For the past 10 years we have been making sourdough at home. It started with my dear husband Bryan getting his head around what needed to be done, and then eventually, after a good couple of years, he taught me enough for me to take over the helm.
I need to say straight up that I am not an expert … but I am good at taking direction, and as a visual learner it is so much easier for me being shown what to do, rather than just being told what to do. And that is why I like to have photos in my posts.
What I need to emphasise here, is that what I am sharing with you in my sourdough posts is the process that I have come to follow, using the ingredients that I have found work consistently for me, and which I hope you will find work for you too.
If you have been interested in sourdough for some time, you will read a lot of information from Dr Google that will contradict what I share, and that is totally fine. As the old saying goes: “All roads lead to Rome”, so no-one’s system is better or worse than others, and I know that people will always share processes that work for them. But it can be so confusing and I don’t want that for you. In the early years I became “unstuck” with some processes, which can be disheartening. So now I follow what I do week in and week out and it never fails me. I hope you get that sort of success too.
In my notes I am trying to bring together information from lots of reliable sources that I have followed over time, and those links follow. Before I do that however there are many people I need to thank for getting me on my sourdough path, in addition to my dear beloved Bryan.
Firstly, I have so much to thank Jude Blereau for. Jude is a renowned wholefood chef and educator, and I was fortunate enough to be a participant in her Whole and Natural Foods Chef’s Training Program in 2013 (see here). Jude taught us the value of home cooked foods, using real ingredients, and looking to nature to provide us with all the nutrient dense food we need to sustain us in the world we find ourselves in.
The course was full time for 13 ½ weeks, and during that time Jude introduced us to the wonderful Holly Davis (see here). Holly is a Sydney based “fermentation” expert, who took us for a two-week block covering everything to do with “fermentation”, and that was a game changer for me. The penny finally dropped and I started to understand what we are trying to accomplish with sourdough, and every other fermented product.
In addition to Jude and Holly, another wonderful woman who I have never met, but have the utmost respect for, is Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog. Celia is based in Sydney, and I have followed her for a long time. Her whole attitude towards sharing the knowledge and skills that she has, through her blog, has inspired me to do what I do. Celia is an amazing baker and all-round cook. For the past couple of years Celia hasn’t posted as much, but prior to that she always generously shared her sourdough/bread baking information and processes, with plenty of photos, and I used to constantly refer back to her for information. For more information on Celia’s bread posts see here.
There is also a FB group called “Perfect Sourdough” run by Teresa Greenway (see here). Teresa is from the US, and set this group up as a way for sourdough bakers across the globe to share their sourdough baking adventures. It is also a great forum for sharing ideas and recipes, and many people are incredibly kind with the detail they provide. Whilst I try not to get too distracted by this group as there are some amazing posts on the bakes achieved by many (it can be deflating if you think you can’t do it too), I get inspired by others which spurs me on to try different methods and processes myself. Anyone can join the group, you only have to request it. Teresa runs her own on-line classes and tutorials too, and more information on that can be sourced through the FB group.
There are also other on-line bakers who are brilliant presenters, and very good at explaining the sourdough process. One in particular is Patrick Ryan from Ireland … he not only has a wonderful accent (I do love the Irish!), but he has a You Tube video where he shows the process of making traditional sourdough in a free-form loaf which you may wish to try at some time (see here).
There is also Sophia Handschuh, based in the UK, who has her own website called Sophia’s Kitchen (see here). Sophia has a wealth of information on her website to do with sourdough and bread making in general (her father was an artisan bread maker). In addition Sophia also uses a Thermomix which is what I do too. If you haven’t already checked out her website, you definitely need to have a peek.
And finally there is Anneka Manning … I have saved the best for last!
I have done a couple of Anneka’s on-line courses which are brilliant. She is an amazing Australian baker with many years of baking experience behind her (see here). Anneka also does a lot of work with SBS Food, and has recently updated her information on the SBS website on all things to do with sourdough (she is a “sourdough tragic” and I totally get that!) (see here). Anneka’s process is a little different to mine, but there are some similarities too. However, what I don’t want to do at this early stage is confuse you with the differences, so I suggest you review this information a little later which will add to your overall knowledge on the subject of “sourdough baking”. Anneka also offers some of her own sourdough recipes at the end of the post which is something you may wish to try at some stage too.
So with all of these wonderful people behind me, what I am trying to do here is pull together information, in one space, that is helpful to you when entering the world of sourdough baking. In my process I have learned from all of these people, and now work to a system that I will share with you in “digestible chunks” (so the information is offered in separate posts) to help get you started and on your way.
If you continue making sourdough, over time you will start to make subtle changes to these processes yourself based on what you learn from your experience and from others (we never stop learning), and will eventually adjust the process to suit yourself and your lifestyle.
You can therefore see that sourdough is a very personal and individual journey based around something that is “alive” and wonderful, and I do hope you enjoy travelling down that path as much as I do.
If you are a cookbook lover like me, then you may be interested in considering some sourdough cookbooks. I have so many books, but the ones I tend to go back to for information, ideas and inspiration are:
- “Tartine Bread” by the amazing Chad Robinson, who owns and runs the legendary Tartine Bakery in San Francisco;
- “Sourdough Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savouries, and More” by Sarah Owens who lives in the US;
- “Artisan Sourdough Made Simple” by Emilie Raffa also from the US; and
- “The Sourdough School, The Ground-Breaking Guide to Making Gut Friendly Bread” by Vanessa Kimbell who resides in the UK.
There really are some wonderful and amazing bread books out there, but I can’t have them all!
Happy baking … Gina 🙂