A few months ago, I made a sourdough starter. I named him Fred.
Fred was a late bloomer. He was sufficiently fed and watered, kept warm and cozy in his infancy, but he failed to absorb much of the yeast he’d need to make a good bread, and his sour was never particularly strong. I refreshed him regularly, let him warm his dough in the summer sun, tried nourishing him with sugar and milk and even beer. Like the parent of any slow-developing child, I sought answers in books. Some made sourdough starting sound easy; if I couldn’t do it, I must be a fool. Others proclaimed it a daunting task, virtually impossible and best left to professionals.