Sourdough bread starterWe couldn’t resist the bread pun in the title, sorry! Sourdough bread has been our 2016 baking adventure. That rather bland yet bubbly looking photo is something we’re actually rather proud of!

There has been much noise and some hype about the more positive digestion benefits of longer-fermented doughs like sourdough. So we thought it about time we gave it a try. We’re pretty pleased with how we’ve done so far. Your feedback has been very positive too, so thanks!

Fresh bread is a huge part of our food ethos. Like everything else at The Miller (food, drinks, bedrooms), our bread recipes evolve and the bread we serve changes from time to time as we develop new ideas and flavours.

Starter for ten

At the start of the year we were looking at how we could improve our bread offering. We did some investigation and grabbed some knowledge from one of our chefs, Gui. From there we set about getting a sourdough starter going. It took a couple of months to settle it down and get it under control but now we are happy with it. It has its own characteristics and develops with age. So we are seeing subtle changes every two weeks or so.

We’ve affectionately named our sourdough starter Mother. We feed her every three days and sometimes there is an unpredictable amount of time for it to rise. It tends to take a bit longer to rise after the first day. As we work quite strictly to recipes in the kitchen, this can throw the guys off course a little. They have to accept that this is a natural process and that there is an unpredictability to it.

Roll with it

Not everyone has jumped on the sourdough bandwagon, so we quite hear surprise in our customer feedback that we serve it as a small roll rather than a slice. The crusty crust of sourdough bread is probably one of its most recognisable traits. We bake ours high at 230 degree Celsius to assist with that. We flavour our rolls with black pepper and walnut. It adds a nuttiness and more than a touch of heat to the palate that’s calmed by our home churned butter.

Nick’s top tips for a sourdough bread starter

  1. Don’t be scared to give it a go; it’s a very simple process and just needs fairly constant loving.
  2. For the flour think about what taste you like to give you the required finish. We use rye and strong bread flour from Wessex Mill our flour people in Wantage.
  3. Make sure you have an airtight container and fridge space for constant storage.
  4. Buy good quality flour as this will only help develop further flavours.

Have you tried making your own sourdough at home?