Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sourdough Simplicity: book review

For a while now I've been meaning to review a very useful little book by my friend Rose Godfrey, Sourdough Simplicity. It's really a very handy, practical instruction manual for those just striking out in the world of sourdough starter. Personally I've been wanting to try sourdough for a while, and was only stopped by my husband's "eek!" factor. Now I'm more inspired than ever to give it a shot.

I'll be honest: despite Rose's just warnings about whole-grain sourdough bread coming out dense, if I do try sourdough, it will only be with whole grain flour (either wheat, rye or spelt). I just don't see much point in making a starter, keeping it going, investing in a long rise process, making the gamble of an unpredictable product, and all this to get what essentially is still white bread from refined, nutrient-stripped flour (though undoubtedly superior in taste to the usual quick-rise bread).

Yes, traditionally fermented bread is in many cases better tolerated by those with grain allergies, as opposed to quick-rise bread made with baker's yeast. But still, from a nutritional standpoint, it isn't much. It might not give you an allergic reaction, but it won't give you much of anything else, either.

Either way, Sourdough Simplicity is a great way to get going in that confusing new world of sourdough starter. It also provides many great recipes, creative ways of utilizing leftovers, and troubleshooting tips.

"I needed a method that was pure simplicity and a recipe that tasted great. In the end, I found that sourdough baking did not have to be complicated, and it could fit all my objectives. I started with a wonky oven that had 4 distinct heat zones and still managed to bake delicious breads. My loaves are not always Pinterest-perfect, but they are tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. There is always some minor variation from loaf to loaf, and we are OK with that."


Krysia said...

Big fan of sourdough here.
I fail at making yeast bread, but sourdough always gives me a good (or at least good enough) result. I usually use 1/3 wholegrain, 2/3 white. The great thing is that the process is practically effortless. In my go-to recipe it's, say, 1 minute to refresh the starter, 12 hours wait, max. 10 minutes prep (no need for kneading, just stir), 12+ hours rising time, bake for 35 minutes. Admittedly in recipes with a second rise the loaf is less dense.
To me, the big difference to store-bought is how long it keeps - it tastes pretty good even after over a week.
Buckwheat kasha makes a great add in.

Lady Anne said...

I used to make sour-dough bread all the time; I have a cook book published in 1967 for breads and coffee-cakes made with raw potato starter, and it is falling apart. My first husband tossed out my starter, either by mistake or sheer unkindness, telling me he thought it had gone bad, and I never made it again. You may have given me the inspiration to make another batch and begin again.


You might like starter-based breads, or "natural yeast". I live in a hot country and sourdough is way too sour here, so what I did is create fresh batches of yeast off fermented fruits ie. grapes, apples. without adding flour until I make bread (adding honey/sugar instead).

Also, do check out the BBC series, "Victorian Bakers". It's an amazing eye-opener depicting how baking has changed. You'll love it, I think!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, ladies! If I do give sourdough a try (or, more precisely, persuade my husband to give it a try) I'll be sure to post an update.

Miriam said...

if you can get your flour just ground it is so much more efficient than bought flour. Maybe you could lend a hand mill somewhere? Maybe your husband would appreciate a challenge to be a grinder? :-)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Miriam, I'd love a grain grinder and I'll definitely shop around for one. Buying grain in bulk would be a lot cheaper than buying whole grain flour.