So, needless to say, our preference was to make bread at home. The soft wheat found in Africa was never very inspiring for the enthusiastic bread maker, but our home baked bread was delicious, highly preferable to the alternative, and had that uniquely irresistible fragrance of fresh-baked loaves.
As I grew, my fascination with the prospect of making a perfect loaf was thwarted by the type of wheat available. I read everything I could find, but it took me years to realize soft wheat was never going to do it for me.
I read about rye flour. I longed to try some, and even wrote to the flour millers association, begging to find a source. Guess what? Only the commercial bakers could get it! So I stuck to what I was stuck with. But I still made my own bread.
Fast forward. We moved to Canada. I knew I was going to realize my dream. And there it was - in any supermarket, of all places! Bags of hard wheat, superb, best in the world flour; any type I cared to try.
It was so overwhelming I almost couldn't deal with this new reality. I experimented and baked, no matter where life took us. And now, without any effort, I was making perfect bread
Too long to go into this now, because it's complicated. Let me just say, if you see anything other than whole grain flour, yeast, salt, on the label, it doesn't meet the 'good bread' of my criteria.
Over the years I have come to realize that I feel bloated and unwell after eating commercial bread. I never really thought about it too much, just avoided it, never have a commercial bun with a hamburger - things like that.
Then I started noticing the new fad of 'gluten free'. It is at the stage of craziness now, as far as I am concerned. People even look at malt vinegar askance, as it is reported to have gluten in it.
I get it that people feel like I do when I eat commercial products. But why then would I be unaffected by my own bread? And those biblical people knew they were onto a good thing when their rough high-gluten bread sustained their lives.
Recently it seems more people have started to look at sourdough bread more seriously. There are a handful of studies on line, and all have found that people with gluten intolerance may eat sourdough bread without any problem.
I hasten to add - NOT the supermarket, commercial stuff. That is just sourdough flavoured, if you can believe that! It has to be artisan bread made with long fermentation. I believe further studies are on the way.
In keeping with modern life, I no longer have a bubbling jar of sourdough at the ready, feeding it, nurturing it, etc. No, I make a fresh batch of dough every couple of weeks, and it ferments and matures in the fridge.
I use my big stand mixer, and it usually takes about 5 minutes to mix the dough. I never knead it at all, just put it in its fridge container ( which I never wash!) and let it rise and develop that unmistakable, flavourful sourdough taste. It gets better and better, can be used as you want it, over a period of up to 10 days.
Any time I need bread, pizza, flatbread or any other yeast products, I simply take out the quantity I need, let it warm up and rise, then bake it. I always have lots to give away to neighbors as well. I can't believe how delighted they are! Great gifts too, in a decorated basket or baker's bag. And economical.
Want to get my beyond easy, basic sourdough bread for everyday use? Turn to my new page - just best recipes after loss. All recipes will be easy, minimum fuss and help you with cooking and keeping yourself healthy.
Next week: sourdough whole wheat!
Want to read more on the sourdough studies? Here are a couple of links: