Five Sourdough Journeys

Baking sourdough bread is one of the most fascinating activities during which flour, water and salt are transformed into the most delicious bread and instagram plays a role of a connector, which gives a chance to observe a daily journey of sourdough bakers all round the world. Read 5 short stories of 5 sourdough bakers from Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Slovenia and Portugal. 

Katrya

Katrya @seldonenko (Ukraine)

How long have you been a sourdough baker and what lead you to become one?

  • I have been baking sourdough for 9 years. When I was young I wanted to learn English, become a vegetarian and bake bread and Easter sweet bread like my granny and like my mother’s  Polish friends Bronislava.

Are there many artisan bakeries in your country?

  • Unfortunately in Ukraine the traditition of sourdough bread has been forgotten. I dont know any real artisan bakeries in my region . There are possibly some in other regions

Can you name bakers who were your inspiration to start baking sourdough bread?

  • Oh yes, certainly I had an inspiration in the very beginning: it was Lyuda -LJ blogger from Toronto, her user’s name – marianna_aga. She is an absolutely stunning person.

What tips would you give to a person who has just started to bake sourdough bread?

  • It is difficult to advise something. I might give just one tip: never give up baking! Despite mistakes and failures you should continue following your dream. Make you baking hobby-your obsession. Be passionate  about bread all the time.

What is the most common mistake while baking sourdough bread and how can it be avoided?

  • It is impossible to avoid mistakes. There aren’t any teachers or clever books in the world which could protect you. On the contrary don’t afraid to make a mistake. Negative experience is good. You’ll know bad ways to find the best one.

Özlem

Özlem @tatliatolyem (Turkey)

How long have you been a sourdough baker and what lead you to become one?

  • I have been baking sourdough bread almost for two years. I call this interest as a real bread journey. I started this journey to eat real bread and to make people taste it.

Are there many artisan bakeries in your country?

  • I learned sourdough with my online researches. At the beginning I was using different recipes from the internet, then I met Cafe Fernando, after that I started to try different techniques.

Can you name bakers who were your inspiration to start baking sourdough bread?

  • There is no name which i am inspired especially but I am mainly into Rusian rye bread.

What tips would you give to a person who has just started to bake sourdough bread

  • Lots of research and attempts bring exerience. I suggest everyone listen to their dough. I would like to warn people that it becomes an obsession. 🙂

What is the most common mistake while baking sourdough bread and how can it be avoided?

  • Biggest mistake is under-kneaded dough. Beside  skipping cold leaven causes a lack of understanding  the taste variety.

Zosia

Zosia Barto @zosia_barto (Poland)

How long have you been a sourdough baker and what lead you to become one?

  • Around 7 years ago I baked the first bread in my life. It was a yeasted bread, I’ve baked it because I didn’t have any bread at home and I was hungry Couple days after my first loaf, I baked a sourdough bread and it was a total disaster Luckily for me, I didn’t give up and now I have my own micro bakery. Around two years ago I’ve turned my hobby into my work and I’m still in love with sourdough bread

Are there many artisan bakeries in your country?

  • There is a long tradition of making sourdough rye bread in Poland, several years ago there were lots of artisan bakeries. Not many have left, a majority of them closed because of industrial bakeries. People prefer to buy cheap bread made from frozen dough than paying a little bit more for good quality bread. In Cracov, where I live, we have maybe 6 artisan bakeries.

Can you name bakers who were your inspiration to start baking sourdough bread?

  • Jeffrey Hamelman, Chad Robertson, Monika Walecka

What tips would you give to a person who has just started to bake sourdough bread

  • Don’t give up. Every failure is a lesson. Also, I’d recommend reading some books about sourdough to understand the whole process, that makes everything easier. For example, Bread by Hamelman is a really good one to get the basics.

What is the most common mistake while baking sourdough bread and how can it be avoided?

  • I don’t know what mistakes are most common among other bakers, but when I started my sourdough adventure I made a lot of errors. I have no idea which was the most common, but I think that answer is simple: observe your dough and make notes – it really helps.

Anita

Anita Sumer @sourdough_mania (Slovenia)

How long have you been a sourdough baker and what lead you to become one?

  • I’ve been baking exclusively with sourdough for .5 years. My husband had a gall bladder removal and wasn’t able to eat normal yeasted bread. Then I started to search for other options to bake homemade bread and came across sourdough and later wild yeast. Before sourdough, I haven’t baked bread at home, so this was my first venture into the bread baking world.

Are there many artisan bakeries in your country?

  • There aren’t that many, mostly fast commercial ones that don’t pay too much detail to the ingredients they use. A lot of bakeries are owned by Albanian people that produce a low quality fluffy white bread. Many stores also have their own prebaked programme. But artisan bakeries are very rare. I know only about 2 in our capital, Ljubljana, namely Art bread and Osem.

Can you name bakers who were your inspiration to start baking sourdough bread?

  • As many sourdough bakers, I bought Tartine book from Chad Robertson J soon to realise it won’t work with our weak flour that doesn’t soak up as much water as the American ones do. So I was again on my own, though when I started my sourdough bread quest, I got a lot of help from a Slovenian blogger Natasa Djuric. We shared and helped each other a lot during my earlier stages. Have to admit I miss this cooperation.

What tips would you give to a person who has just started to bake sourdough bread

  • Don’t get terrified by the procedure J take your time and you’ll master it! If your starter is bubbly and active, it will leaven your dough as well. If possible, use organic flour and non-chlorinated water.

What is the most common mistake while baking sourdough bread and how can it be avoided?

  • To quit before you nail it; even if your first loaves turn bricks, don’t give up and keep on baking! My first ones were flat and hard to eat but I didn’t end my sourdough quest. Check online resources, Instagram baking community, blogs for help, tips&tricks, more ideas, and inspiration.

Andreia

Andreia @andreia.earth (Portugal)

How long have you been a sourdough baker and what lead you to become one?

  • A couple of years ago I was gifted a food science book that had a chapter about bread. Even though there was little information about sourdough, it captivated my attention. By that time, the starter culture I had was neglected and my bread baking skills were definitely not the best. I got back to commercial yeast till October 2016. I’ve been baking sourdough bread for 7 months now but to be clear, I only started to bake proper bread in January. I had bad experiences with overproofed breadThat taught me a lot. Looking back, I’m glad I went trough that frustration! You get important lessons through bad events. Portuguese bakeries used to have pretty good bread but quickly they twisted their working ethics and replaced good wheat flour for the cheapest low quality wheat, reduced their working crew, started to to bake frozen dough…it’s a shame, honestly. I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel syndrome 7 years ago and this “modern bread” contributed for

    Abdominal pain, discomfort and unsuccessful disease management. Relevant scientific data bases have plenty of articles that confirm that sourdough bread helps to manage such diseases and improves vitamin and mineral bioavailability. Eating sourdough bread doesn’t cause me IBS crisis. Baking sourdough is a passion. It makes me feel extremely happy and soothes me. Microbiology will be forever a passion of mine. Keeping a starter makes me remember the good old days I spent in a lab.

    It’s a passion you feel and see trough people’s eyes. It’s hard to describe in words. I’ll keep baking and eating sourdough my whole life.

Are there many artisan bakeries in your country?

  • Honestly, I think artisan bakeries are scarce in my country. In a world ruled by economic and financial interests, honest business have hard times to strive. It’s cheaper for bakeries to use frozen bread dough, using more salt (to reduce the flour), have a smaller crew, etc.I believe most people forgot how amazing real bread tastes like! How great it is to hang out with a family and friends in the kitchen while the dough is in the oven, how amazing it feels to knead  the dough, smell the dough while it’s fermenting, feel the heat on your face while the bread is in the oven and you get delighted with the amazing transformation! I never found sourdough here and a lot of people don’t know it. Wish the bread business was more honest

Can you name bakers who were your inspiration to start baking sourdough bread?

  • Chad Robertson was the first sourdough baker I stumbled across online. There’s some inspiring, super creative and friendly sourdough bakers on Instagram. Diana (@fxmaman) helped me to bake consistent bakes and she pointed out what I was doing wrong. I have an eternal gratitude for all she has done to me. Anita Šumer (sourdough_mania) is a very creative and kind person. Her videos and tips definitely increased my knowledge. Katrin (@lillianday) is a passionate baker and Marguerite (@yuentien is also very talented. All these ladies were born with a natural talent for baking sourdough. They’re big inspirations and i always get a big smile on my face every time I see their bread.

What tips would you give to a person who has just started to bake sourdough bread

  • When I was completely inexperienced, I felt relieved with the amount of information on blogs, forums, etc. The lack of knowledge I had, made it difficult to understand the information provided by experienced bakers and so, I relied more on timings. Timings don’t matter, watching the dough is what really matters and is the key to success. Keeping a very happy starter is extremely important too. Get to know your culture and give it a lot of love. What I’m going to say is something personal

What is the most common mistake while baking sourdough bread and how can it be avoided?

  • Dear sourdough newbie, it’s normal to fail when you’re learning. Nobody is perfect and the fails can be frustrating but, that’s the only way to learn. Failing will give you knowledge you’ll remember and won’t fail again. Practice, have faith and find kind friends to help you in that process. Love what you bake no matter what and feel proud of yourself.
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