Once a mainstay of our Instagram and TikTok feeds during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, sourdough starters are returning to prominence. According to Google Trends, searches for ‘sourdough’ have seen a steady increase since the pandemic – with a 3X resurgence already happening in 2024. As the sourdough boom reemerges, King Arthur Baking Company has noticed a surge in bread flour sales.

“The rise in bread flour sales can be attributed to several factors that all overlap and weave together to create the trend we are seeing today,” says John Henry Siedlecki, vice president of brand and innovation for King Arthur. “A lot of people learned how to bake during COVID and are now putting those skills to good use as a way to escape the craziness of everyday life and the never-ending bad-news-cycle. Bread baking is not only a stress reliever, but it also gives bakers control over the ingredients they use, and, with grocery prices spiking last year, give them a little more control over their budgets with homemade bread being cheaper than buying it from a store.”

“We also see the influence of social media, with spaces like Reddit (r/breddit), Pinterest, Instagram and even King Arthur's own site and social channels featuring amazing imagery of fantastic sourdough boulles, further fueling the excitement and inspiring more bread baking. With all of these factors in play, it is no surprise that there are more sourdough starters being fed, and more bread flour being baked!”

The Bread Bakers Guild of America hosted a two-day intensive session on sourdough products and processes on April 29-30 at the King Arthur Baking School in Norwich, Vermont. In the course, attendees produced a variety of breads, while learning how build schedules, hydration, flour selection, fermentation times and temperature influence flavor profile, dough characteristics and production timelines. Being able to manipulate these and other variables is critical to the baker’s success on any scale, so the BBGA and King Arthur explored the subject in its historical context, focusing on how principles impact production in real time.

Amber Eisler is the King Arthur Baking School director. She makes some recommendations for aspiring sourdough bakers beginning their journey.

“If you are an aspiring sourdough baker, you should definitely start measuring your ingredients by weight for accuracy and consistency. Also, you should establish a sourdough care and feeding routine that easily fits your lifestyle. The needs of your starter are simple, but ongoing, and requires a bit of planning and commitment.”

She also shares how King Arthur’s products can help in that journey.

“The essential food for sourdough starter is a good quality unbleached flour - King Arthur All-Purpose or Bread flours being my top choices. We also sell fresh sourdough starter, a variety of good quality scales, and even tools that help control the temperature of your starter. The “Sourdough Savvy Collection” on our website is a great place to browse for essential sourdough tools.”