Dough It Myself?

This is an archived post, moved over from my old Blogger account- hence the lack of photos! If you’d like to see it in it’s full glory, you can still access it at

Let’s not beat around the bush here. I love bread. Real bread. Big chewy sourdough, filling rye and proper baguettes. Not for me a shop bought pre-sliced except for a proper bacon sandwich with a hangover (then it’s Warburton’s Toasty all the way – my guilty pleasure).

There are some great artisan bread makers in the North West. More? The Artisan Bakery near Kendal is my favourite. Owner Patrick has heavenly sourdough and award winning loaves of all shapes and sizes. The German Bakery over in Merseyside does an intriguing Ginger & Sesame loaf which is great with marmalade, and The Cheshire Smokehouse has an in-house bakery where the locals can pre-order their daily loaf so that they don’t miss out.

The thing is, I don’t live anywhere near these bakeries so if I want my lunch loaf to be more than a spongy slice, then I need to bake my own. I’m pretty competent at baking so I was a little cocky when I approached bread making, assuming that it would be as easy as making a cake.

First came the book. I chose Richard Bertinet’s Dough because it focused on yeast bread – I didn’t think I was ready for sourdough starters. Oh, and the photography is divine. Seriously, I could practically taste most of that bread just looking at the pictures. Which is lucky, because I was never going to taste it as it should be.

Bertinet has his own kneading method and the book even comes with a DVD to show you the technique. So I watched the DVD, read and re-read the instructions and started working my way through the different varieties. My focaccia looked divine, but tasted like a sponge. Rye and caraway, cider bread, white rolls. All bricks. What was I doing wrong? I tried the hand kneading and the counter-top mixer methods, but to be honest everything I did was pap.

Maybe I just wasn’t made for yeast. So a kind friend gave me some of his starter which he’s been cultivating for 6 years, and his ‘fool proof’ Moro sourdough recipe. I know he knocks out consistently lovely loaves every week with this starter and recipe so my hopes were high. *Cue sexy M&S voiceover lady* My attempts aren’t just bricks. They are sourdough bricks.

I won’t give up. So what’s next? I am trying another book, the River Cottage Bread Handbook, and looking for a course. So if anyone knows of/ runs a bread making course in the North West, please let me know and you will have one very keen student.

The day I make an edible loaf, you will be sure to hear about it. And until that day, it’s wraps for lunch again…

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