Last night, I took Sourdough loaf #85 out of the oven which not only marked just over a year since my Sourdough journey began, but also my 85th post since I started this blog in 2014. I thought it was high time to take the opportunity and document my experience with you. Of the 85 loaves of Sourdough bread which have emerged from my (very manual) production line, each and every time they turn out a little differently. As famously wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Sourdough baking (for me) is the polar opposite of this – I expect an identical output, but every loaf is uniquely different one way or another. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I do not think there is any other recipe I have repeated in my life more than making Sourdough bread. To be completely honest, the first few weeks of being a very novice Sourdough baker were very much ‘by the book‘- with each and every step followed to the minute. It got to the point that the regime was slightly taking over my life (then again, I started this in lockdown and had nowhere to go!).
Spoiler alert… this is a ‘long read‘. I have tried to detail all the various stages in the process, but feel free to just jump to the recipe.
Please do not get me wrong- I love it. I really do. There are some fantastic resources online written and developed by much more experienced bakers. I have experimented with timings, combination of flours, tried to reduce the time it takes from beginning to end and critically make Sourdough baking adapt around my work schedule – not the other way round. What I did find was the sheer about of time to dedicate to each loaf was quite prohibitive- so the plan was to knock off a few minutes here, a few there and be able to produce the best loaf I could in the shortest time possible. Just to be clear- shorter in the context of Sourdough does not equate to ‘rapid‘- more to the point that I managed to make the process several hours shorter and noticed negligible difference. Equally, my primary intention is to produce really tasty Sourdough bread – and not to drive Instagram likes/inflate ego.
Before you can venture into the knocking out your very first Sourdough loaf, you will first need to have mastered the art of creating and maintaining your very own Sourdough Starter. As a prerequisite, I have created a separate post just for this: Sourdough Bread Part 1: The Starter. If you have found this post first… just as a heads-up, if you do not have a starter at hand, you will need to revisit in 7 days time with your very own home-produced wild yeast in hand ;o).
What is Sourdough Bread?
I was terrible at science at school (maths too if I think of it) and I would be the least qualified person to explain in accurate scientific detail all the intricacies of wild yeast and fermentation. One of the best descriptions I can find online is:
So, to all the science boffins out there, I hope that is clear. What I find truly fascinating is this method is thought to have started in 3700 BC, and baker’s yeast is a relatively recent leavening agent only having been around for 150 years. Sourdough baking is truly old school and produces a slow-fermented bread.…