Some Sourdough Resources
There are many good resources that can help you with your Sourdough baking. And depending on what you need, different sections might be helpful.
If you have favorite resources you'd like to share with us, just drop me a note through the "Contact Us" page.
Many of them are out of print. As a service to those who might want to find them, I have provided links to isbn.nu. isbn.nu does what half.com used to do, it looks around and finds the best price it can on books for you. They don't sell books, they just help you find them. Since I have no control over who they show or who you buy from, I can't guarantee your transactions, but I've had good results with all the vendors to which isbn.nu has connected me.
"An Introduction to Sourdough" by Mike Avery. Is it hopelessly self-serving to include the sourdough book I wrote here? As the first book in the list? Probably. Oh well. I feel that it is a very good introduction to sourdough baking, and that many readers have benefited from it. A sample is available at no cost on our downloads page, and you can order it at Mike's Bread Shoppe.
"Bread Science" by Emily Buehler. A wonderful book!
"The Taste Of Bread" by Professor Raymond Calvel. A classic, wonderful, foundational bread.
"Beard On Bread" by James Beard . A wonderful reference.
"The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook" by Pasquale Bruno, Jr. Not a sourdough resource, but a great pizza cookbook.
"Bread Alone" by Daniel Leader A decent book, a classic, worth space on your bookshelf.
"Flavored Breads - Recipes from Mark Miller's Coyote Café" by Mark Miller and Andrew Maclaughlin A very good book on flavored breads.
"Great Whole Grain Breads" by Beatrice Ojakangas. This was, for many years, THE reference book for whole grain breads and baking. Very highly recommended!
"The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart is a very beautiful book, but unlike most beautiful bread books, there's a lot of substance here.
"Secrets of a Jewish Baker" by George Greenstein. Lots of information about his life in a Jewish bakery, lots of hard to find recipes.
"The Bread Builders" by Allan Scott and Dan Wing. This is not a recipe book, this book explains how baking, sourdough, and masonry ovens work at a level untouched by any other book.
"Build Your Own Earth Oven" By Kiko Denzer Many people would love to build a masonry oven, but find that it is too time consuming, too expensive or requires skills they neither have nor can afford to hire. This book has good answers those issues.
"The Complete Sourdough Cookbook" by Don and Myrtle Holm. Lots of good historical information, lots of good folklore, a fun read, but not a terribly good sourdough cookbook.
"The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" by Laurel Robertson. A very good bread book.
"The Village Baker" by Joe Ortiz. Many people think this is THE book on baking. It has gorgeous pictures, and is a veritable love affair with bread. Despite this....
"World Sourdoughs From Antiquity" by Dr. Ed Wood. A wonderful work on sourdoughs. He sets the standards on how to handle cultures.
"Sourdough Cookery" by Rita Davenport. The biographic information about Rita Davenport tells us she is a home economist and a time management expert.
There is no substitute for a hands-on class when you are learning to bake. Words won't convey what dough should feel like, what the difference between a firm and a slack dough is. Words won't tell you how to tell when you're done kneading. Touching an instructor's dough, or having the instructor touch your dough and make suggestions clarifies a lot.
With the growth of interest in baking, there has been an increasing number of classes in baking in general, as well as in bread and sourdough baking. Start by looking in your area - many areas have local colleges that have classes in their extension department. Many food and foodie stores offer classes. There are also specialty schools that offer only baking classes.
All that said, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how baking classes are handled. Many schools are online only these days, some are mixed, and some are still live an in person. Check the links below for how different schools are operating in the pandemic.
If you are in North Central Texas, also called the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I teach several sourdough baking courses from time to time. The classes are all around 1/2 to 1 day long, usually on Saturdays, and cost $75 for most classes. We have class descriptions and pictures in the BakeWIthMike section of this web page. I am also willing to travel to your location to teach classes there. At this time, all our classes are offered via Zoom.
Here are a number of other classes -
Central Milling Company in Petaluma, CA is known for the quality of their flours and the classes they offer through their Artisan Baking Center. We've flown from Texas to California for one of their classes and it was worth the trip! Great facility, great teachers!
The San Francisco Baking Institute has been training bakers for decades. They have been the school where the Bread Baker's Guild of America team trains for the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. We've taken a class there and recommend SFBI highly.
Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan has gotten a lot of rave reviews both as a bakery and a school.
Check out their web pages for more information.
If you've taken a great baking class and would like to share it with others, drop me a note through the "Contact Us" page and we'll add it here!
Of course, the Internet has a remarkable amount of information. A search at Google will drown you in information. Still, here are some good sources of information. Please remember that the web is constantly changing and yesterday's great resource is today's 404. Please use the "contact us" page and let us know if any of the sites we are linked to are gone, or if you have found a great new site.
Blogs: I used to be pretty negative on blogs, but I keep finding more and more interesting blogs. I don't agree with all of them, but that's to be expected. I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!
MC's "Farine" is an amazing blog where MC visits bakers, bakeries, mills - reporting on all of them. She takes lots of classes and reports on them as well. She is an inspiration! The blog is at once inspirational, aspirational, educational and a total joy! I don't visit the blog nearly often enough!
Jeremy Shapiro's Stir The Pots blog is beautiful and an inspiration. It covers food, baking and the life of a very talented chef. The blog is a diary of things Jeremy is working on. As a chef in a busy New York City restaurant and a fanatical baker, that covers a lot of territory. Stir the Pots is beautiful and inspiring. However, if you're looking for a recipe, this isn't the best place to go. You will see great dishes and great loaves. Many times, I've used Stir the Pots as an inspiration and then my favorite search engine, to find sources of information to move me further on my quest of the week. Jeremy is also well worth following on Facebook.
Crafty Baking (formerly Baking911) is a very good general baking site, covering just about any baking topic you can think of, not just breads. I feel our sourdough information is more solid, but that's the difference in going to a specialist site, like ours, instead of a more general site. For general information, baking911.com is excellent. A great starting point for many kinds of baking information, and for a lot of things the only place you need to go.
Wildfermentation.com is a fascinating exploration of all sorts of fermented foods. Many of the foods we enjoy are fermented in one way or another, and this web site's creator, Sandor Ellix Katz, aka Sandorkraut, seems to revel in all of them. A wonderful resource for people wanting more information about fermented foods.
http://samartha.net/SD/index Samartha's home page has a wealth of information about sourdough, rye breads, and real pumpernickel. Well worth a visit!
http://carlsfriends.net/ The home of Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough starter - available for the cost of a stamped, self addressed envelope. A marvelous starter, a marvelous price.
http://www.sourdo.com The Sourdough's International home page, Dr. Ed Wood's company. Some good information, and a place to buy some very good starters.
http://www.sfbi.com The San Francisco Baking Institute. They offer classes, support, and sell baking supplies at very reasonable prices - and their newsletters are free and exceptionally good learning tools. Download them all!
http://www.kingarthurflour.com King Arthur Flour's home page - a good source of flour, supplies, and information. They sell by mail order.
Honeyville Farms has a great selection of grains, flours and more. Not only will they ship to you, shipping is a flat $4.99 per order. Sometimes I've found other vendors to be less expensive - until I considered the cost of shipping. And, yeah, shipping counts! It's the cost to the door that really matters!
Mailing lists are one of the oldest forms of communication on the Internet. I suspect that about an hour after email was invented, mailing lists followed along. Mailing lists allow people to send emails to all the subscribers on the list. Most mailing lists only allow members to send messages, which greatly reduces spam.
Many mailing lists send each message out as the server receives it. Others save the messages and send them out as a digest. Some digests are daily, others are weekly. Others are daily or weekly, unless there's too much mail.
At this time, I can recommend three mailing lists. One is a mailing list I host, "Mike's (More or less) Weekly Baking Tips". As the title suggests, once a week (more or less), I send out a baking tip. I also put in plugs for my cookbooks and classes. However, I like to think each issue has lots of good baking advice, and is well worth the asking price. If you are interested, just go to our subscription page and fill out the form. And, oh, yeah, the asking price? It's free.
Another excellent mailing list is The Bread Baker's Digest. It's a nice list, only available as a digest. The moderators, Regina and Jeffrey Dwork, do an excellent job of keeping discussions civil and on-topic. However, it is a once a week mailing list, so communications take a while. To sign up, surf over to The Bread Baker's Digest web site and sign up.
The next mailing list is an amazing resource to the professional or serious amateur artisan baker. It has helped me more often than I can count, and the people there are just amazing. To use this mailing list, you have to be a member of the Bread Baker's Guild of America, which is a bit pricey if you aren't all that serious. Still, for more information, surf over to the BBGA web site.
News groups are similar to mailing lists, they are distributed around the world, and people who share interested meet on them to discuss what matters to them. Sadly, news groups, like mailing lists, attract strange people and spammers, so not all the news you see will be to your liking. Worse, there are people there who are totally unfamiliar with the concept of civility, so arguments are frequent, frequently long, and all too unpleasant. Still, it's worth looking into.
Ask your ISP about accessing their news server, or go to Google Groups.
I used to be a regular in alt.bread.recipes, rec.food.baking, and rec.food.sourdough, but have been too busy to go there for a while.