Sunday, 22 February 2015

Loafing Around

Ok so it was a bit heavy - I could have injured someone with it!

Oh my goodness, I have been doing so many things just recently and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat I’m afraid. And now, sitting down at the computer at last I’m not sure which exciting adventure to share first  :)

So, I’ll leap in with my sourdough and save the rest for other posts....

My friend Helen and I decided we were ‘of an age’ and took the leap in joining a local WI group to see what it was all about. Forget all the stereotypes you might have heard, the WI are experiencing a bit of a revival and many of the groups are seeing huge increases in numbers. This is great news, especially as the WI are celebrating their centenary this year. The group we chose to try out call themselves the ‘Folly Dollies’, they are a really friendly bunch and host an interesting range of talks and events . The night we went a lady was there talking about Sourdough Bread – if I’m being honest this one didn't strike me as the most interesting but it was in actual fact a really good evening! Judith (bread lady extraordinaire) spoke about the history of sourdough, some of the benefits and then talked through the process of making it. Clearly she couldn't show us the whole thing in one evening but we saw a range of highlights from the starter bubbling away to a batch proving (rising) to the finished product ready to try. It was delicious! 

Once home, I read up on sourdough and decided to treat myself to one of Judith’s starter kits so I could have a go myself. It duly arrived looking beautiful and slightly scary. I had to transfer the starter from a zip lock bag into a jar and then feed it regularly with flour and water to get it to grow. Judith had sent three different starters so I labelled them carefully and spent the next week tending my jar babies and watching as the amount of starter grew and grew and grew – a bit like a scene from the magic porridge pot I was half expecting the mixture to take over the whole kitchen! DH was a bit worried I was becoming obsessed when he caught me feeding my babies at 5.30am :)

The kit arrived looking very exciting!

 This weekend I had set aside time to actually make the bread – a lengthy procedure involving kneading (lots of) and rising (lots and lots of) and then baking.

I discovered it's quite hard to take a photograph of yourself kneading bread.

Arise Sir Oxfordshire Starter - clearly I didn't arise for long enough. Note the clever labelling system which fell off at every given opportunity :(

I won’t bore you with all the details but I really enjoyed the whole process  - I was a bit worried the kneading would be hard work and a bit ‘mysterious’ (how do you know when it’s done?) but it was actually really therapeutic and mindful. I was too impatient with the proving bit – the first rise was very successful but I was in a hurry to get it into the oven and I don’t think I left it long enough and so my resulting loaves were a bit dense but vaguely edible. Still, it’s a learning curve and I can’t wait to have another go!