How to make the best sourdough bread from scratch
Tivoli Road Bakery’s tips and tricks for baking sourdough bread (and why you should).
In World War II they dug for victory. In the coronavirus era we’re baking for boredom – and rediscovering some old-fashioned magic in the process.
“I made my first loaf of sourdough just for something to do, but it’s come to be a lovely soothing ritual,” says Olivia Hill-Douglas, a television producer who, like most of the nation, is now working mostly from home. “The smell of freshly baked bread is amazing, and it’s so gratifying when you take it out of the oven and see that it’s worked properly. It’s just a fun solitary occupation, and you get breakfast in the process.”
It’s never been more important to have a hobby, and baking bread is leavening life under lockdown, literally and metaphorically. Social media feeds are clogged with artful close-ups of burnished loaves fresh from the oven, and mixing, shaping and baking have become credible topics for Houseparty catch-ups.
You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to interpret the self-sufficiency of baking as a way of reclaiming some control in uncertain and worrying times. Making your own bread is mindfulness in action. The comfort of carbohydrates plays a crucial role in the brain’s feel-good chemistry (it’s why we crave things like bread and pasta during times of stress). Even the weight-conscious – to whom carbs are normally verboten – are indulging in the simple delights of bread and butter, safe in the sartorial comforts of their work-from-home loungewear.
“One of the few good things to come out of the coronavirus is the new enthusiasm for baking,” says Michael James, who founded Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra and recently launched the bakery at Daylesford’s Dairy Flat Farm. “People finally have the time and patience to learn the skill for themselves.”