The art of making a sourdough loaf is the very pinnacle of a baker’s achievements. There are a hundred and one ways of doing it – you’ve got to find the one that works for you. A perfect sourdough should have a good, tasty crust on it. It should have a distinctive quality to its crumb – plenty of holes in there. It should also be slightly tangy to the taste buds (it’s called sourdough after all). It’s a great bread to eat; it’s a wonderful bread to toast.
What is sourdough anyway? Well, it’s a loaf that is made using only the yeasts that are available in the local environment. You don’t add baker’s yeast to the mix but you start a culture which you look after lovingly until it is mature enough to properly be used in making a loaf. We started ours with a little white flour from The Watermill at Little Salkeld, an equal quantity of water and a little apple. Each day for a week, we added a little extra flour and a little more water. By the end of the week, the starter had formed bubbles – it was alive and ready to be used. To make sourdough bread, you need to give it plenty of time to do its magic. Often we wait 72 hours before the bread is ready to bake. That’s a long, slow rise. It’s been a bit of a journey but we think that we’re getting there.
We’ve actually been making our rye bread from a sourdough starter since we opened. But it’s only in recent months that we’ve decided to go all the way and make a sourdough loaf using wheat flour. We don’t have it available everyday but we will do shortly. Keep an eye open for it on sale in the shop – it will be worth it.