I’ve been meaning to get around to baking my own bread by hand for a good long while now. I’ve no excuse for not doing so before really: I get plenty of free time on the weekend and it’s not actually all that difficult.

In the cooking section on the bookshelves we have a copy of Bread which I can highly recommend. It’s full of information and an amazing assortment of breads from all around the world.

Perhaps partly inspired by the arrival of Herman in the office, I decided to make a sourdough loaf. I’m led to believe that the starter involved improves with age and some even become treasured family heirlooms!

The other weekend I made my starter from some yeasted tepid water and flour in a kilner jar and covered it with a tea towel. Within 30 minutes I’d realised my first mistake: my jar was nowhere near large enough and the mixture had expanded a lot. Thankfully my surfaces and towel were all clean and I managed to scoop the eruption into a spare jar and decant some of the mixture from the first jar to join in — effectively splitting the mixture into two. Even then this was only just enough to contain everything!

A starter takes a little bit of looking after but if I can’t even remember to stir something twice a day then I reckon there’s probably not much hope for me as a father!

Five days later my starter was ready to use but I also needed to make a little dough to help leaven the bread before getting properly underway. This is where my second mistake came in. There’s quite a bit of time involved in the various stages of rising, knocking back, resting and proving but for the vast majority of it you’re quite passive and can go and do something else for an hour or so. It all adds up though and I took my first loaf out of the oven at quarter past midnight. Still, it was worth the wait and tasted really nice!

I plan on trying to keep replenishing my starter and keep using a piece of the previous batch of dough to bake a loaf per week. I worked out that the cost of the ingredients for each loaf and it comes to under 30p.

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