Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Food | How to make homemade sourdough bread

For the past month or so, we’ve been baking our own sourdough bread. I know, I know, what could be more middle class boho hipster? But it’s so bloody delicious I’m prepared to take the flack (as I bite into a slice of crusty toast topped with roasted butternut squash and tahini).

An aside: expect to see a bit more food content on the blog from here on in. The long version is that I’ve been working with the London Centre for Intuitive Eating to help me make sense of what has been a lifetime of disordered eating, to a greater or lesser extent. This doesn’t mean I’ve had eating disorders, more that I’ve bought into diet culture way too much and it’s taken its toll on the way I’ve approached food. If you’ve experienced similar then I thoroughly recommend having a listen to Laura Thomas’s podcast, Don’t Salt My Game, or following her on Instagram.

The short version is that I love food - it’s a huge part of my life and the source of much joy, so it makes sense for that to be reflected here.

Back to the loaf. Gartur Stitch Farm is home to lush couple Kat and Kevin who offer online and in person courses from their rural Scottish home. We ordered a sourdough starter kit from them and were duly sent a jar of Mildred – a four-year-old sourdough starter with which to begin our baking adventures, plus a banneton (bread proving bowl), scraper, razor blade, locally sourced flour plus instructions.

Our first attempt was a wee bit wobbly, which I now realise is because we didn’t use a dutch oven (cast iron casserole dish) to bake the loaf. But subsequent goes have just got better and better every time.

The process is easy.

Feed Mildred 12 hours before you want to bake, using equal quantities of flour and water.

Mix flour, starter and water together, leave in the bowl covered with a tea towel.

Add salt and give the dough a bit of love in the form of some simple stretching and folding. Leave again.

Repeat a few more times, then shape and transfer to the banneton where the loaf can rest for six hours or overnight in the fridge.

Invert, slash a pretty pattern in the top with a razor, then slide into preheated dutch oven.

Bake for half an hour with the lid on, another quarter with the lid off and this extraordinary alchemical process results in something unfeasibly close to an artisan bakery approved sourdough loaf.

Of course, we had to buy the kit, and the dutch oven, and the flour, so I doubt we’ve broken even just yet. But with the fancy bakeries charging up to a fiver a loaf, it won’t be long.

Do you bake bread? Would you try your hand at sourdough? Go on, give it a go...
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