A basic sourdough bread requires very little: An active sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt. From this basic formula, many recipes can be derived, but in effect, we are looking at three ingredients (the starter is flour and water, so yes, three.)
It takes about two weeks of “feeding” the starter daily to get it to become active enough to raise an entire bread, but you can use it earlier to make things like pancakes, scones, etc. It takes a couple to several months for the starter to mature further (loose estimate as this subject is still under debate.)
For me, the novelty never wears off. Each loaf is a “fresh” experience. I am amazed anew at each “real” bread that comes out of my oven, I marvel at my sandwich as I’m eating it. I don’t know of too many endeavours more satisfying than baking bread at home, and baking sourdough bread is definitely at the top of my food pyramid!
The bread below is based on the “Basic Sourdough Bread” recipe from page 444 of Rose Levy Barenbaum’s “The Bread Bible.” The timeline of the recipe did not make sense to me and I am still tweaking it, but the bread rocks!