Real Bread

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loaf of home-baked real bread on a cooling rack

Regular readers will know that we’re a little bit obsessed with real bread – making it, baking it and eating it. I made a few attempts at getting a starter going – sadly, none managed to survive for long. Our friends over at Snygg sent us a portion of their rye starter in the post and, (touch wood) nearly two months on, it’s still going great guns! After using & feeding it a few times I divided it and developed one half into a white starter so we have a bit of variety. We’ve been enjoying a regular supply of home-made bread – baguettes, rye loaves, ciabatta, seeded boules…

stack of breadmaking books with bannetons, bag of flour and jug of daffodils

We have an ever-growing collection of artisan bread-baking books to give us inspiration & ideas. Some of the recipes are used again & again – these are some favourites:

Bread – Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter

Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery

Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers – Peter Reinhart

How to Make Bread – Emmanuel Hadjiandreou

The Best of Baking – Annette Wolter & Teubner Christian

Country Bread – Linda Collister & Anthony Blake

A couple of these books are by American bakers so measurements are in cups. To get over this you can either use an online conversion tool, get a lovely conversion poster for your kitchen wall or, do what I did, invest in some measuring cups that measure… cups!

Use your loaf

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freshly-baked sourdough loaf still in its tin

We’ve been experimenting with bread recently…

Sliced wholemeal sourdough loaf on a bread board

…in particular, sourdough bread.

Sourdough starter with its ingredients: flour, milk & yoghurt

It begins with making a starter. This is a living, breathing culture. There are various methods of making a starter – flour & water, flour & apple juice – ours is a mixture of flour, milk & natural yoghurt. No extra yeast is added, it relies on naturally occurring yeast in the flour and air. The starter is ‘fed’ daily – we feed ours with:

  • 4 tablespoons strong white bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt

Some bakers have nurtured the same starter for decades… even centuries!

vintage bowl with sourdough dough

A portion of starter is added to flour & water for each new loaf – along with any additional ingredients such as seeds, cheese, honey etc.

freshly-baked wholemeal sourdough loaf on a cooling rack

We’ve been very pleased with the results!

sliced sourdough loaf showing the crumb

The bread has a lovely open texture and distinctive sourdough smell & taste.

Ploughman's platter with slices of sourdough bread

It’s great with all kinds of food – it’s particularly good with different cheeses, cooked meats, pickles etc – it was, in fact, ideal as part of this traditional Ploughman’s lunch.

And when it’s past its best, it makes great breadcrumbs for future use!

If you fancy having a go yourself, here are a few links to websites & books that we’ve found helpful:

Our ‘bread’ bookmarks

The Handmade Loaf, Dan Lepard

Bread: River Cottage Handbook No 3, Daniel Stevens

Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own, Andrew Whitley

Dough, Richard Bertinet

Crust: Bread to Get Your Teeth into, Richard Bertinet

ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois