Bread is such an important element in many cultures – the staff of life, as it is often called. It is an ancient food, some say dating back some 30,000 years, as early as archaeological evidence of grain found in human habitations. Although these earliest breads were mostly likely in the form of flatbreads, leavened breads were documented in ancient texts. Those leavened breads were what we now call sourdough – made from captured wild yeasts kept alive through saving a bit of dough back from the baking, and a regular feeding programme to keep the yeast culture alive.
Despite the fact that bread is made up of a few basic ingredients, there is a complex kitchen chemistry associated in producing loaves – from the first rise, to the development of the structure of gluten (protien), and ending with the application of heat and moisture. Harold MacGee in his scientific tome, On Food and Cooking, has an extensive and somewhat complicated chapter on bread.
Today it seems that sourdough home baking is making a comeback. It has become very popular, whether one makes traditional breads – which there are a vast array of different types worldwide – or experiments with new uses for the wild yeast culture. Sourdough Chronicles is my diary recording my own sourdough adventures. These will be random posts, collected here.
Lemony Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
An Easter treat with cardamom and lemon zest instead of dried fruit.
Flour in a Hot Climate (8 September 2016)
The problem of flour beetles infesting flour in hot conditions.
Lagana (15 March 2016)
Greek flatbread for Clean Monday – Καθαρά Δευτέρα – the first day of Orthodox Lent.
Unexpected Consequences (9 February 2016)
Sourcing local flours for breadmaking and its wider implications
Variables of a Sourdough Kind (5 November 2015)
Variable properties of ingredients and differents in the environment that affect bread making.
Figgy & Cheesy (15 September 2015)
Sourdough baguettes make the best crostini bases – with fig jam, caramelised onion and goat cheese in this post.
Biga (14 July 2015)
The traditional Italian preferment and Carol Field’s book, The Italian Baker
Nazareth (21 April 2015)
Sweet Cinnamon Bun pastries made with a potato dough and a sourdough starter.
At The Mill (Updated 15 March 2015)
Conversion of an earlier recipe for Barley Pancake recipe to a sourdough version.
Crisp Alternatives (10 March 2015)
Rye Seeded Crispbreads made with a rye sourdough starter.
In My Sourdough Kitchen, AKA Sourdough Chronicles I (3 March 2015)
A discussion of sourdough creations I’ve been experimenting with – pancakes, savoury biscuits, baguettes… Also an IMK post.