Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Sourdough bread and the culture of sharing and learning

The local artisan baker taught my kids how to make sourdough bread and gave them a starter - a wonderful gift of knowledge and a valuable life-skill.

One evening, late last year, Maia and Hugh were peering through his ecovillage bakery window - Intrigued by the process and wanting to learn how their bread was made, he invited them to come back the following week to start learning how to make it. They did and today a few months later, my daughter taught me.

Les, the baker, prepares the most amazing organic, wood fired, sourdough breads and sells them from his Crystal Waters Bakery every Saturday morning. The bakery is at the centre of the wonderful community vibe that happens every Saturday morning at our village green. We're usually there - the kids meet and play with friends and Evan and I enjoy a coffee and catching up with our community.  

The Crystal Waters Bakery - organic, sourdough, wood-fired  and utterly delicious.

Maia and Hugh love their culture - the sourdough (and ecovillage) culture. Each day they look after their sourdough starter.  Hugh also loves to experiment with the surplus - such a curious being.

I'd always wanted to learn how to make sourdough bread too. The last time I tried making bread-making, it was of the yeasted kind and my body reacted with funny tingly feelings in my mouth and hands. I think it was some kind of allergic reaction - whatever it was, it has put me off bread making, and anything yeasted for a long time.

This morning, Maia taught me how to make the sourdough. She set up our bowls side by side, gave me some of her starter and carefully explained the process to me.  First I helped her to prepare a loaf, then she helped me.  Together we worked on our loaves throughout the morning and baked up some delicious bread.  We shared it with the rest of our family and our newly arrived Japanese WWOOFer - it went wonderfully with some cultured butter and a bowl of garden veggie soup.

Teaching others, even when you are a beginner is a great way to consolidate your learning.  Maia, I must say, was an excellent teacher - and she's only 9. It was obvious that she had listened so carefully when Les taught her. 

Thanks so much Les for being so generous with your time, your knowledge and for inspiring the kids!

My daughter set up our bowls side by side so she could teach me how to make sourdough bread.

A very hands-on approach - Maia prepares the starter.

We begin - the started goes in, leaving some in the container to make up the next starter.

I decided to add organic sunflower seeds to my loaf 

Ready to go in the oven.


  1. Oh I so badly want a photo of the finished bread! What a great post and what an inspirational community.
    It may be you're only using that plastic during the preparation stage but if not I'd like to recommend your kids keep their starter in a glass jar. Having something wet and fermenting in permanent contact with plastic could break it down. I know. I'm a complete paranoid when it comes to plastic.

    1. We were so excited to eat it, we forgot to take a picture before it all went. I'll take a pic of another loaf and update the page.
      Thanks for the plastic warning. She stores it in glass, but had been using plastic to mix. We do have a glass mixing bowl that would be better! We are really trying to get away from plastic as much as we can too.

  2. What a wonderful thing to be able to bake your own sourdough, and your daughter has the skill for life. Thanks to your local baker who was so generous with his time.

  3. Are u Will to share the recipe for the bread AND the recipe for the STARTER? Would love to make it so I could enjoy it too with my family also. Thank you for sharing

    1. Thanks for your message. I have asked my daughter to write up the recipe and we'll post this soon.