About ten years ago I ate a whole loaf of fresh warm bread for lunch. I was hungry, it was fresh and irresistible. Then I got an awful stomach ache, felt sick, weak and dizzy for a few hours. This was confirmation of my nagging suspicions and the final nail in the coffin for my long and loving relationship with conventional bread and very sad I was too. It wasn’t until late last year that I began to hear that sourdough could be an alternative. I was quite reluctant to even try it, it looks a lot like any other loaf, but with encouragement from my lovely cousin I did and hey presto – no stomach aches or nausea.
In January I finally went for it, with a beautiful loaf from Bred, in Whistler Creek https://edsbred.com slathered in a thick layer of Nutella. Heavenly. I have missed that chewy texture and the sheer breadiness of it so much!
I’m still a bit nervous that other bakeries loaves might not be right for me, I gather there is some variation in how long the fermentation process is done for. So if I want to be sure of what I’m eating then I’d better make it myself. One slight problem, I never make bread and have never tried a sourdough before. I spy a challenge!
In order to go the whole hog here I decided to make the starter myself. A curious thing that comes to life with the most basic of ingredients, and no yeast.
There was a slight difficulty during the week when the instructions suggested that it all needed to be at room temperature, it was 0c outside and our heating broke down. Then it grew mould, and looked quite a lot like vomit, so I had to consult the baking goddesses of the internet to be reassured that it could be rescued (or is that retrieved?). Honestly it’s been like having another child in the house, all this attention and feeding that’s been required. Oh that’s right and for the final bake nearly a week later our main oven is not working so that leaves me with a small unreliable version. Or at least it is reliable in that it cooks everything unevenly.
The big day arrived and I had to take the plunge and make some bread. I had pretty low expectations that I would have managed this entire process successfully enough to produce a good loaf. The starter smelled good though, kind of like a nice sourdough, so I got mixing and kneading and pre warmed the unreliable oven. Two stints of proving and then in the oven while I try not to look.
Loaf number one was a little bit over done, although that gave it a lovely crunchy crust. Loaf two was essentially, I suspect, as good as its going to get unless I practice a lot more. It was delicious.
Scores? This challenge has been a daily effort for 6 days in a row so although I’m delighted with the outcome I possibly wouldn’t rush to do it again right away. You can buy the starter so maybe that’s a shortcut option. Or I can find a local bakery that makes a good one. However, for a stormy winter week this has been good fun and I’m really glad I did it. Cheap too as the ingredients are so simple.