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  1. Intro
    What is sourdouh?
    How to make sourdough bread
  2. Sourdough bread - The Culture
  3. Recipes
  4. Where to buy what you need



This is designed to help anyone who's wanting to bake their own sourdough bread - and still have a life. It gives a little background as to why you might like to start, and gives two basic recipes.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough bread is simply bread made using 'natural' yeasts present in the environment (e.g. on the flour itself) rather than 'industrial' yeasts - dried or fresh - which are sold for bread-making. A sourdough culture is the same kind of animal as an industrial yeast, and it raises the dough to achieve a similar end result - but it takes a great deal longer to do so, and you need a lot more of the raising agent. Industrial yeasts (fresh or dried) have been bred for scores of years to generate a risen loaf fast and effectively - just as crops and animals have also been bred to be bigger and juicier than they were centuries ago - and they do it very well; good yeast bread (especially home-made) can be very nice indeed. But sourdough bread is tasty, simple, varied (you can use any grain, just as with yeast bread), debatably better for you (see below) and above all enjoyable and easy to make. It gives me a great kick to make bread with just my very own home-grown yeast culture, flour, and water - nothing else!

I have gained my knowledge of sourdough from helpful friends and also from Andrew Whitley's excellent and informative book, Bread Matters (2006, ISBN 9780007298495). Here he explains how changes in milling practice and in the bread-making process (in the interests of increased speed, output and profits) over the last couple of centuries have altered our daily bread hugely and mostly for the worse: it's cheaper than ever before, perhaps, but we pay a heavy price in taste and quality. Whitley describes the crucial influence of time on the bread-making process, and points out the advantages of sourdough bread, with its natural, slow-acting yeasts, and gives many yeast and sourdough recipes - one of which is now our daily bread at home.

How to make sourdough bread

Good home-made bread is within the reach of everyone with an oven and the inclination. You do not have to spend hours slaving over a floury counter, or travel miles for obscure grain-related ingredients (although you are welcome to do both should you wish). Sourdough bread-making requires time, but not much of your own actual involvement, and it is essentially a simple process; take flour, water, warmth and time, and create reliably tasty bread! All the ingredients and equipment you could ever need are available from some excellent local places and - of course - the internet.



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