For over 5000 years, people have brought together flour and water, waited for the mixture to ferment and used the resulting gases as leavening to make dough rise. A sourdough loaf has the gravitas of an ancient oak with the flavour depth of aged bourbon.
Over time, its conserved culture matures like a good red, but it never spoils. The process of making sourdough represents a centuries old technology of preserving yeast and bacteria for long periods of time.With its sharp acidulated tang brought out by lactobacilli and thick, chewy texture, sourdough presents a complex and hearty eating alternative to the mass produced bread so prevalent in our daily diets.
We recently travelled to the village of Chipping Sodbury to converse with Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery about the process he goes through when making sourdough. From the age of four Tom Herbert has been making bread. Flour is in his blood. When he talks about breadmaking, and the heat and energy that drew him to work for the family bakery, his rugged features take on a boyish glee.
Late in the morning, his dad Trevor joined us to add his opinion to the conversation. It was interesting to see father and son standing together, a passionate glint in their eyes, discussing the key steps to making a good sour dough loaf.