Exactly one year ago today, I sat down in front of my computer to pen my very first post. A few weeks prior to that I had decided to start baking my own bread, and the day before I had produced what I proudly felt to be my first loaf worthy of a write up i.e. something that didn’t sit in your stomach for days or have the consistency of a slightly spongy brick. Thelittleloaf blog was to be a catalogue of my adventures with bread – a way to express myself, to tell some stories and to put my money where my mouth was by baking my own bread on a regular basis.
Little did I know what a big part of my life my blog would become. Or how much I had to say about so much more than just bread. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, always been the one wanting to help out in the kitchen at parties, prepare and hand round nibbles and make cakes look beautiful on birthdays, but since starting this blog I’ve found an even greater joy in food – cooking and sharing it with those I love, researching recipes, writing stories and trying to make it look just as beautiful as it tastes.
I’ve also discovered a whole community of food fanatics I never really knew existed. There are other people out there who think about food all day, who will happily help you discover hard to find ingredients, decipher instructions from a complicated recipe, share tips and tricks and ideas and passions, or simply while away the time talking about the food they love. And I don’t just mean chefs and professional foodies – although many have been so supportive and helpful over the last 12 months through emails, comments, tweets and the like – but normal, passionate people. One of the great joys of blogging about food.
Yesterday saw the start of Lent; forty days and forty nights of fasting if you follow tradition, or – for what seems like a large percentage of the UK population nowadays – an excuse to make a second attempt at kicking the vice you failed to quit the previous month as a New Year’s resolution. I’m not a big fan of abstinence – a little of what you fancy surely does you good in moderation – and I’m sure that giving up chocolate for a month only serves as fuel some serious Easter egg bingeing when the time comes round, but I do quite like the idea of doing something new, tackling a project, picking something positive to carry me through the fairly bleak weeks of February and March and emerge triumphant at the start of Spring.
So, to celebrate one year of blogging, and in the spirit of starting something new, I’m embarking on my first attempt at sourdough. After over a year of baking my own bread and getting really good results from both fresh and dried yeast, it’s time to take it old school. Reading the New Year’s resolutions on a number of blogs in January, I noticed that sourdough was a recurring fixation of the foodie community – people are fascinated by the strange creature that is the starter you have to nurture and feed, the incredible chemical reaction that results from a simple mixture of flour and water and the wonderful, chewy loaves themselves with their distinctive tangy taste.
Sourdough isn’t something I felt comfortable jumping straight into. I wanted to feel confident in my bread making abilities before progressing onto this slightly more complex process, and I needed to be prepared that it might go wrong. During the working week I’m often out of the house for more than twelve hours at a time, meaning the potential to forget to feed my baby is quite high, I might miss some of its developments, or arrive home to find it has escaped its jar and spread across the kitchen (unlikely I’ll admit, but I’ve seen the sourdough monsters out there, they do exist . . .). I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my kitchen, so to experiment in such a potential disaster zone is quite a leap of faith for me.
I’m not going to provide a recipe here – I’m only on Day One so who knows what will work and what won’t? If you want to read something a bit more serious on all things sourdough, or follow another blogger’s experiments, I’d suggest taking a look at Tea & Cookies, Café Fernando, or two of my favourite UK based bread blogs, Zeb Bakes and Azelia’s Kitchen. I’m following a carefully laid out feeding plan from my Bourke Street Bakery recipe book, so here’s hoping it does me proud.
Who knows what will be happening on this day in one year’s time? Hopefully I’ll be on my way to mastering the sourdough, with a lot of lovely loaves under my belt and another twelve months spent meeting new people, discovering new recipes and making new things. Only time will tell, but it feels like the start of something exciting. A lot can happen in a year.