It has been a very taxing week in my day job, which has been knackering, yet  slaving over steaming stocks and rich risottos in a very hot kitchen in Twickenham has been a perfect antidote. We have gone savoury this week, and for dinner I have been eating soups, risottos, ballotine of chicken, salads and just a tiny bit of steamed pudding. I am quite glad for the change away from sweet pastries, seeing as we have to try the efforts of all our classmates, a dinner made up entirely of custard tart can often lead to a moment of self loathing at Clapham Junction later that evening.

I’ve always preferred cooking main courses and savoury things to baking and confectionary. Partly because I just don’t have a sweet tooth, but partly because I am a bit of a control freak. I don’t really enjoy putting something in the oven and just wishing it luck while the egg timer runs down and I have to fight the uncontrollable urge to keep opening the door.  No, if I make a mistake I don’t want to have to wait an hour to find out and I also want at least one opportunity to rectify it. Besides, I really enjoy standing over the hob tasting and tweaking. Fortunately TOMW has always enjoyed baking, and her most recent project has been to master the dark arts of sourdough and I am very happy to report that I think she’s done it.

For those of you that have not been taken to a dark cavern somewhere below Sloane Square by a sourdough master and taught how to handle the mythical beast, the making of sourdough is not like other breads. The process begins by making up a ‘starter’. This is a live yeasty gloop that needs to age, and is what you use to start the dough. The starter is kept and repeatedly topped up, so you can use the same starter for all your sourdough for years to come – a bit like taking cuttings off the same plant. TOMW got given her starter, so I think it is already 6 months old. It is currently sat in our fridge in a tupperware container, fizzing and belching. TOMW has called it ‘Susan’:

and this is Son of Susan:

Café Waltshaw will bake all its own bread from scratch, so we are expecting quite a lot from Susan and her offspring, but in the meantime we are going to give up supermarket bread at home and only eat our own, or from a proper bakery. I recently read a report by the Campaign for Real Bread called Are Supermarket Bloomers Pants?  And, it turns out, that nearly all supermarket in-house ‘bakeries’ aren’t bakeries at all but just glorified tanning salons for preservative-laced pre-made loaves.

No thanks, we’re Team Susan.