Sourdough Days

In which the Bread Lady gets complicated…

It was sourdough today, but as it takes time there will be no pictures of delicious looking bread. Instead everyone poured the dough into brotforms and went home.

To me that’s a bit like a rugby match I once attended (Leicester Tigers v Bath in 2010). The score was 21 – 15. A drop goal and six penalties to five penalties. There is something immensely unsatisfactory about a game of rugby with no tries. It was raining too, and I had a group of Β Under-14s with me. The game was televised and I’m told you could see me sitting in the rain in an open stand behind the goal looking more and more miserable every time someone scored.

Anyway, there were some dazzling skills on display today and a number of very competent breadmakers in attendance. If I tell you that the number of competent breadmakers didn’t quite equal the number of people attending I’m sure you will get the picture. We had every possible scenario from one batch that formed a crust as soon as the air got to it and another that looked like the perpetrator was pouring pancake batter.


Gail doesn’t usually betray much emotion in class, but even she looked incredulous at what Barry had done using just flour and water

Gail was at her best; she loves the science of breadmaking, and the more complicated it is the better she likes it. However, before I say too much I will pause and reflect that she had 15 people at her session where I only attracted three last time I filled in for her. People clearly like complication. (Also note that it has not been possible, despite trying for three years, to take a picture of Gail with her eyes open and her hands still.)

Fair enough, I suppose, if you really want simple bread you can jump in the car and buy a crap loaf from the supermarket.

I always recall a story of Ancient Egypt about the advent of leavened bread (we can tell they used yeast because you can see it in ancient bread remains if you use an electron microscope. (And they say that archaeology is dull!) Conjecture has it that yeast was introduced into bread when an Egyptian baker kneaded the bread with his feet whilst suffering from athlete’s foot.

It’s probably not true. In fact it’s almost certainly not true. However, when you taste sourdough bread it’s hard to stop that suspicion of truth entering your mind.

If you want to join the bread class check out the farm website. It’s great fun and I can recommend it for a good morning out with convivial company.

I will end there. My work is done, and I wonder how many of you will be able to eat sourdough without thinking of Egyptian feet from now on…




14 thoughts on “Sourdough Days

  1. derrickjknight

    An excellent pictorial record. Do you recall a 0-0 draw between England and Wales sometime in the ’60s, or have I imagined it? A mudbath on a B/W TV comes to mind.

  2. Cara Ellen

    After a month long journey and even longer creating my starter, I FINALLY succeeded in sourdough bread using only flour, water and salt yesterday. It was fun to see your post as I logged on to write my own about the long winded journey of bread making.


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