All rise for Sourdough September, a celebration of using fermented dough to create delicious tangy loaves. We are huge fans of sourdough here at Ross and Ross, choosing to incorporate it into our celebratory spreads for our clients. It’s versatile, delicious and has the added bonus of staying fresh longer than traditional loaves. Artisan bakers are constantly creating delicious variations on the traditional sourdough loaf and it is actually easier than you think to make your own sourdough starter at home.
We source our sourdough loaves from Mark at Cotswold Bakery. The unique flavour and texture of Mark’s sourdough is down to the flour he uses, the dough temperature, length of fermentation and how it is handled. It is all a carefully considered balance the bakery is founded upon.
Sourdough bread is made by fermenting the dough with naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast. The result is a dough with a uniquely sour taste that is reflected in the baked loaf. The lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli is a natural preservative, ensuring that your sourdough will be fresh for a few days. The earliest records of sourdough bread date back to 3600 BC, whereas we have only been using baker’s yeast to leaven our bread since the end of the last century!
The most popular variety of sourdough bread and the one we see most often in shops and bakeries is the San Francisco sourdough. In the mid-1800s, French bakers were perplexed that they couldn’t replicate the same loaves that they’d been creating in Paris. The foggy climate of the Pacific coast was souring their yeast, and the San Francisco sourdough was born. It was originally believed that it could only be created within a 50-mile radius of the city, but scientists identified the bacteria responsible and named it after the city – Lactobacilli sanfranciscensis.
Sourdough breads are cultivated all over the world. Danish rugbrød, German pumpernickel, Mexican birote salado and Ethiopian inerja all rely on a fermented started to rise. Bakers after developing more gluten-free sourdough breads, as the leavening process can improve the flavour of wheat-free flours.
In celebration of Sourdough September, why not treat yourself to a slice of fresh sourdough, fresh from the oven? If you have a great artisanal bakery on your doorstep, this may well be a regular occurrence. But if not, you can bake your own sourdough at home using our simple recipe. It takes five days to make your sourdough starter, but other than remembering to top it up, it’s not too tricky!
Find yourself a large, clean jar with a securely fitting lid. Mix 2 tsp of strong white bread flour and 1 tbsp cold water inside. Seal the jar and keep it in a warm place overnight. Add 2 tsp flour and 1 tbsp water to the jar each day, then stir, seal and leave overnight. You’ll notice increasing amounts of bubbles forming on the surface of the starter each day. It should begin to smell yeasty and acidic- that’s the magic happening. If you continue to feed your starter and keep it warm, it’ll keep growing. But after five days, you’ll be ready to make your first loaf.
Adapted from BBC Good Food.
Sourdough September is the brainchild of The Real Bread Campaign, and run by the charity Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. They’re keen to make bread better for us and better for the planet. They define real bread as that made as simply as possible and without added preservatives, using traditional methods wherever possible. They also want to get more people back in the kitchen and baking their own loaves!
Need a little help getting started? The Bread Ahead Bakery offers a range of baking classes to help you brush up on your bread making skills. To celebrate Sourdough September, they are discounting all workshops and gift vouchers sales for their new Wembley site, by 25%.
You can taste some delicious locally sourced sourdough bread with our event catering.