Apparently, sourdough breadmaking is fashionable and will pass, a project for lockdown some say. Well, maybe it is, but I’m not giving it up once the pandemic is behind us and the lockdowns are lifted. I think I’ll be baking to the end of my days.
Making sourdough may be a bit of a faff and time-consuming, but with days without end at the moment, it’s an hour-gobbling pursuit that leaves you with a tasty and moreish loaf at the end. Sourdough bread is healthier than standard commercial bread, containing no additives, just water, flour and a starter – also made from water and flour. Some gluten intolerant people say they can eat sourdough without any adverse reactions because it’s additive free.
I became addicted to sourdough about four years ago when I was given as a present a one-day course at E5 Bakehouse in East London, an artisan bakery, cafe and mill, who are passionate about sourdough and the lost traditions of our baking ancestors. Using organic, locally sourced ingredients, they make delicious daily-baked breads and run bread-making courses that give you all the confidence you need to bake at home. During lockdown their courses are online and virtual, but whether virtual or real, they’re excellent, leaving you with a skill you’ll enjoy and the ability to make a loaf or two to feed the family.
If the course isn’t for you or isn’t practical, there are a host of sourdough recipes online, and many have tutorial videos that guide you through the process. It might look complicated, but really isn’t. I bake a loaf every week, alternating between a white and wholemeal loaf (70% white/30% wholemeal) and a rye loaf (see image of one baked today). Sometimes I make a spelt one. All take time and concentration, involving leavens made one or two days in advance, doughs that require folding every half an hour – up to five times – and overnight proving, but the finished products are truly magnificent and well worth the time and effort.
I finish with this quote from E5 Bakery. ‘The sour in sourdough is a by-product of the bacteria in the dough. This bacteria create organic acids as they feed on naturally occurring sugars; by controlling the time and temperature the dough is proved at, the baker determines the flavour of the bread. At the right concentration this acidity is delicious and also preserves the freshness of the bread.’
My recent publications
Life in four stories
All proceeds go to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) to help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.
Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.
By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.
My latest novel, Otto and Frankie, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.
Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit.