Bread baking has become an enjoyable part of my repertoire, after some frustrating early attempts. The River Cottage Handbook No. 3 (Bread) was a fantastic introduction to the confusing world of yeasts and glutens with clear simple explanations to the magic.
I was keen to get into sourdoughs, but each attempt at cultivating my own breadmaking army resulted in enemy invasions taking over, with the inevitable yeastocide (i.e. tipping them down the sink). Fortunately my cousin-in-law very kindly donated two of her yeast starters for me to cultivate, and being already established means they are now thriving even in my care.
I picked the classic River Cottage white sourdough recipe. It’s a long recipe with the “sponge” being left overnight and then allowing time for 4 rises and a final long proving. The bread still didn’t look huge but I placed it quickly in the super hot oven along with a dash of hot water for steam. The results were great, it puffed up nicely with some decent air holes and a fantastic flavour.
Bread baking at home is very satisfying, and not as hard or mysterious as people think, so I would encourage every one to give it a go. Even a slightly awry loaf is still SO much better than the awful, light as a feather, thin sliced breads in the shops.