A Journey Into Bread and BEYOND!
Hi everyone, my name is Andy and I thought I would write myself a regular blog about my baking exploits. I am a novice, a beginner of the highest order. I have never baked, cooked or even made any food for myself for many years. On a personal note I suffer from severe anorexia and despite my illness, find therapy in making and creating things and bread baking seems to be something I enjoy immensely despite the contradictions of my issues with food. Moving on from that, I have found real interest in developing a sourdough starter. When I ate normally, I was a bit of a bread snob, loved to buy artisan breads (when I had the money), and could easily eat many different varieties. As I got older and moved to Scandinavia, I discovered the world of sourdough and especially dark rye and pumpernickel breads. Nothing wrong with good old white bread for decent cheese on toast, but these fuller darker breads appealed immensely. Starting my own sourdough starter began as a semi impulse just a couple of weeks ago. I was worried initially when I began investigating how to dive into the world of sourdough. There seemed to be a multitude of horror stories, conflicting reports, good and bad advice and in the end, a massive amount of snobbery around artisan baking. Hesitantly I decided to ignore all of that and begin an organic Rye starter. After a few days it was clear that I was diving in at the deep end, but the all of a sudden that bad smell and weak feedings gave way to sweet, yeasty, sour odours and big gains after regular feedings. If any beginner bakers are reading this, please start with the absolute easiest way to make a starter, flour and water and give it time. It really should work and if it doesn't, move on to the more advanced ways, but start simple, the simple way is almost always the right way. It was scary in the beginning when it smelt awful, like varnish, but it soon developed into a fruity, yeasty and lovely smell that I cannot stop sniffing. My starter is still maturing, but that hasn't stopped me trying this first recipie to give me 2 loaves. After bulking up my starter (tips here were very helpful to understand that overlooked process) to get the right amount needed for the recipie I was ready to go. Starter was nice and active about 10h  after its last feeding and ready to go when I finished my morning exercise session. My very first loaves were uploaded a couple of days ago and my Dad has destroyed them. They went down a treat and despite some long procedures and my limited experience (they were literally my first sourdough bakes and my 2nd loaf of bread EVER), there was some success. I posted earlier on these so will not repeat myself. They tasted great (I even had a slice). However, I should add I have very few fancy pieces of equipment. NO bannetons, thermometers, baking stones or steam injection, just a basic equipped kitchen and a lot of hope and expectation. However, since that first bake a couple of days ago I bought some very cheap (60p) quarry tiles as a perfect baking stone/surface for that famed oven spring and tomorrow I will grab some cheap bread baskets as a substitute to those expensive (£10) bannetons. I need better shapes and formation techniques for my doughs. Then I will be diving in to the kitchen and giving some basic bread recipes a go to see what happens. In a heat test the tiles really conduct heat perfectly and efficiently, so I have high hopes. In the next hour I will drag my starter from its slumber in the fridge (to enhance the sour taste) and start a feed for later in the week and another levain based dough will hopefully be created and appear here. I hope someone will pop in from time to time and see how my bakes are going and hopefully this whole journey of bread making discovery will help me for the future. All the very bestAndy