Video: Zen and the Art of Sourdough

There is something tribal about the process of making sourdough. Taking just two ingredients, adding heat, and creating something uniquely tasty, somewhat healthy, and with a soul of its own. No matter whose sourdough you try it will always taste different and will be entirely unique. I started with some help from a friend whilst following the recipe in the infamous Tartine by Chad Robertson. I’m grateful for having had someone to guide me as the process is difficult to conceive via text and images. 

“The baker’s skill in managing fermentation, not the type of oven used, is what makes good bread.” – Chad Robertson

There is something calming and symbiotic about the hands-on process of mixing and folding of the dough. If you neglect it or don’t immerse yourself fully in the ritual it will let you know. If you have something else on your mind, it’s easy to forget to add an ingredient or skip a step. If you’re not present and nurturing you might end up with a flat, or bland loaf. 

The beauty of sourdough is even if you follow the recipe exactly the outcome will always have your unique representation. If you wish to develop your own technique, the key is to deviate by small amounts and take your time. Make it your own by using altered ratios, cooking temperature, and feeding your starter different grains. Remain nurturing, not too gentle, not too forceful.

“Sourdough is basically an edible Tamagotchi.” – Meik Wiking

What I enjoy most about making sourdough is the community. No, not those eccentrics online debating the most minute details of the process, but the community you can share your unique loaf with, when finally (after HOURS of prep), it comes out of the oven. To be honest, I don’t even eat that much of it anymore, but I do find great pleasure in sharing it with friends or creating new ones by gifting the fruits of my labour, that little yeasty baked piece of me (I mean technically it is, the starter grew from the bacteria on my finger whilst mixing it for the first time all those months ago…).

“People who give freely from the heart and soul know that the Universe is full of abundance and sharing and giving is a part of connecting with other souls on Earth.” – Nozer Kanga