Posts Tagged ‘homemade sourdough’

Breadmaking is a wonderfully therapeutic process.

Life has been crazy busy lately, but my weekly Saturday breadmaking always affords me a little downtime.

I’ve been baking bread at home for over four years now, and the routine has become both comforting and easy. And since we don’t buy bread (with the exception of Lebanese pita bread), I have no choice but to bake at least once a week, often more.

I fed my starter up on Friday night, spent twenty minutes making the dough the following morning, then another twenty minutes or so shaping the dough after lunch.  The sourdough process takes a long time, but very little hands on involvement is required on my part.  Yeasted breads are even faster!

As the new school year is about to start, I baked a large  (90cm/36″) tray of sourdough focaccia for Small Man.  He takes a substantial slice for lunch each day, spread with Vegemite…

I also knocked up a very large batch of sourdough (half spelt, half bakers’ flour). The finished dough weight was 2700g (nearly 6lb), and it became two pointy-eared epi…

…six oversized lunch rolls…

and three baguettes.

If you’ve never made bread before and would like to give it a go, you might find this basic tutorial useful.  But be warned, breadmaking is addictive!

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Photos of this morning’s sourdough bake – I knocked up the dough last night at 9pm, left it to prove overnight on the bench, shaped the loaves and rolls this morning at 6am and baked them an hour later. These are a 60:40 white:dark rye hybrid and the long overnight prove has given them a delicious sourness that works particularly well with the rye.  The loaves will be turned into Vegemite sandwiches for Small Man to take to school and Big Boy will take the rolls for lunch, stuffed with ricotta, prosciutto and chilli jam.  And the best thing is – the kitchen smells wonderful all day!



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I started baking bread in December 2006. I’d made the occasional loaf prior to this, but it wasn’t until Maude  bought me a copy of Richard Bertinet’s Dough that the mania really set in.  This book was great for two reasons – firstly, it was easy to follow with lots of gorgeous photos and great techniques.  Secondly, there was a dvd included, which showed the eye-candy Frenchman simplifying the breadmaking process to something my seven year old niece was able to master.

Bertinet’s book focuses on yeast breads, but it wasn’t long before I wanted to make my own sourdough.  After a couple of failed attempts at brewing my own (I did manage to grow some rather scary looking purple mould), I opted to purchase some dried starter over the internet. About three seconds after I’d hit the “Pay Now” button, it occurred to me that I’d asked for little sachets of white powder to be sent to me from the US. Visions of trying to explain this to the AFP led to several frantic calls to friends – “Look, I know this sounds bonkers, but if the Federal Police ever ask you, please tell them that I mentioned I was buying sourdough starter, ok?”.  Surprisingly, nothing ever came of this – the envelope arrived unopened.  I placed a second order a few months later and that was opened, but quarantine approved it and sent it on through.  I guess wild yeasts just aren’t a problem.

The dried starter took off like a dream and within a week I’d made my first loaf of sourdough.  This was in January 2007, and we haven’t purchased a loaf of bread since (except for when we’ve been on holidays).  Neither has Maude, whom I passed a jar of bubbling leaven to as soon as it was healthy enough to bud off. Since then I’ve shared the starter with half a dozen friends, most of whom are still using it today.

Here is our midweek sourdough bake – three loaves of white for school lunches, a loaf of grain bread for Pete and I, and some mixed grain epi, using Kevin’s pre-mix.  This will feed our family well for three to four days, so I’ll be baking again on the weekend.


Friends often ask me why I bother, given that it’s now possible to buy great sourdough locally.  Of course, there are the usual reasons – being able to control what goes into the bread, huge cost savings and the warm inner glow that comes from some small measure of self-sufficiency.  But there is  another reason I “bother”, and that is because I find the rhythm and routine of the process very comforting.  We bake our own bread, that’s just what we do, and I know that twice a week, the house will be warm and filled with hot, fresh loaves that smell divine, and I’ll be filled with a sense of peace and contentment.

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