The Slow Life: Intro to Sourdough
The smell of freshly baked sourdough is unsurpassable. It’s heavenly. I first started to make bread in my tiny Balham kitchen, in south London, after I had a scary episode of acute pancreatitis and was admitted to hospital for emergency treatment (a week before my hen weekend and a month before my wedding no less). After that time, I felt I need to take a slower and more wholesome approach to food and my diet.
I’ve always loved to bake, but bread was a new venture - specifically sourdough, which involves a long slow fermentation process. Learning how to bake sourdough is no mean feat and truly tested my patience. However, it is a very worthwhile journey - this process of bread making offers various digestive benefits that I found particularly appealing when considering my health. For instance, sourdough is a prebiotic and actually helps to support the gut microbiome. I found a super article about the benefits of sourdough on sourdough.co.uk - far better articulated than I could ever manage.
Following a simple recipe I found on on of my favourite sourdough sites theperfectloaf.com I built the starter, the culture of naturally occurring yeasts and lactic acid bacteria, simply from organic wholewheat flour (I like Dove’s Farm or Shipton Mill flours but more on this later) and water, in September 2017. However, it took a few months before I really saw the starter take effect on the loaves - there were at least 8 or 9 loaves that barely rose!
The above photograph is a loaf I made in January 2019 - and I’m finally really happy with the loaves that get turned out each week. Sourdough baking has been as nourishing for my soul as it has been for my health. It has cultivated a patience, an appreciation for slow living and also has created calming moments in my busy life.
As pictured above, a Dutch oven (I use a Le Creuset casserole dish) turned out to be a sourdough baking essential. More on this in future posts.
Sliced walnut and rye sourdough. Absolute perfection toasted with English strawberry jam and Cornish salted butter.