Chris Gordon’s self-isolation cooking diary: Week 6

Chris Gordon is our events and programming manager extraordinaire, as well as our monthly food and gardening columnist. Here is the latest instalment of her self-isolation cooking diary.


What have I learned this week?

  • Making sourdough bread is not for the faint-hearted – even if you do live in the north.
  • If you haven’t attempted to make it, are you even in lockdown?
  • This process is not something that you can start and finish in one afternoon.
  • It will involve everyone in your household.
  • There is a science to it all.
  • You will talk about baking sourdough to anyone, literally anyone, that will listen.
  • It is mandatory to post a picture on social media of your creation.

So why, oh why, does this simple loaf create such a fuss? Well, there’s a craft to it and when done correctly, the result is fantastic.

The trick to sourdough is keeping it simple. And this is where Roly Allen’s How to Raise a Loaf (due for release in mid-May) will help. Think of this book as your new best friend – it will takes your hand and walk you, step-by-step, through the bread-making process, all the while gently whispering words of encouragement.

This soothing presence is important because you are certain to second-guess yourself at some point along the way. You will likely find yourself repeatedly revisiting the instructions, double-checking your jar of starter, closely examining your oven, thinking about the properties of dough, yogurt and your part in all… In short – you will become a chemist. I found the transformation kind of exhausting, but also exhilarating.

Some crucial points…

  • There will be a mess, so make sure to wear an apron.
  • You do not need any fancy equipment.
  • Keep your household pets away from the warm spots in your home where you have left your dough to rise…

How to Raise a Loaf is an ideal manual for beginners new to the craft of sourdough. The cookbook is simple, informative, contains a detailed troubleshooting section, and, most importantly, it is kind.

And news of my own loaf? It was a pretty solid contribution to my family meal time, and I’m sure I will get better. It will clearly takes some practice to create bubbles of lightness with a crisp crust. But at least I can now contribute to all the sourdough conversations that are happening throughout lockdown. I am not in isolation in my efforts to attain the perfect loaf.

How to Raise a Loaf

How to Raise a Loaf

Roly Allen

$24.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...