After twenty five years of making sourdough bread, I have refined my practice to be as honest and simple as possible. In effect, this has involved using less and less - flour, water, salt and fire. The four breadmaking elements, as simple as can be.
Thus, Elemental Breads.
These breads are all sole baked, and are pure sourdough breads. They are baked in Luna, my specially designed woodfired oven. I use three different 'dough starters'. If you have read bits of this website, you would be aware this means that the starter used to raise them has a dough consistency, rather than a liquid. I find the bread made from a dough starter has better texture and flavour than that made from a liquid starter.
'Papa' is the name my kids gave my original starter, which for years lived in the home fridge as a backup to those which lived in the bakery. From Papa, I have grown many different starters.
My sourdough starters are over twenty five years old, and I have personally created and nourished them for the whole quarter of a century. I use two starters fed on wheat - a white and a wholemeal, and one fed on rye.
I do not use any type of refined yeast at all. Concentrated commercial yeast loves to live in your guts, and is commonly the culprit behind what is referred to as 'bread belly'. Sourdough yeasts are quite different, and actually die off at body temperature, so create no tummy issues. In addition, they come with a host of helpful bacteria, which actually promote healthy gut flora.
Good bread takes time
I use a very slow method to leaven my breads, with a pre fermentation and three proofs. The entire process takes about three or four days, depending on the volume I am intending to bake. I fire up my woodfired oven every Friday, and bake a few loaves - then roll the whole bakery out to wherever the market will be the next morning, and bake some more right there at the market.
I don't supply restaurants or cafes - if you want bulk, you have to order and pick up from the market I'm attending, or from my Gypsy trailer bakery in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. If you want my bread for your cafe, I can teach you how to make it yourself. Making more bread is not in my business plan. It's all about making enough to keep my customers happy, and enough to help pay the bills. And teaching others how to make it.
I like to call it 'decentralised baking'. If we want to fix the world, we have to decentralise almost everything.
The Civilised Baker
Unlike other bakers, I try to live a civilised life, while making the best and freshest sourdough bread I can possibly make for you. This is a tricky balancing act. That's why I take my bakery to you, but only one day a week.
Bread that's baked in front of your eyes is about as fresh as it's possible to be! I have found that continuous super early starts is not good for the body or the soul, or the family. So on Saturdays, I'm up and cranking the oven well before dawn. That way, you get the love I put into it, rather than any other emotion I might be experiencing through continued lack of sleep.
Waste not, want not
I try to bake just enough for each market I attend - some are large markets, and some are small, in different regions. If there are leftovers, I either give them away, or turn them into 'organic coal', using waste heat from the oven. This becomes fuel to power the oven for the next bake.
Currently, the sourdough bread varieties on offer are as follows:
Sourdough Breads based on a white starter include:
- White sourdough bread
- Rustic Baguette
- Large White sourdough
- Sourdough Rolls
- Turkish sourdough
- Fruit sourdough
Sourdough Breads based around a wholewheat starter include:
Sourdough Breads based around a rye starter include:
I don't bake all of these breads every week - just a core of about seven to nine of these, with an extra one or two rotating types to keep everyone happy on an intermittent basis.
If you find yourself in Newcastle or the Hunter Valley on a Saturday, check out SourdoughBaker's Facebook Page page for details of where I'll be in the morning with fresh bread!