Sharing the love of sourdough

22 May

One of the benefits of sharing loaves during Real Bread Maker Week was that it promted the opportunity to share skills and leaven too. I spent a lovely morning with a friend mixing, shaping and baking. Later in the week, I had a chat with an experienced baker about the benefits of sourdough over commercial yeast.

With just a morning – three hours – how did I demonstrate a ten hour baking process? I wanted enough hands-on time to impart some technique. The key was preparation.

Before the morning, I organized some:

  • Some mixture to make,
  • Some dough to shape,
  • Some loaves to bake.

In true Blue Peter style, I prepared dough and loaves earlier 🙂
It was a great morning. Here is a picture of a lovely looking loaf, made later, using the skills:


Later in the week, I discussed using sourdough leaven and how it could give you more control over your baking. I think the timings are easier due to the slower nature of primary fermentation and proving. If you use your fridge, it’s even more flexible, in my opinion. Plus the flavor is much better.

With commercial yeast, the time window for putting a proved loaf in the oven is probably only about 30 minutes. For commercial bakers, this precision is excellent. For home bakers with distractions, this can spell disaster. With a sourdough starter, your time window is more like two hours. Plus, you can always put it in the fridge for an hour or a day. Oops, the school run needs to be done? No worries – fridge here we come, shape later when the kids are in bed.

Sourdough is a slow process. You can’t go from flour to bread in a couple of hours like you can with commercial yeast With time comes flexibility and flavour. If we relax a little and enjoy the time, slow tasty food is a worthwhile reward.

Here is a picture of a nice dark sourdough loaf baked with shared leaven.

Martin Udwin's loaf


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