Welcome to the latest interview feature on The Sourdough People, where we delve into the fascinating world of sourdough baking and the passionate individuals who make it all happen. Today, we are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Samantha, a renowned sourdough enthusiast and the creative mind behind the inspiring Instagram account @Healing.Slice. Samantha has graciously taken the time to share her insights, experiences, and beloved sourdough recipes with us. Her journey and tips are not only enlightening but also a testament to the art and science of sourdough baking. We invite you to follow her journey on Instagram for more delightful sourdough content and inspiration.
Samantha, what initially sparked your interest in sourdough baking, and how did you begin your journey?
More than six years have passed since the beginning of this story now that I think about it! The catalyst was my mother-in-law’s visits from Belarus, where she effortlessly made sourdough starters in our kitchen. She always treated us to freshly baked bread, ensuring the pantry was stocked with the necessary ingredients. While I observed her with admiration, it wasn’t until 2018, prompted by a health scare, that I fully committed to embarking on my own sourdough journey. That pivotal year marked the beginning of my embrace of a more natural lifestyle, with sourdough bread playing a significant role in my healing process.
How has your approach to sourdough baking evolved since you first started?
In the beginning, my approach was tentative, and I followed my mother-in-law’s guidance closely. As I continued on this baking journey, I started experimenting with different flour blends, hydration levels, and fermentation times to understand how they affected the final product. I became more attuned to the nuances of the sourdough process, learning to read the dough and adjust variables accordingly.
Over time, I honed my techniques and developed a deeper understanding of the science behind sourdough fermentation. I became more confident in troubleshooting issues like inconsistent rise or achieving the desired crust and crumb texture. Ultimately, my approach evolved from a novice following a recipe to a more intuitive and experimental baker and now a recipe developer myself.
Do you have a signature sourdough recipe or technique you’re particularly proud of? Can you share a bit about it?
My standout creation on my website would undoubtedly be the ‘Simple Sourdough Recipe.‘ It reflects the method I initially learned, employing a straightforward mix-it-all approach. Unlike more intricate recipes, this one eliminates steps like autolyse and delayed salt addition, making it exceptionally beginner-friendly. The process involves hand-mixing the ingredients, incorporating a few stretch and folds, allowing it to rest in the fridge overnight, and baking the next day. This fail-proof method serves as an excellent starting point for beginners, offering simplicity without intimidation.
Who are some of the people, brands, or companies in the sourdough industry that have inspired you?
It has been such an honor to connect with many people and companies in the sourdough community!
Some of my favorites: @Sourdough_explained, @breadstalker_, @barlowandcowoodworks, @amore_fermentum, @sourdoughbyeni, @theclevercarrot, and much more ! I’ve connected with some of these lovely people and have brainstormed/troubleshooted with them. It has been so nice to have some sourdough lifelines and truly inspire each other.
What are your must-have tools or favorite equipment for sourdough baking, and why?
This is my absolute go-to list on what I believe helps to have on any sourdough baking journey:
- Dutch oven or cast iron with lid (makes for a perfect baking vessel for your bread)
- A solid, large mixing bowl (a good go-to mixing bowl is a must)
- Bench scraper and a silicone scraper (helps immensely with shaping, kneading dough, cutting dough, etc.)
- Bread lame (for scoring)
- Food scale (this is necessary for accuracy)
- Banneton proofing baskets (very helpful to let your dough rest in)
- I also swear by my weck jars for my starter and sourdough discard. I love having a small silicone spatula on hand for mixing. This is a game changer when feeding your starter.
How do you source your ingredients, and do you have any specific preferences or tips regarding flour, water, or salt?
I use either King Arthur or Central Milling flour. A strong flour is going to help your sourdough game, I recommend checking the protein content on your flour, I usually go for 11.7% or higher. Always use filtered water. Tap water can sometimes have chemicals that disrupt a sourdough starter. As far as salt goes I go back and forth with a pink himalyan salt or fine sea salt that is sustainably sourced.
Can you share a particularly challenging experience you’ve had with sourdough baking and how you overcame it?
I have an article on my website titled “How to achieve a well structured sourdough crumb,” where I candidly share my personal struggles with sourdough and offer insights, accompanied by my own images, to assist fellow enthusiasts on their baking journey. For a considerable period, I grappled with producing flat, pancake-like loaves without a clear understanding of the issue. This phase served as a profound learning experience, emphasizing the critical role temperature plays in sourdough baking. Unbeknownst to me, I was proofing my dough at a high temperature of nearly 80 degrees for up to 8 hours, resulting in severe overproofing. Through dedicated research and a series of trial and error, I successfully navigated this challenge, emerging with a wealth of knowledge and a better understanding of optimal proofing times. This experience not only rectified my baking woes but also enriched my expertise in the art of sourdough.
What do you enjoy most about baking sourdough, and how does it impact your daily life?
Sourdough brings me immense joy, and what I find most remarkable is its influence on every facet of my life. Its natural, unhurried, and deliberate pace imparts a sense of reward and healing that transcends the realm of baking. It is amazing what a simple sourdough starter can create. This journey with sourdough has become a transformative force, guiding me towards a more natural, low-tox lifestyle, and fostering an overall sense of well-being. Its impact extends far beyond the kitchen, shaping my life into a healthier, more intentional existence.
How do you balance tradition and innovation in your sourdough baking practices?
Drawing inspiration from time-honored techniques, I still keep my practices in the fundamentals that have been passed down to me. The foundational aspects, such as the fermentation process, the use of natural levain, and the art of shaping, are deeply rooted in tradition. However, I also embrace innovation to enhance and personalize my approach. There is always room to grow and learn in the sourdough community while still adhering to those traditional roots.
Have you noticed any new trends or innovations in sourdough baking recently?
The aspect that captivates me the most is undoubtedly scoring. The possibilities and intricacies of bread art that can be achieved through scoring never cease to amaze me. While I personally adhere to the simplicity of traditional scoring techniques, I hold a deep appreciation for the artistry involved in more complex designs.
What are some common misconceptions about sourdough baking that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?
That it is impossible and time consuming. That is why I strive to create recipes that have methods that work for all schedules and baking levels. The sourdough realm may appear intimidating initially, but once you take that first step, a world of possibilities unfolds. Navigating a hectic life as a full-time mother, soon to welcome another addition, emphasizes that If I can integrate sourdough in my routine, anyone can. The key lies in adopting a practical approach. Establish an ideal baking schedule that aligns with your lifestyle and start with small steps. Sourdough should fit into your life, not the other way around!
In your opinion, what is the most underrated aspect of sourdough baking?
In my opinion, the most underrated aspect of sourdough baking is the role of patience. Amidst discussions of starters, scoring, crumbs, hydration levels, and shaping techniques, the importance of allowing the dough to ferment at its own unhurried pace often takes a back seat. Patience is the quiet force that transforms a mediocre loaf into an exceptional one.
Are there any books, videos, or online resources you’d recommend to those wanting to learn more about sourdough baking?
While the instagram sourdough community is a plethora of knowledge here are 2 excellent reads to have on hand for the science behind sourdough:
- Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
- Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish
What advice would you give to someone just starting out with sourdough baking?
Find a schedule and routine that works best for your lifestyle, start small, and ask for help! The sourdough community is amazing and always willing to help. A bit reminiscent of what I said before, but having patience is key when it comes to sourdough. You have to be okay with failing and trying again. Progress not perfection.
How do you engage with your followers and the sourdough community on social media? What’s your style?
I absolutely love creating and sharing reels, posts, and stories that revolve around my sourdough recipes, as well as tips and tricks. Engaging on a broader platform allows me to not only share my insights but also connect with others through personal messages. I find joy in assisting fellow sourdough enthusiasts with their questions or concerns. In terms of style, I lean towards a straightforward approach, acknowledging the possibility of errors and embracing the learning process. My goal is to inspire others to venture into new territories and try something innovative in their sourdough journey.
Have you participated in any collaborations or community events related to sourdough baking, and what was your experience?
I have not, but I would absolutely love to do this one day!
What’s your favorite sourdough recipe to bake for yourself, friends, or your loved ones?
My absolute favorite has to be my recipe for sourdough cinnamon rolls! I dedicated over a year to perfecting this recipe, utilizing a sweet stiff sourdough starter (this is a game changer). Once you try these rolls, there’s simply no turning back. The impeccable texture and flavor make them such a delight. We’ve established a cherished tradition of indulging in cinnamon rolls for every holiday, and my family can’t get enough. Its something they always look forward to and it just warms my heart! This year, I used the same dough to craft breathtaking cinnamon swirl bread Christmas wreaths which you can find on my website. It’s genuinely an extraordinary recipe!
Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to manage a healthy sourdough starter culture?
I do! I actually just made a post on this the other week.
- Consistent feeding: Regular and consistent feeds is crucial. Feed your starter with equal parts water and flour at the same time each day. This maintains a healthy population of yeast and bacteria.
- Maintain the right environment: keep your starter in a warm and stable environment ideally around 70-75 degrees F. This temperature range is optimal for fermentation.
- Use high-quality flour: Use good quality unbleached flour. Whole wheat or rye flours can also be added to boost the starter’s microbial diversity.
Do you have any upcoming projects or plans related to sourdough baking that you’re excited about?
Yes! I am constantly crafting, optimizing, and experimenting with my recipes and adding them to the website. Always be on the lookout for those. I’m also always working diligently on making my website even better, adding a newsletter, subscriptions, and possibly even one-to-one coaching opportunities with me! There is much more to come and evolve from healingslice.com.
What do you hope to contribute or be remembered for most in the sourdough community?
I hope to be remembered for making the art of sourdough baking approachable and enjoyable for everyone. My goal is to contribute simple and effective techniques that inspire others to embark on their own fulfilling sourdough journeys where they can gain confidence! I truly have a lot of enthusiasm for the sourdough craft and my goal is to spread that.
Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly proud or fulfilled in your sourdough baking journey?
There have been numerous rewarding experiences, and I genuinely enjoy assisting others on their sourdough journeys — that’s incredibly impactful to me. However, the most fulfilling aspect is teaching and inspiring my own children. Passing down this craft to them is indescribable, and witnessing their enthusiasm to join me in the kitchen brings me so much joy.
If you could give one piece of advice to your past self when you started sourdough baking, what would it be?
Keep it simple and be patient. Embrace the learning process and don’t be afraid to make mistakes—they’re a crucial part of improving. Enjoy the journey and savor each step.
Is there anything else Samantha that you would like the community to know about you or things you would like the readers to potentially purchase or subscribe to?
Check out healingslice.com for all recipes, tips, tricks, and more on sourdough! You will also find additional healing, anti-inflammatory recipes on there so be sure to check them out and see if you find anything that inspires you! Following me on instagram: @healing.slice will ensure you are up to date on everything I am working on and offering. Definitely be on the look out for exciting things to come! Wishing you all happy healing!
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Samantha for participating in this interview and sharing her valuable experiences and tips with the sourdough community. Her passion and dedication to the craft of sourdough baking are truly inspiring. We hope you, our readers, have enjoyed learning about Samantha’s journey as much as we have. Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram above for more amazing sourdough adventures and insights. We also invite you to stay connected with us at @sourdoughbread.ca on Instagram, subscribe to our email newsletter for the latest updates, and use our intake form to send us your own sourdough stories or ideas that you’d like to see featured on our website.
Happy baking and thank you for being a part of our sourdough community!