Sunday, 16 September 2012


Berwick by wayward passion
As I write I am half way through a holiday in Berwick- upon-tweed. We have been coming back to the North East for the past five years. On our first visit we arrived at the start of the Berwick food and drink festival. Among the fine ales there was a bread stall selling sourdough breads. This sowed the seeds for me to eventually bake my own bread. Okay, it was a long gestation period but I am now making up for lost time.

The weather has been okay and on the sunny if blustery days we have headed for the beach, the walk from Bramburgh castle to Seahouses a particular favourite with a bag of chips tasting mighty fine at the end. 

Although on holiday I am still baking bread. Sue's eyes rolled when I said I was packing some of my starter, however, the resultant bread has been great. Last week I baked a malted flour sourdough - one large 4 lb loaf shaped in a mixing bowl and floured tea towel. Not the best loaf ever, but tasty. 

Sue asked for a plain white loaf this weekend. As we were going to be out much of the day time I thought I would have a play. Day one I took the starter out of the fridge and put a couple of spoonfuls into a cup of flour and a cup of water. By the evening it was bubbling well. I made a sponge with haf the flour and all the water plus a big dollop of the starter. (500g flour; 650g water)

Day two: I added 600g flour and 20g salt and mixed it up and then kneeded it on a well oiled surface for five minutes. I then put it back in a clean oiled bowl and placed it in the fridge. We went out for the day and about 11 pm I took it out of the fridge, shaped it into a boule and then put it back into an improvised banneton (bowl and floured tea towel) and then back in the fridge.

In the morning, Sue gets up and makes coffee and turns on the oven. Put on max and using a grill pan as a baking tray the loaf is slashed and sprayed and put in the hot oven for 15 minutes. I then turn it down to 180C, well... I turn the dial down... Who knows the actual temp, and give it half an hour more. 

The loaf comes out large and mis-shapen and when I slice it it shows large a wonderful crumb with large holes. Tastes great for brunch. Probably the best white loaf I have made. I will add photos at a later date.
Not perfect but with with local cheeses, pickles and a green salad this is a wonderful, simple meal.


  1. I love the idea of bringing starter on the road, and especially the idea of fresh bread along with a good hike on the beach. Does one have to worry about starter overheating, I wonder, on a car trip? I could see bringing my rye starter on the road with me next summer...

  2. our journey was a mere 5 hours... i just added more flour to get a thick dough and placed it in a tupperware box. then just dliuted it down on getting to the cottage and feeding as normal. no problem. fresh bread on holiday was great! Do take it with you!

  3. I take my starter to southern Italy from the UK, a three-day car journey, and it doesn't seem to have ever suffered any ill effects. Adding a few (un-oiled)raisins and/or a teaspoon of whole yoghurt with the usual 1:1 flour and water feed on arrival seems to boost activity, but it could just be wishful thinking on my part.

    If I recall correctly, Geraint transported a de-hydrated version of a starter to northern Italy from the UK a few years ago and it survived. It was re-hydrated, I think... (How did you do that, Geraint?) He also made a very memorable delicious Italian bread pudding with our leftover bread.

  4. No, these starters seem pretty hardy especially if you dehydrate or add a lot of flour. Bread always tastes better on holiday... or is it that you are just more mindful of how good it is when more relaxed?!