Way back when I was small and stubborn, I remember grumbling to my mum about eating my vegetables.
My mum was an ox when it came to rules and finishing everything on your plate was one of them! She said to me, “Be grateful for your dinner Shala, some children are only eating dry bread and water tonight”. I remember genuinely thinking to myself – ‘Dry bread and water? Hah! I’d happily swap out these brussel sprouts out for a piece of dry bread…. A crusty farmers loaf with a light spongy centre would have been favourable but I wasn’t fussy – I was a bread lover from an early age.
The love of bread carried on through to my twenties when I realised that same crusty loaf went exceptionally well with fine olive oil, balsamic, fresh pesto, sundried tomatoes, hummus, sunshine and a bottle of wine…. or two!
Now in my thirties I’m learning how to make those loaves from scratch using my wild yeast starter which is now nearly two years old.
I’ve travelled from Holland, through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and now the States with my starter and I’ve created some fabulous loaves!
And of course with every great loaf there is always a great fail of a loaf – including the slightly ‘charred’ one I just pulled out of the oven this morning!
It wasn’t until earlier this year that I really started to fine tune the art of baking sourdoughs. It started with a great book and some helpful advice from some chef friends and then my loaves began to soar. Its been a huge learning curve but one that brings endless satisfaction.
I’ve recently started experimenting with specialty flours and sprouted grains which has opened a whole new world of loaves.. And if that wasn’t enough for my little test kitchen, I’ve discovered that playing around with hydration creates a completely new dimension to an otherwise perfect slice of bread.
I was originally going to post a recipe with this post but instead I will leave you with a link to the Tartine Country Bread recipe. Its been the basis for my recent experiments and is a great foundation loaf to start with.
If you don’t have any of the Tartine Books I highly recommend you purchase.
Happy baking champs!
Some of my recent loaves.