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The Rise and Fall.....of what is Sourdough

It started with Toast and the green eyed monster that I carry around when I see an old traditional kitchen boasting the enviable Aga proudly installed often under inglenook beams and traditional stone walls. My grandmothers old dusty blue 4 oven cooking machine was the introduction of the best and most simplest of dishes, that can never be reproduced in an modern day machine......Toast. I always said I would one day, live in home with an Aga but have yet to make that happen, so, as a result I have searched long and hard for something that replaces or at least tries to achieve the best toast and reclaim my youth in Grandmas kitchen.

This last 18 months I have, like many, found a new love for Sough-dough bread, and realised it comes close to being almost achievable, however as any sourdough lover will tell you, the supermarket and bakeries have endless choices and finding that one that does it for you, its always a challenge. Life

With that in mind and having time on my hands, alongside friends also hit with the Sour-dough bug I started (excuse the pun) alongside what is the science behind making "The Starter" and reproducing my own loaves.

There are endless videos on U tube all with varying ideas and without doubt its smart to watch and learn and take snippets from all, but reality is, its about practice and tweaking and taking the good bits from the bits that are not so good and trying to make them mix. Having a hand on tutorial helps to install some sort of understanding of how to handle the dough, a good time to mention James as he has mastered his skills, and I might add, has my Aga in his fabulous home, (poop there she was the green eyed) and so, it starts, the purchase of the perfect glass jar, the proving basket, the cutting blade, the flour that gives you the best rise and the cost that will eventually provide you with three loaves of bread for 60p.

I am not going to give you recipes on here but will link one to my recipes page for those of interest, but I strongly recommend for those that have time and that crave that weird sense of achievement when successfully producing your first loaf, to give it a try.

The first 7 to 10 days are all about the Starter. The daily feeding like a nurtured baby bird fallen from its nest. The watching for the first sign of bubbles, "One for the money and the free rides

It's two for the lie that you denied, All rise, all rise (c'mon)" A little music and conversation will without doubt move things along quicker in my mind, so add a little to your morning salutations, Three for the calls you've been making, ( its like you can see them even if you can't) It's four all the times you've been faking, (you realise its not happening yet)

All rise, I'm gonna tell it to your face, All rise, I rest my case, and by day 7 if you have sung loud enough, its taken on a life of its own.

One morning I could see it had made some attempts under the dead of night and when I was sleeping which was a tad cheeky in my mind!

And then......this. Two hrs after a morning feed it came to life. It smells a bit too, the sign of a good Starter and also the start of a new science that is behind the varying flavours in Sour-dough breads.

My downfall in bread making is time...not because I have not had it to play with, just pure impatience on wanting results and the excuse to dive into a load of French salted butter, maybe dark brown sugar or baked camembert, so as result I have played a little with the kneading time, the waiting between folds and the last proving process, and so far its all been about the readiness of your "Starter". Once again this foundation provides times for the different taste and sourness of your loaf and for me, I am a sucker for that real Sour taste which almost contradicts everything I have just said. A longer slower rise will give you that stronger flavour and also a higher % of flour in your starter too. The higher flour content gives you a brown liquid on the top of your fermentation which I keep to add to the dough at the first flour and water mix. So to cover all bases, to accommodate my impatient mind, and get the flavour I have grown to love, I have made the dough at night, taken it to its last fold, and then left it to rise over night in the fridge. I remove it when I wake up, letting it get to room temperature and then bake it in time for lunch and fill the house with that smell no one can ignore. The fight between baking bread and coffee is real.

James, my mentor although he may not know it, has told me about beer and treacle, of which I am going to try soon. I feel that needs to be made alongside The Arctic Monkeys song Black Treacle to ensure the best outcome. "And I don't mean to rain on anybody's cabaret" but seriously it works.

Lastly I think this blog is just to try an inspire those that feel they are challenged in a kitchen to just give things a go. The rewards are fun, being inspired to push boundaries and not be worried if you fail, but to keep challenging. From the words of one of my favourite people and quite apt;


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