Hello dear friends. How is everyone holding up in this fucked up world we are existing in? Drinking too much? Eating too much? Watching too much Netflix? MAKING SOURDOUGH?? Me too!
I can’t explain why I had the urge, like millions of others, to start growing my own little yeasty boy. The trends of the pandemic cannot be explained, but the internet has told me we’re all making sourdough and rewatching Twilight. Which, truly, cool.
I’m not a bread expert. In fact, I almost failed home ec in high school but my teacher passed me because ‘at least it seemed like she was having a good time.’ (Should probably be the title of my memoirs.) But, surprisingly, I’ve had a few people ask me for tips. And all I can say – if I can do it – LITERALLY anyone can. But I thought I would point you in the direction of recipes and bakers who helped me along the way.
I will admit, when it comes to sourdough starters, I didn’t have to start from scratch. I bought my partner, Greg, a sourdough starter kit for Christmas. We gave it a half-hearted go, made a couple of lame loaves, and then dear Connor (yes, you have to name your starter – that is rule #1) sat in the fridge for a couple of months. But let me tell you, Connor is BACK, BABAY and he is THRIVING.
But if you are starting from scratch, I found this twitter thread from this year’s Great British Bake Off Winner, David Atherton, which is a great daily step-by-step. Oh sorry, my North American family back home… you guys call it the Great British Baking Show for some unknown reason. You can peep the twitter thread here.
Is your starter baby thriving? Well, it is TIME TO BAKE! Or at least, put ingredients in a bowl… and wait… then knead it a bit… and then wait. I think this is one of the reasons why we have become so obsessed with sourdough. We are learning a new way to provide for our household when things are uncertain – and there is no better way to provide than in a delicious, carby fashion. And – WE HAVE TIME! We have time to mix and knead and wait and perfect recipes like we never had before. And although I am dying to sit back and waste a day on the patio of my favourite pub, there is something quite beautiful in all of this slow cooking and baking.
This is the recipe that has worked best for me. I had to try a couple of different ones to get there. It’s from a blog called Foodbod Sourdough… as the name alludes, she really knows her sourdough stuff. Outside of this recipe, her blog has a lot of tips of the trade. I’ve used this process with both white bread flour and wholemeal bread flour and had good results! But depending on your oven/climate in your house or apartment for proving, there may be another recipe or technique that works better for you.
You don’t need all that fucking fancy equipment and utensils.
I mean, we are coming into this in lockdown. Regular stores aren’t open, people don’t have their regular income – you don’t need to be buying fancy scrappers or banneton bowls to shape your loaves. (You can if you want to – but not necessary!)
My loaves sit and prove in regular, cheap pyrex dishes I’ve had forever. I do use a dutch oven (Holler to Sainsbury’s brand which is 90% cheaper than those wonderful Le Creuset ones.) But if you don’t have one, you should be able to put your loaf on a regular baking sheet, with a roasting pan of water on the rack below to keep the loaf moist (I’m sorry I used that word… I couldn’t think of anything better. Wet? Supple? Nope.)
How the hell do I get flour?
Great question, the baking aisle of grocery stores are constantly gutted. I’ve had luck finding flour from independent flour mills online, as well as local farm shops. The latter forced me to give spelt flour a-go – which was a nice change! But I would not order through eBay or Amazon, the prices are extortionate and the brands advertised are not always the brands you will receive. Support your small, local guys if you can!
Should you be eating all this bread??
Friends who know me, are like, Deanne – are you gluten intolerant?? The answer is I DON’T KNOW. But what I do know is that I struggled for years if I ate processed bread, especially in my North American homeland. However, I have found while living in the UK and travelling in Europe, I’ve been having fewer issues. And making bread at home with no preservatives has left me with zero digestional issues — or the fun acne side effect I used to get. So essentially, using myself as a human science experiment I’ve come to the conclusion that: processed food will fuck you up!
(***This is not advice my celiac friends should follow, but if you are just a gluten/wheat sensi like me, it may be worth a test for you.)
Whew, what a long-winded ride that was. Hope it helped any of you who are hoping to start your Sourdough journey. If you have any questions, Connor and me are more than happy to *try* and **answer (**Google) them And hey, if it all goes tits up, at least make it seem like you’re having a good time.