I love sourdough bread, but thought for a long time that making it would be an incredibly arduous process that I would never fit in around work etc. I also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep the sourdough starter alive, or that it would grow and grow take over the whole kitchen. How wrong I was! One of my students, Matthew, made his own sourdough starter and appeared in my office one day with a small jar of it to get me started. I thanked him, but explained I would probably kill it fairly quickly and said that I hoped he wouldn’t be upset if I did. He patiently reassured me that if he could keep it alive then so could I, and that I really should be able to make lovely bread with it. He also gave me some foolproof instructions and directed me to a recipe which he had found to work pretty much every time.
The starter has been happily living in the fridge (Mr McGregor refers to it as ‘the thing in the fridge that’s alive’ and I’ve now successfully made three loaves. The first one was made in a day and though I worried the dough hadn’t risen very much (our house is cold, and this is still only spring, in Scotland), it rose reasonably well in the oven and the loaf certainly tasted OK. It wasn’t very bubbly though.
I’ve since used the recipe Matthew directed me to which is available here, and which works really well. It does take 24 hours, but there is virtually no hands on time, most of the 24 hours it is just sitting around doing its thing. Again the dough didn’t rise as much as I expected, but it baked beautifully and is full of holes, just as it should be! I’m a convert!
I’m told there are lots of health benefits to sourdough, which I now need to go and research before reporting back…..
Many people seem to be trying to cut down on gluten, or to avoid it altogether so I plan to try more gluten free bakes. Our rhubarb is growing well, so I made this gluten free rhubarb and almond cake. It went very well with some extra stewed rhubarb on the side…..
Gluten free rhubarb and almond cake (pdf: Gluten free rhubarb and almond cake)
85g unsalted butter
1 tsp almond extract
50g caster sugar, plus more for sprinkling
80g ground almonds
80g rice flour
1½ tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 200/180oc fan. Line a 20cm springform tin
- Melt the butter then set aside to cool slightly
- Mix butter and sugar together till well mixed. Beat in egg, ground almonds, rice flour, baking powder, almond extract and buttermilk. Spoon/pour into the prepared tin
- Wash and cut the rhubarb into stalks around 3cm long, cutting any thick pieces in half then arrange in a circle on top of the cake batter
- Bake in the oven for around 40 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin