Baker of the week – Elaine Foodbod
Congratulations to elaine foodbod, our amazing sourdough baker of the week!
Where did your love and passion for bread baking begin?
To be honest, it was sparked with sourdough which I was first introduced to in 2013. I had made bread with commercial yeast before that, and enjoyed making them and the outcome, but they didn’t ignite a passion. That came with discovering sourdough, then it got interesting.
Have you always specialised in Sourdough or have you tried making other baked goods like cakes or pizza?
As I’ve cooked and baked in my kitchen I’ve made many and various baked goods along the way, like you do, but once I’d found sourdough, and more to the point, once my son tried some, that quickly became the only bread I made and the ‘specialising’ came from there. I needed to be able to bake several consistent loaves every week so my process developed from that need and hence it became my speciality. I soon realised that I had a simple, approachable, tidy way of making sourdough that people found useful, so I shared it online in case anyone wanted to check it out. There was never any great plan, I just began sharing and helping people as much as possible and it grew from there. My sourdough world was born.
What do you love most about baking sourdough?
I enjoy the whole process; I love feeding and bringing my starter, Star, to life and watching how she responds each time; I love seeing how the dough develops; I love turning out and scoring a lovely firm dough; and that moment when you lift the lid to reveal your baked loaf is a gift every time! There’s nothing I don’t love about it really.
Which part do you find the most challenging?
None of it! Not now anyway, I went through my learning period like everyone else, I baked some bricks and a few frisbees but once you understand the key part that flour plays, and room temperature, it all falls into place. That and the fact that it truly is simpler than most people think, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s complicated or full of endless processes, I’m here to reassure people that it truly isn’t.
Which utensils do you use when you’re baking? Do you have any preferred brands or tools?
The key items I use are:
- Bowls with fitted lids for my starter, so much easier to use than jars
- 23cm x 9cm mixing bowls
- Salter digital scales
- A beautiful wooden flour scoop made for me
- Shower caps
- Bannetons, wherever you can find them at the moment
- A room thermometer
- Handmade bread lames for scoring the dough, made by the Garlic Tun
- Falcon enamel roasters for baking the loaves
- Good strong bow saw bread knives, also from the Garlic Tun
- Bowl scrapers – invaluable!
Which type of flour do you prefer to use in your sourdough starter and your loaves and why?
I use Cotswold Flour Strong White Flour a lot! It’s got the ideal protein % and absorption for making sourdough, it works perfectly with my master recipe with no tweaks required. And my Star responds to it really well. It’s a perfect base flour.
From there, it’s a simple step to trying other flour in the mix, especially beautiful flour like Cotswold Flour Cotswold Crunch or Eight Grains flours.
These photos above show the first ever sourdough loaf made by Elaine.
If you could give some advice to someone making sourdough for the first time, what would it be?
Don’t read too much. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with all of the information out there and to then get confused. Choose one single source that you like, and stick with it whilst you learn. Once you’ve got to grips with how things work, then experiment.
And start with good strong white bread flour, it’s the best way to find success with sourdough and a perfect starting point. A good flour makes such a difference to how people’s sourdough journey begins and develops; a challenging flour that leads to difficult doughs can be really off putting.
What is an “ear” on bread?
An ‘ear’ occurs when the dough is scored in such a way that it lifts and creates a wave effect.
Do you do anything with your sourdough discard?
I manage my starter in such a way that I never have any discard or waste, it’s not a necessary part of the process for me.
We’ve seen you’ve recently had a book come out, tell us a bit more about that?
It’s very exciting! It’s out now, and has recently arrived in the UK. I never ever expected to have a book so it’s a really exciting time at the moment.
The book covers everything anyone would need to know, whether they’re brand new to sourdough, or a seasoned baker, taking them from how to make and maintain a starter, through to my master recipe in full detail, and then how to use whole grain and ancient/heritage grain flours, how to use them in starters, and then over 60 recipes using them in various ways, in loaves and bakes.
These flours add so much flavour and different textures to doughs and loaves, they are a joy to work with, which I hope people will enjoy.
Where can our Cotswold Flour Baking Club find your sourdough recipes and your baking community?
There’s lots of information on my website foodbodsourdough.com and even more in my book.
And finally, what’s coming in the pipeline?
There’s always new tips and recipes on the way, but for now, I’m just hoping that people like my first ever book.
Thank you for inviting me to answer your questions and to be your baker of the week
x Elaine x