Life wouldn't be the same for me if I didn't have good home baked bread. No exaggeration.
I love baking bread and eating it. Covered in too much butter of course.
Every time a loaf comes out of the oven, that crunchy, toasty crust with sweet soft crumb underneath, I'm always in awe and slightly shocked. It's like magic to me, putting water, flour, yeast and salt together, then in a matter of hours you have a heavenly loaf ready to be devoured.
Of course I've made bread for years, it's something we all do at school, remember those curly snail shell buns and plaits? So proud eating them on the bus on the way home.
Then years ago I fell in love with the Sourdough. And the obsession has grown over the years, culminating in lots of Bread cookbooks, hours whiled away researching the perfect loaf and what seem like hundreds of ways to bake the best Sourdough. It's also lead to Simone, my Starter. Having been loved and nurtured for a good few years now, I think Simone and I are beginning to crack it, producing steadily improved loaves with consistently better results.
Of course you can buy great Sourdough. We have some fab bakeries in Birmingham with mouthwatering loaves to buy, but where is the satisfaction in that?!
So with the start of a new chapter in my Birmingham life and a little more time on my hands (at last) I'm dedicating bread baking this month to the Sourdough and embracing real bread in all that Sourdough September brings.
My first port of call is a book that's been hanging out here for awhile. How To Make Sourdough by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Recommended to me by bakers in London I have to admit to glancing at it very rarely before now, convinced I can master this myself.
I've made very tasty sourdough loaves over the years, they've been demolished by friends, but mostly myself and Marc, yet I've always felt something was lacking and I never felt confident that the load would turn out just how I wanted it to.
This book is a revelation! The explanation behind the science of our Starter, the different flours to use and their properties. It's so wonderfully in-depth yet understandable for the home cook. I won't go in to it, if you're that keen, get the book(!) but it's given me a real basis for the process which I'm now steadily building on.