Sourdough September

September 23, 2019

Resources and a celebration of sourdough prompted by the Real Bread Campaign

Prompted by Amy Halloran, author of The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redefining Our Daily Loaf, the Artisan Grain Collaborative is participating in the social media campaign #sourdoughseptember from September 23 – 27. Follow along on AGC social media accounts–links below–to view Amy’s videos demystifying the process of sourdough for home bakers. Posts will include fun facts, tips, and recipes, as well as a giveaway from our friends at Breadtopia.

Welcome to Sourdough September (!), an initiative started by the England-based Real Bread Campaign in 2013 to invite people into the wonders of sourdough bread and baking. All over the UK and now, all over the world, bakeries are giving away sourdough starter, hosting free baking classes, and trying to raise awareness of the process and practice of sourdough baking. Part of the project is trying to help consumers understand that factory produced “sourdough“ bread might not follow the method of cultivating wild yeast and bacteria partners to raise dough; flavor additives are sometimes the souring in a loaf of what they call SOURFAUX.

This is the first year I’ve participated! I’m excited to share a handful of quick videos with you over the week that demystify the process and show my methods for making sourdough English muffins and tortillas. I teach classes in making these recipes as a route to growing comfortable with handling sourdough starter. I think that it is a lot to figure out how to feed and manage a starter, and that it is also a lot to make sourdough bread. Griddle breads are much simpler to rise than pan loaves or boules, so I want people to start right here, at the griddle! Maybe you will like these breads so much you’ll never get past this beginning and into actual loaves. I don’t think anyone will criticize you because they will fall in love with your homemade English muffins.

My own journey with sourdough was filled with fear. As I was researching my book, The New Bread Basket, I met a lot of bakers and got an idea that sourdough was a professional process. I thought that the best bread, and maybe the only bread, should be produced in a bakery that used fresh milled flour and sourdough leavening and a wood fired oven. I got so stuck in that concept that I even stopped baking yeast bread at home and let my husband take it over.

When my youngest son had a science fair at school, one of his classmates made sourdough bread and her own starter using supermarket flour. She was 11 years old. I went home, dug a little bit of sourdough starter from the back of the fridge, grabbed Richard Miscovich’s book From the Wood Fired Oven, snagged the fresh milled flour from Elmore Mountain Bread, and made my first loaf. It rose splendidly and I can’t believe that I had any fear of the process.

So please, take a look at my videos, find a friend with some extra starter — there is always extra starter because the feeding process is continual — or try to win a sourdough starter kit from Breadtopia by looking for details on Artisan Grain Collaborative’s social media accounts this week–links below. And most importantly, use some fresh whole-grain flour. The enzyme activity is really high in stoneground whole grain flour, and your new to you sourdough will bloom and grow with this great stuff.

–Amy Halloran

Stories Civil Eats & The New Food Economy

Recipes The Kitchn

Twitter:@farmbrain

Instagram @flourambassador & @amyhalloran