I’ve mentioned many times how much I love making bread: it really ignites the senses – the feel of the dough coming together, seeing the rise in the oven, and let’s not forget the amazing smell that fills the house. It’s one of my favourite things to do, but like so many people over the past few weeks, I’ve struggled to find yeast. When my friend suggested cultivating wild yeast a.k.a. making a sourdough starter, I underwent a week-long journey to try and create my first sourdough loaf.
Sourdough bread is all over the internet at the moment. It seems like the perfect activity for these long, slow days at home, requiring patience, diligence, and a little bit of luck. It also seems like there are a million different ways and techniques to activate a sourdough starter, so thank goodness I discovered the Sourdough Hotel by Bread Ahead Bakery – a fantastic London-based bakery, currently doing daily Instagram tutorials (I tried their bagels tutorial a few weeks ago). Every night, one of the Bread Ahead Bakery teachers, Kevan Roberts, does an Instagram live walking viewers through how to get started, and how to overcome common problems. I love watching these tutorials, they’re so British and quaint (there was a random bagpiper the other day!), it just feels comforting seeing people come together to make bread.
I followed the starter recipe in the Bread Ahead book, creating Sindy (it’s encouraged to name your starter) early last week. I fretted over her feeding schedule, whether she’d risen enough or not, and when she’d be ready for a good six days before I undertook the two-day process of baking the bread. Although I like to start a loaf in the morning and be eating it by lunchtime, I really enjoyed this slower way of making bread. The anticipation of my first sourdough from Sindy was high, unlike the actual loaf when I took it out of the oven…
I’m not entirely sure what happened here. I don’t have a dutch oven but I do have a baking stone (something the recipe assured me was a good substitute), however, I don’t think that was the problem. It could be a problem with Sindy’s feeding schedule, but I think I actually proved it too long in the fridge. The recipe stated 8 – 14 hours or overnight, and by the time I got round to getting it out of the fridge it was around 20 hours. Never mind, the bread tastes good, Sindy is still alive, and I am willing to try again!
If anybody has any tips I’d love to hear them – I’d really like to create a good loaf!