Share the sourdough love

olive oil bread Dan Lepard foccacio sunshine

Lets hear it one more time for this Dan Lepard recipe!

We had fun today. It’s so good to bake with a friend! And as an added bonus the sun came out this afternoon, look how it transforms the bread!

Jeffrey Hamelman Vermont Sourdough

First time sourdough!

We made Jeffrey Hamelman’s sourdough;  the Vermont with the increased grain and we made Dan Lepard’s olive oil bread (a version of this here) only this time we followed the recipe from the Handmade Loaf exactly down to the last gram of malt and it was perfect. Maybe the best I’ve ever tasted, which I put down to my friend’s elegant stretch and fold technique and her gentle final dimpling. We chopped up some garden rosemary and threw that on the top together with some Cornish sea salt.

Dan Lepard's olive oil bread focaccio

Light as air and fragrant with olive oil and rosemary

As none of it was ready by midday we had to defrost a loaf of bread for lunch and hunt out some soup too: but as this was a loaf of Cheese Bread made with fine Glastonbury Cheddar from Gloucester’s farmers’ market and the soup was our take on this great Christmas Lima bean and celery recipe we didn’t suffer too much.

Showing someone what you do in the privacy of your own kitchen there’s always that moment of self-doubt, well several quite often….Will the starter work, will it do what it should do, will the dough stick coming out of the banneton, will it rise, will the slashes open? And all the time, you’re answering questions, I’ve never known an activity for generating so many questions. It’s amazing that the bread gets made at all.

Boules of sourdough springing in the oven

But this time it worked fine.  Happiness all round. I don’t know any other cooking activity that makes me feel this good. I love the quirky lively Chi-full shapes of the bread. I would recommend bread baking to anyone for sheer happiness. Find a friend, insist on baking with them, share the bread love.

Vermont sourdough, olive oil foccacio

Who says you can’t make fab sourdough first time?

26 thoughts on “Share the sourdough love

  1. bagnidilucca

    That bread looks absolutely bloody wonderful! I made pesto today, with a mortar and pestle, what fun! I love doing stuff too. I also painted the bedroom wall and signed a contract to start building a house in the moutains.

  2. heidi

    I agree! Some of my best classes have been in the making and baking of bread!
    Great pictures- great recipes= great fun.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I figured that if one was less than perfect the other would step up to the mark. That flatbread is a star as a showcase for what a sourdough can do. I still feel a little afterglow of happiness ;)

  3. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Joanna they look perfect. Was your friend happy with their first sourdough?
    A lovely way to spend a day.
    I was gifted ‘Dan the Man’s book on the weekend by a good friend. The same friend who I had hastily scribbled first time instructions on a post it note for her first time making sourdough…. I think your friend got the better deal!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      She did brilliantly ! I think she is going to be the next hot baker in town, Monsieur Bertinet watch out….

      Now you’ve got that book, that wonderful book, lucky you! My one tip, if you make the olive oil bread, put parchment in the tin you bake it in, don’t bake it straight onto the tin, if it’s anything like my Mermaid anodized ones it will stick. Don’t ask me why but it does.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thank you Ulrike – that focaccio was the best we’ve made in a long time – I think we left it a bit longer to prove on the tray this time (while we were eating lunch).

  4. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I wish I lived close enough so you could give me baking lessons! I want to learn to make gorgeous precision slashes and perfectly formed loaves too! But I’d be happy to just spend time in your kitchen, watching you bake.. xxx

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Weren’t her slashes brilliant? She doesn’t read the blog, so she won’t see these comments unless I drag her over. Celia you’re very sweet, I don’t think I can teach you much about baking bread ;) On the other hand I do wish you were here to supervise me making bundt cakes for my sister for Sunday….

  5. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours

    Beautiful breads! Iwish my oven were clean enough to photograph through the door!

    I was lucky enough to get a day’s course at Waitrose Cookery School making bread a few weeks ago, and had to unlearn a fair few things. Must get my sleeves rolled up and stuck in!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks for visiting me back Helen! I saw that Waitrose does courses, what sort of things do they teach you? I would love to do a few more – but you learn so much from other people baking. Check out Bethesdabakin5 if you want a weekend immersed in bread making with lots of enthusiasts, Mick is hosting one this July!

  6. Melanie Corley

    What a beautiful focaccia!!! I am so glad that everything worked out so perfectly. I bet your friend was overwhelmed with info, but just bursting at the seams with happiness at what she had created. I too wish I could come over for a bread baking lesson:) Did she get some starter to take home? All the recipes here take starter:(
    Grrrrrr. I love watching the loaves thru the oven window to see how high they will spring. The sourdough loaves are gorgeous as well!!! Good job!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Melanie, you say such lovely things :)

      Yes she got starter to take home…. I think you should just have a bash at making that starter this weekend. Think of it like learning to drive, most people get there, in their own way and their own time…we won’t talk about how long it took me (giggles). Paul has a really good method written up on his blog which lots of American homebakers have used successfully. I would be tempted to try that one if I didn’t have a starter going at the moment. However I can write out the way I did it for you if you like. I used the method in Dan Lepard’s the Handmade Loaf the first time I made one. Just give it a go. Nothing to lose, or post on Mellow Bakers and see if there is someone in the same State who can post you some maybe? Use fresh flour if you can get it and I’ll be rooting for you.

  7. C

    What stunning breads Joanna – I wish that my first sourdough had looked so beautiful, but then I’m sure it would have done with you as a teacher. If only I lived close enough to bake with you (and if you’d have me there!).

    Lovely photographs and it sounds like lovely memories of your day.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      My first sourdoughs weren’t like that of course. I showed Melanie the pics the other day, can’t remember if I have posted them here. They are on Mellow Bakers though if you want to see the mouse cathedral and the flying saucer… here they are.… Kind of puts it all in perspective doesn’t it? hehehehe

      the overproved mill loaves

      The ski slope aka mouse cathedral

      1. C

        Thank you for sharing those, I feel better about my attempts now, knowing that it can and will get better! I bet those were still pretty tasty though weren’t they!

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          To be honest, I almost gave up at that point… but I’m pleased I didn’t. I just went away and read and read, and did a day’s baking with Simon Michaels of Wild Yeast and later on a day with Dan Lepard in London, going back a couple of years now, and then fired up with enthusiasm just carried on. I read lots of blogs where people do similar things and unlike collecting stuff or other interests that involve travel and kit and so on, this one pares down to elegant simplicity, water, flour, salt and leaven and your hands, the passing of time, a cooking source…without wishing to romanticize the whole process… this is a love story :)

  8. Mariana

    What a positively rustic read your post has been. I take my hat off to you. Well done and I’m sure your friend felt the love. I’ve done the same thing with friends; baking cakes though. It really bonds people and I feel that I’m appreciated and that all my little bits of knowledge can be useful. I know you’ve probably heard it a hundred times before, but I wish I could bite into the computer screen and eat some of your amazing bread.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Mariana thanks for visiting me.

      I wish someone would teach me calm unflustered icing techniques, my icing is crapola. We should trade skills :) And no one has ever suggested biting the screen before, you’re the first, so thanks :D

  9. spiceandmore

    Oh that slashing! I wish I could get that sort of look to my breads….
    Thanks for the mouse cathedral picture, it gives the rest of us mere mortals hope that one day we too could maybe produce magnificent looking loaves!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      You can get that sort of look if it is your heart’s desire ;) dip the blade of your knife in water between each slash and it makes it a lot easier. I’ve only started doing that recently and it helps. Having said that if you are making very high hydration (doughs with lots of water) then the slashes tend to close up anyway however well you make them. It’s 50% luck, 50 % practice for mere mortal home bakers like me too. But thank you for the compliment!

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