A small crowd began to gather as word spread through Northiam. Eventually, I opened the door and went outside, carrying the breadboard with my perfect sourdough.
At first there was silence. Then there were sighs, a few mutterings of ‘beautiful’, ‘amazing’ and so on, and then the whole crowd burst into spontaneous applause. The noise attracted passing dog walkers, who wandered up the path and stood on tiptoe to see what the fuss was about, then stood awkwardly at the back, unsure how to demonstrate their appreciation.
Their dogs, however, were not bread lovers and there was an awkward moment between a dachshund and a terrier.
I spoke to the crowd, thanking them for their interest and, eventually, explaining my recipe and process.
The bread has 350g Very Strong White (Waitrose, Canadian) and 50g of Dove’s KAMUT® Khorasan Grain, which were autolysed with 250g of water for four hours. Then 200g of sourdough starter were added, 8g of salt and 50g of Very Strong Wholemeal (Allison). The stretched and folded dough was left in a covered bowl overnight for eight hours.
The next day, the dough was shaped with a generous addition of Very Strong Wholemeal and proved in a large loaf tin lined with a napkin for five hours.
The loaf was turned out onto baking parchment, slashed and sprayed, then placed in a 250 degree oven, resprayed twice in ten minutes, then the temperature was decreased to 220 degrees. The bread was ready after 29 minutes.
This is what I wanted: this crust, this crumb, this flavour.
My taster, Bailey, described this as my best bread ever and has requested 9,000 loaves.