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Sourdough Bread & Starter

This sourdough loaf made from Emilie Raffa’s newly released cookbook:  Artisan Sourdough Made Simpleis my proud creation derived from the starter I made and named 'Eve'.  This live culture prepared from just whole wheat flour and water has been fermenting away and creating its magic.  And I have successfully baked with it several times now using Emilie’s recipes and guidance from her book. This loaf was the perfect place to re-start my sourdough passion, and regain my confidence. Since then, I have baked her Fruit and Nut Loaf, and Light Rye Loaf.

For those who may not know Emilie, she is the author of the blog, The Clever Carrot and debut book, The Clever Cookbook.  With her classical training at the International Culinary Centre and her ingenious time saving philosophy for food preparation, I was drawn to her wealth of knowledge in helping me do what I love in half the time needed. Emilie writes with a reassuring and guiding approach which has boosted my confidence to continue baking bread. 

Through following Emilie on IG, she heard my cry for help and directed me to her tutorial on her blog found here.  With this guide, I was able to bake a few decent loaves to be proud of, which in-turn renewed my excitement for making bread the way my grandmothers and their mothers once did using a sourdough starter, but with a more simplified approach. 

Emilie’s book, is a go-to guide and one that has helped answer some of those unexpected questions I was faced with.   So naturally when I heard she had just published a book on this topic, I knew I had to add it to my cookbook collection especially if I was going to continue on this sourdough journey. This book not only teaches you how to make your very own live-culture starter and keeping it healthy, it even guides you on what to do if you forget to feed it.   There are over 65 very clear recipes ranging from an everyday sourdough through to more artisan style sweet and savoury loaves; recipes using wholegrain and specialty flours; and once you have gained some confidence there is a chapter on bread art.  All this is supported with step-by-step photos on shaping the dough and scoring techniques. Additional recipes have also been included for leftover sourdough starter and other recipes to enjoy with bread. 

Meet 'Eve'. This is her at 3 days of feeding and since then has developed actively to reward me with lovely bread, but, it didn't start off this way. My relationship with sourdough starter began a few years ago when a friend shared some with me and included a recipe for sourdough made from a mix of semolina and bakers flour.  I managed to bake a couple of small loaves, focusing mainly on how to knead the bread dough and of course trying really hard to get those big open holes. Little did I know then that it depended on a high-hydration mix, meaning a softer dough; and of course the technique of handling and shaping to name a few. Then time got the better of me and I inevitably let the starter fizzle out and gave up for a short while. If only I had known that my starter could have been revived with a few easy steps. 

If you have ever made sourdough starter and bread before, you will understand its unpredictability; when you think you are doing the right thing, you are suddenly disappointed with the results and ask yourself why? Then those successful baking days that have left me wondering why they could not be repeated. And the overwhelming amount of information, helpful but varied and some that read like a science text book.  As Emilie explains, 'it's like falling into a rabbit hole and becoming entangled in a web of confusing lingo'. 

Since then, there have been other starters made by me as well as gifted to me with many lessons learnt along the way. So what is the attraction or should I say addiction to this ancient technique? I believe it's the satisfaction of creating your very own naturally leavened bread, and being part of a community who enjoys sharing their obsession, failures, successes, exchange ideas as well as being more than happy to share their starter with you.  

What I have recently discovered from Emily and her book, is that you can dry your starter for easy storage and share it with others as far as across the seas! I am greatful and happy to say that an offspring of 'Dillan' (Emilie's starter) is currently in the mail heading my way and to other happy recipients. So with that said, it is now time to feed Eve, pop some in a jar and deliver it to one of my work colleague who loves to bake his own bread. My next project before I bake another exciting loaf is to dry some starter as well. Let me know if you would like some, as I will be more than happy to share.

Click here to purchase your copy of Emilie Raffa's book: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple
Happy baking!


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