The Beginning

Hi, I'm Anne; new to two things - sourdough and blogging! Actually, that's not quite true. I did have a dalliance with sourdough about a year ago, but my attempts didn't work out too well and I decided to concentrate on improving my skills with yeast-based loaves. I have a full-time job and a three-year-old daughter, and finding the time to bake my own bread was difficult. But then I realised that it was of such vital importance to me to be feeding my family good, wholesome bread rather than processed rubbish that I just had to find the time. I created my own sourdough starter on 7 January, and have so far managed to keep it alive (albeit I've just used it in a loaf today and it smells a bit too sour - we'll see!). I have used it to create pure sourdough loaves and also to enhance the flavour of yeast loaves too, with varying degrees of success. My aim for this year is to get in lots and lots of practice; to always have fresh bread available; to expand my repertoire and to see a distinct improvement over the next 12 months. My dream, however, is to start a community bakery. I would love to bake for a living and also teach people in my local community how to bake their own bread too. I've joined the Real Bread Campaign  http://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/ and am hunting out other kindred spirits, so I was delighted to end up here! Hints, tips, advice, criticism all gratefully received!

8 comments

Hello Anne

 

Welcome to the forum.  Here is a good place to learn about sourdough bread.  There a few of us UK based bakers around and a fair few here and on other forums who are involved with community baking initiatives.  What part of the UK are you based in?

 

 

Hello Anne - I started making sourdough bread last year and got completely hooked. This year I mean to build on what I have learned and become more skilled. But I am long since retired and am recovering from surgery so I must go slowly. All the very best. I'll be following your blog eagerly! 

 Thanks for the warm welcome! I'm based in central Scotland, just outside Glasgow. I'd appreciate pointers to other forums/community bakers and hope I can visit some soon to get some tips. 

Hello Anne

 

The other baking forum that I visit regularly is The Fresh Loaf.  Look out for UK based bakers there such as lumos and ananda (as well as myself).

Anne - another good site, purely sourdough (unlike The Fresh Loaf), is www.northwestsourdough.com. Teresa also contributes on this site occasionally.

Hi Anne,

 I took the step to register with Sourdough Companion on the strength of your "Trial and Error." comment.  It would appear we are both from the same area, coincidence or what. Like yourself i would love to get involved in community baking initiatives.  

 

After reading an article on sourdough last May I attempted to make my own starter from water and flour only.  I had great success  with the starter  and  just used all sorts of flours to refresh it daily till it was suitable for baking with. I didnt really understand the science too much and just fed it regularly with love and care and  whatever flour was in my cupboard.  I still have it alive to date.  I do have several strains in the fridge right now, a pure white, a rye and a wholemeal.

  The worst thing about sourdough starter  is the discarding when refreshing. My freezer is so full of pizza dough i can barely get anything else in it. Thankfully a teenage daughter  with lots of hungry friends helps to keep the pizza dough turning over.  And  I have  now perfected pizza dough and the  method of cooking that knocks the socks of any store bought and some restaurant pizzas.   Enough of my rambling just one more thing another coincidence my nieces daughter is also called Orla.  

regards

Linda

 

 Hi Linda, I'm very chuffed that you got some inspiration from my blog! The most difficult thing for me is time (for instance I'm away from home all of this week) and my own expectations of myself. I have a scientific background, so I feel as though I really should understand what's going on in the baking process. But there are so many variables! Putting the starter in the fridge was partly done to reduce the number of times I had to refresh/discard, so we'll see how it's doing when I get home on Saturday. How funny that you also have an Orla in your family. It's still a fairly uncommon name in Scotland (part of the reason we chose it). I like the sound of your pizza, that's one thing I really do want to perfect. 

 

Anne

Anne time is very much a problem when baking sourdough bread, i think the secret is to try to find your perfect recipe.  One that turns out well every time and you can mix it up  by trying different flours. For me the Norwich sourdough is great, plus it can be baked straight after all the science stuff on the same day or refrigerated overnight for baking in the morning.

When you have more time on your hands that is when you can play around with other recipes, today i have attempted chocolate sourdough, its happily sitting in the fridge for baking in the morning.........well I hope its happy.  It was a totally new recipe and completely different to my comfort zone procedures.  I was crazy enough to a blog on it  I also baked 3  Norwich sourdough loaves first thing this morning , these I had prepared yesterday.

 

Anne when i first read you blogs I thought I noticed one where you mentioned putting your starter in the fridge after it had risen to its maximum..............I might be wrong maybe that was another blog...................I always put my starter in the fridge straight after I feed it i don't wait till it starts to activate.    As I said my science bit is not good but doing it my way has never failed me even after leaving one once for 4 weeks before i used it again. When i took it out of the fridge it was lazy a first but after 3 feeds it was back to normal. That was last summer when my starter was much younger than it is now. I don't know what way  is best.

 

Give the pizza dough a try, once you get  handling it right you won't look back.  I put the dough straight onto a well floured piece of parchment, I flour my fingers and just push the dough into a roundish shape. I prebake for 2-3 minutes bring the dough back out then top it.  The longer you leave the dough at room temperature the better however its harder to handle.

I have also found that if you can refresh your starter at night, use the discard for a pre-ferment,  ( i have another good recipe which uses a pre-ferment, I will get it up one day) built the final dough from the pre-ferment the next morning you can have then have  loaves  to refrigerated overnight for baking the next again day.  I bake loads over a weekend or free days and freeze.  Sourdough bread seems to love the freezer.

  I can remember when I first started baking sourdough bread, I was baking  at two o'clock in the morning, that is before i discovered you can retard the procedures by putting the dough and the loaves in the fridge.

Well I  hope working away this week is good for you  and not too stressful, if you have the time when your away and have an internet facility "Wild Yeast" site is very interesting  and informative. 

regards Linda