Baking: A bread that’s pure gold

Sourdough

Sourdough - Credit: Archant

Baking is the new rock and roll, as anyone who has watched The Great British Bake Off will know.

Today is the first heat of our own Suffolk Great British Bake Off to find the county’s best amateur baker and a county signature bake.

I am one of the judges and am looking forward to seeing all the entries and finding out how entrants will interpret the Suffolk theme.

One such treat could be a Suffolk-inspired bread. If I were to enter, it would be with a sourdough bread, made with natural Suffolk micro-organisms and fermenting natural yeasts.

Sourdough is unique bread made by a long fermentation of dough using naturally-occurring yeasts and lactobacilli. In comparison with breads made quickly with cultivated yeast, it usually has a mildly sour taste because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.


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In the beginning all risen breads were sourdough, or naturally leavened, breads. The move to using commercial baking yeast was brought about to save time, not to make better bread.

If you fancy making your own sourdough, you can have amazing bread with flavour that cannot be surpassed, a crust that is fantastic and surprising keeping qualities. But first you need a “starter”, made by combining spring water with organic white flour. Once your “starter” has begun to ferment, you can feed it every few days with more flour and water and then bread making can begin.

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Sourdough was the main bread made in northern California during the California Gold Rush, and it remains part of the culture of San Francisco today. Some starter fermentations are kept in families for years: when settlers moved through America and Canada they would keep their starter in a pouch around their necks to keep it warm. They feared that the starter would freeze and be spoilt; in fact, freezing doesn’t kill a starter. Only heat will do that.

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