sourdough bread instagram social media influencer content creator Jenny from @JenPlusGwen in Spokane Washington United States America

Interview With Jenny From @JenPlusGwen on Instagram

At The Sourdough People, we are passionate about celebrating the artistry and innovation within the sourdough bread community. We take pride in featuring up-and-coming sourdough influencers who bring a unique blend of creativity, heart, and tenacity to their craft. This week, we are thrilled to introduce you to Jenny from @jenplusgwen on Instagram. Jenny’s journey into sourdough baking began as a quest for a personal creative outlet during a challenging period of her life. Based in Spokane Washington, she has since embraced the world of sourdough with open arms, exploring the nuances of local grains and transforming her dough into edible canvases with her whimsical and intricate bread doodles. Join us as we delve into Jenny’s sourdough journey, her approach to baking, and the joy she finds in this ancient art form.

Please tell us where you are from and what you love about where you live?

Hi! I’m Jen and my starter’s name is Gwen. I currently live in Spokane, Washington and I think one of my favorite things is how much access we have to good coffee. There are sooo many amazing coffee shops and local roasters– I’m a big fan of exploring drink menus and trying fun new flavor combinations!

Jen, what initially sparked your interest in sourdough baking, and how did you begin your journey?

Oof. This is a heavy one, but I love it! I had had a ridiculously hard year filled with some pretty intense postpartum depression, anxiety, and a whole list of undiagnosed health issues. I felt like I hadn’t really done anything outside of motherhood in years and I desperately needed to find something that could be all mine. Sourdough sounded kind of interesting but it also felt so overwhelming to start. I asked my sweet friend, Alysse, if she would be willing to make a starter with me for accountability and I’m so grateful that she said yes! I ended up diving in DEEP. I spent an entire week narrowing down the list of potential names for my starter and within that week I had already created a silly little day in the life vlog-style video of Gwen and Mr. Wallaby. After my first few bakes, I realized that scoring didn’t have to be limited to wheat stalks. From then on bread doodles and sourdough as a whole pretty much took over my life in the best way possible and became the creative outlet that I so desperately needed.

How has being based in Washington state added to your sourdough journey?

You know, I had never really put much thought into how Washington might affect my bread journey until I started chatting with Rochelle from Heartland Craft Grains. She mentioned how cool it must be to live near the Palouse and how farmers are doing a lot of cool things with grains in Eastern Washington. It opened the door to a whole new world of research and learning for me! One of my goals for this year is to start exploring and experimenting with local grains in my bakes. Who knows! Maybe I’ll even try to visit a few farms and flour mills!

How has your approach to sourdough baking evolved since you first started?

I am, and have always been, a perfectionist and hardcore rule follower. It definitely impacted my approach to baking… I used to spend absurd amounts of time trying to choose a recipe and then I would follow it with intense precision but it never quite worked out the way I had hoped. After months of not-so-great loaves I finally realized that I had to let go of strictly following every single aspect of a recipe and actually learn what my dough needed and how my home environment affected it. I’ve learned to go with the “dough flow” and am now able to wing it a bit and experiment with each bake while still getting mostly positive results. It has been quite freeing actually!

Who are some of the people, brands, or companies in the sourdough industry that have inspired you?

Oh goodness, there are so many bakers in the online sourdough community that inspire me! I’m constantly seeing new scores and recipes that I want to try!

What are your must-have tools or favorite equipment for sourdough baking, and why?

Doap: a silicone “dough-soap” designed to help you scrub stubborn sticky dough off of your hands. It’s efficient, easy to rinse clean, and I no longer have to pick a bunch of little dough boogers out of my dish scrub brush! Truly a really rad and helpful product. Rosehill Sourdough: their wood pulp proofing baskets are fantastic! They draw out just the right amount of moisture from the surface of your dough and create an awesome scoring surface. I highly recommend trying them if you enjoy doing intricate scores! Wire Monkey: the Poco lame is my favorite! I like the control that I get with my scoring lines. It gives that handheld blade feel, but without the danger of holding a bare blade.

How do you source your ingredients, and do you have any specific preferences or tips regarding flour, water, or salt?

I typically get both my base flour and my salt from Costco and I’m a huge fan of the folks and flours over at Heartland Craft Grains. I love incorporating HCG grains into my bakes to get more depth of flavor! Someday I’d like to experiment with autolysing my dough, but for now, the mix-it-all method works really well for me.

Can you share a particularly challenging experience you’ve had with sourdough baking and how you overcame it?

I found myself in a weird baking funk at the beginning of this year. There was a solid 2 weeks where none of my loaves were turning out right and I couldn’t figure out why. I took a week off from baking and when I came back to it I decided to use a recipe from my friend Katie (@amore_fermentum) and it turned out beautifully! It gave me the confidence boost I needed to get my sourdough mojo back and thankfully things have continued to go smoothly since then.

What do you enjoy most about baking sourdough, and how does it impact your daily life?

Other than always having a tasty snack readily available, I really enjoy the creative aspect of sourdough. I use my bread dough as a canvas and as far as art supplies go- flour, water, and salt is a whole lot cheaper than actual canvases and I can eat it afterward. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Have you noticed any new trends or innovations in sourdough baking recently?

I’ve noticed an increase of bakers trying out illustrative scores and it makes me so happy to see more bread doodles popping up on my social media feeds!

What are some common misconceptions about sourdough baking that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

I think a lot of people get into sourdough for the health aspect, which is awesome, but I want to remind people that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! I personally still buy sandwich bread at the grocery store every week for my kiddo’s PB&J sandwiches and I’m also not afraid to occasionally add fun “unhealthy” things to my dough like Oreos or Dr. Pepper. Please don’t stress yourself out by thinking that starting sourdough means you have to bake every single bread product that you consume from scratch. However, if that truly works for your schedule and brings you joy, bake on my friend! Each person’s bread journey is different and unique and I think that’s beautiful!

In your opinion, what is the most underrated aspect of sourdough baking?

The scoring! The possibilities are truly limitless! Wheat stalks are absolutely gorgeous and I envy anyone that has the self-control to do a single slash bake, but I looooove scoring nostalgic things from my childhood, recreating holiday coffee cup designs, and impressing my young kiddos by scoring characters from their favorite shows and movies.

Are there any books, videos, or online resources you’d recommend to those wanting to learn more about sourdough baking?

The most helpful thing for me was wiggling my way into the sourdough community on Instagram. Bread people are incredibly kind and there are so many talented bakers that are ready and willing to hype you up, help you get started, and troubleshoot any questions or problems you may be facing with your loaves or starter. It’s nice to be able to get advice from someone who is actively making a posting about their bakes and showing you the results!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with sourdough baking?

I’ve heard that you should expect at least 6 subpar loaves when you first start baking bread and I love that advice! I think a lot of people get discouraged if the first 2-3 come out weird, but sourdough often takes time to learn and perfect. I recommend picking a recipe and sticking with it. Take dough notes so you can remember what you did and didn’t like about how it turned out and then make small adjustments as needed.

How do you engage with your followers and the sourdough community on social media? What’s your style?

I like to chat pretty casually with folks on social media the way I would in person with a friend! I really try my best to show up as my authentic self online and I sincerely hope that it comes across in my interactions with my online community.

What’s your favorite sourdough recipe to bake for yourself, friends, or your loved ones?

I mostly make plain artisan loaves because they’re easiest to doodle on. It’s so fun to personalize the designs for each person. Whenever I visit my Grandma I make sure to bring her “flowers” in the form of a beautiful floral loaf of bread.

Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to manage a healthy sourdough starter culture?

I like to keep a small amount of starter ready and available at all times so I typically feed Gwen a 1:3:3 ratio at least once a day or morning and night if I’ve made dough that day. I like to mix everything in a bowl, and then transfer to a clean jar. I also rinse the jar and shake out the excess water before adding my starter. In my experience, it sort of lubricates the glass a bit and helps create less resistance during the rise. I’m not sure if this actually makes a difference, but Gwen seems to be thriving so I’m sticking to it!

Do you have any upcoming projects or plans related to sourdough baking that you’re excited about?

I have some really rad collaborations lined up this year with a couple of my favorite sourdough brands! I can’t really give much information on those yet, but I’m STOKED!!

What do you hope to contribute or be remembered for most in the sourdough community?

I really want to bring joy to the sourdough bread art community and create a space where people feel comfortable being a bit silly. I think we could all use a little more humor and whimsy in our bread making.

Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly proud or fulfilled in your sourdough baking journey?

I remember being so incredibly excited when I finally achieved my first really good loaf of bread. It took almost two months of trial and error, but I finally got that beautifully fluffy and delicious loaf that I was after. My husband and I proceeded to eat far more bread than two people should be able to consume in one sitting, but regretted nothing! It was so good!!

If you could give one piece of advice to your past self when you started sourdough baking, what would it be?

I would probably say “Jen! Please! For the sake of your sanity, DO NOT start baking with Gwen yet! I know she finally passed the float test, but she’s only 10 days old and definitely not strong enough yet!!!” or something like that haha.

Is there anything else Jen that you would like the community to know about you or things you would like the readers to potentially purchase or subscribe to?

This is the part where I admit that I’m terrible at advertising myself and my own products… but hi! Yes! I make sourdough-themed notebooks, stickers, and apparel! I think they’re pretty dang cool and I hope you do too! You can find them over at Etsy and Bonfire.

Clothing Thoughts

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Jenny for sharing her inspiring sourdough journey with us. Her passion for baking and creativity shines through in every loaf she crafts. We encourage you to follow her delightful sourdough adventures on Instagram at @jenplusgwen. For more stories like Jenny’s and to stay connected with the sourdough community, follow The Sourdough People at on Instagram, join our email newsletter, and consider using our intake form to send us your unique or interesting sourdough stories.

Together, let’s continue to celebrate the art and heart of sourdough baking!

1 thought on “Interview With Jenny From @JenPlusGwen on Instagram”

  1. Jen is the best!! So happy to read this article about a very genuine person and extremely talented artist. Rock on Jen!

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