Monday, 30 January 2012

Bread Matters

Sunrise, time to make bread.
I've been making bread for a very long time. It varied between OK and really nice but I couldn't seem to get consistency in the really nice category. About 30 years ago I bought Elizabeth David's book 'English  Bread and Yeast Cookery' and did a lot of experimenting. I was especially keen to make sourdough but found it difficult to get and keep a starter.
When I was running an organic food shop, we sold nice sourdough from the Village Bakery in Melmerby. The bakery was set up by Andrew Whitley using traditional fermenting techniques and a wood-fired oven. A couple of years ago, I was given his book 'Bread Matters' and it has transformed my bread making! He debunks the myths surrounding sourdough. You can easily make and keep your own starter. It doesn't need 'looking after' or feeding, is always ready to use and is very active. When you are busy it is easy to forget that you are supposed to be making the bread and the dough escapes:-
However, that is not a problem as it is very tolerant - I have even forgotten to bake it and left it in the pantry overnight without ill effect. The bread was made the next morning and the starter saved for another day!
Yesterday I made one of the nicest loaves yet. The long fermentation gives a nice sour tang to the bread and it keeps very well too. The dough feels and smells differently to yeast based ones and is a real pleasure to use. You can buy his book on Amazon, but better to cycle down to your local bookshop and order a copy. You'll have to cycle back when it comes in so will enjoy eating the bread even more as you will have a healthy appetite.
Check out his website here. You can even go on a course, but not until you've been on a spoon carving one first!

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