It is over a year now since I started making my own sourdough. For ages I dismissed the idea of making my own because it all sounded a bit too much like hard work to be honest. But of course I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes it takes a little time and patience to get your starter going and no, you can’t whip up a loaf with no notice but as it turns out, it was the slow process that lured me in and made me love it all the more. There is something borderline magical about making bread with little more than flour and water.
Sometimes the whole making of the starter thing can be off-putting to some people and I totally get that. I remember when I first started mine and I couldn’t imagine how this jar of flour and water that I was laboriously feeding every day would ever yield me an actual loaf of bread. But then something magical happened. We came back from a long day out at Chester Zoo to find that this jar of gloop had actually come to life and was bubbling and fizzing all over the kitchen. It was henceforth known as The Beast and feeding it became part of our bedtime routine. The kids used to fight over whose turn it was. I think it is fair to say that the children’s interest in sourdough soon wore off (unless it was being offered in the form of Jim Jams on toast) but my love for it continued.
A year on, I tend to go through all or nothing baking phases. I go from making loaves every other day to nothing at all for a month. You hear people bang on about how temperamental starters are and how easy they are to kill but I seem to be better at keeping it alive than any houseplant we have ever had. In actual fact I find it really forgiving. Even when it lays forgotten at the back of the fridge without so much as a pizza being made for weeks at a time, a little bit of love and a couple of feeds later all is forgiven and it is back to making amazing loaves. What I’m trying to say is don’t be put off by thinking that sourdough is more complicated than it is. It really is just flour and water and not in the least bit scary.
As with most baking, some loaves are definitely better than others but I have never had a bad loaf. And I will never not be in total awe when I lift that pot out of the oven and see what magic has occurred. The sound of a singing sourdough has become one of my very favourite things in life. What can I say, I am easily pleased. But please tell me that I’m not the only one that can hear their bread singing? It is somewhere in between a crackle and a hiss but definitely music to the ears. There’s a whole lot of magic in those loaves of bread trust me.
If you want to have a go at making your own sourdough, my friend Ben over at Mutterings of a Fool has a foolproof method for making your own starter right through to creating these amazing loaves. I still follow his instructions to the letter a year later. Oh and if sourdough pizza is your thing, the best recipe I have found is one from Hobbs House Bakery. It never lets me down and is super speedy to boot. (Annoyingly, as I have come to write this their website is currently down while they get ready for a relaunch but I will keep an eye out and come back to add the link later!)