Baking your own bread is a very sensual experience. By sensual I mean involving the senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. I started making my own bread using a bread machine. Then I attempted the occasional rustic loaf from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. Sometimes the loaves would turn out perfect and other times they came out hard and flat, a good weapon if you ever needed one. I tried to figure out where I was going wrong and read books from the library. I still felt unsure but loved the smell of freshly baked bread too much to give up baking bread.
I recently received as a gift, a baking class at a local artisan bakery. I attended it with my mother, sister and two other lovely ladies. The class was fabulous.
We learned about the beauty and benefits of natural leaven (sourdough). Naturally leavened bread (sourdough) is healthier because the sourdough culture neutralized phytic acid making more minerals available for absorption compared to yeasted breads. Naturally leavened bread also tastes delicious and keeps and freezes better than yeasted bread.
I’ve read about starting a sourdough culture in several DIY books; the directions were conflicting at best. One recipe asked for grapes, another for a combination of flours, and another recommended buying a starter. In fact, you don’t need anything other than water and flour to start a sourdough culture. The yeast in the environment and in the flour are enough to create a chef (mother culture). However, getting a good sourdough culture can take time. At this course, we were each given a piece of sourdough starter to take home. Tomorrow, I will begin taking care of this new creature and hopefully together we’ll make some delicious naturally leavened bread.