This is Stan II. The first Stan had an unfortunate accident. He went mouldy and I threw him out in disgust, before reading all the helpful websites that say that actually he could have been saved. Oops!
But it's alright, because Stan II is alive and well and lives in the fridge. He's my sourdough starter.
I've been wanting to dabble in making my own sourdough for about six years. Every since I worked for a bakery on Borough Market and smelt the sourdough baking and enjoyed it almost everyday. I LOVE sourdough. For all my love of baked goods, I do love truly savoury, and often slightly sour foods. I adore lemon juice on just about everything, happily munch on grapefruits with no sugar, much to N's horror, and the slight tang that sits subtly below the other flavours in sourdough is something I could rhapsodise about all day.
A few years ago my parents kindly brought me a book whilst on holiday in Alaska, all about sourdough. It even included a little sachet of dried starter to get me going. I was too scared to try it for fear of failure. I kept looking at it, and other bread books I had, and continually put it off, citing "not enough time" to maintain the starter, or "it's too cold" or in fact mostly "but what if it doesn't work, or dies?"
Then for Christmas N bought me the River Cottage Bread Book, and I decided I could put it off no longer. The new house has marked the beginning of many new adventures, why not add sourdough to it?
So I did! It turns out that with a little persistence, and a lot of reading up and bowing to other people's experience, plus a tiny dash of trusting your instincts, and you can have beautiful sourdough. No, really...look!
I can't tell you how proud I was when I pulled this loaf from the oven. It had taken bloody ages (if you're following the River Cottage recipe you prove the bread for four hour-long sessions, before a final two-three hour rise!), but is definitely worth it.
And, it being me, I couldn't help but immediately start experimenting. Last weekend we had this for breakfast:
A sourdough fruit loaf! I can't wait to get going on experiments with sourdough hot cross buns!
I can't really offer a sourdough recipe here, as I'm basically following word for word what the books says...but I'm hoping to have the fruit bread and hot cross bun recipes ready in a little while, in both sourdough and dried yeast versions. (This is all assuming I continue to keep Stan II alive of course!)
Right now I'm off to drink some coffee and revel in the first day of spring and the glorious sunshine that is streaming through the open - yes, actually open to let air through - windows, before heading into the garden to plant some onions. I hope you're all having great weekends too.