no one in your house is named Carl.

Our local shops, bakeries and farms are working hard to keep us supplied, and having a bit of fun, too. Don’t forget to shop local when you can to support these local places and help them stay in business. Here’s a list of local farms, stores and bakeries where you can shop for local produce and ingredients.

Happy baking! We’d love to see what you’re making with Carl!

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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