sourdough image

Sourdough

In the last year, we have probably spent more time confined indoors than ever before. Making your own bread is an excellent way to occupy one's self in this situation. It's pretty satisfying; just the process of making it will give you tons of good feels, and then you have the pleasure of eating it, too (or giving it to people you like!).

I started making sourdough after a visit to my aunt, who makes award-winning bread. Using a sample of her starter as a basis, after a few attempts I achieved reasonable successes. The bread was not quite like the glorious loaves you can buy in artisan bakeries, but it was OK. After three years of making mediocre bread, through numerous experiments and variations on the original recipe, I had a bastardised version of my aunt's recipe that I was becoming more and more dissatisfied with. I was determined to improve the quality of my loaf, so I decided to broaden my horizons and do some research. I bought the book Super Sourdough by James Morton, a former Great British Bake Off winner; It was highly acclaimed.

The book has literally revolutionised my bread making. I began again from scratch, starting with throwing my existing sourdough starter in the bin. That was 6 months ago, and now my bread is almost indistinguishable from the professional artisan variety that you can buy in your local neighbourhood bakery. I couldn't be happier.

Sorry, there is no recipe here. I could, arguably, post James Morton's recipe with the minor modifications I've made for it, but it wouldn't be feasible for me to write down instructions for creating this bread in the format of a blog post. I would need to copy out most of the book (the recipe I've been using, for the standard rye-wheat sourdough loaf, is 33 pages long!). Even with this immensely detailed recipe, it took me 6 months to get even close to something I was really happy with. The reality is, there are so many factors affecting sourdough bread making that it's almost impossible to prescribe a method that is guaranteed to work every time. The book teaches you the fundamental principles and then guides you through the processes of autolysing, folding-and-stretching, proving, pre-shaping, shaping, scoring and, finally baking in a hot oven. It will likely take many attempts before you reach anywhere near perfection; in fact you will probably never get there, but it'll be a thoroughly enjoyable journey! So, if you want to make professional quality sourdough bread in your home kitchen, my advice would be to buy this book: It's the best bread making book I've come across yet.