Sourdough, or Why I Might Never Be A Mother

Since I (inaccurately) consider myself to live in the countryside and have visions of being some kind of sustainable-living Barbara Good-type person, I decided it was high time I started making my own bread.

“Oh but Nicola”, I hear you cry, “Isn’t that a bit of a leap after only two weeks of using your oven? After all, making bread can be complicated and new ovens are unpredictable.”

To that, I say

a) How dare you? I run my half-kitchen, half-living-room like a well-oiled machine. In that everything is already a tiny bit greasy and I’m not sure how.

b) I already know that making bread is complicated because I used to watch this little-known, art-house TV show about the trials and tribulations of a group of bakers held captive in a tent. “The Great British Bake Off”, it was called. You’ve probably never heard of it.

c) Please do not think I’ve been using my oven the full two weeks I’ve been in my flat. I would guess I’ve used it a maximum of five times. Who cooks things in an oven any more? All I know is it makes things get hot when I ask it to.

d) With this in mind, IT WAS SOURDOUGH TIME, BITCH. Because if you can’t make the most labour-intensive of all the breads right out of the gate, then what is the point of anything?

Luckily, I had recently acquired a jar that would be suitable for a starter, because I went to Trago looking for a single pair of rubber gloves and accidents happen. I found a recipe, and I set to work. I mixed my flour and my water. Then I sat on the sofa with a glass of wine and congratulated myself on my domesticity, while what was essentially wallpaper paste solidified on a spoon in the sink, never to come off again.

After a day, I had bubbles. After two days, I had more bubbles, and more starter, because you have to keep adding to it. After three days, it was well and truly alive, and reeking like a good’un. According to the internet that’s whats supposed to happen. After four days, Clive was a force of nature. He had also been named ‘Clive’.

At that point I thought I’d probably better scroll further down my recipe to find out how I could start to use Clive to make free food.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that this life I created needed regular feeding or it would die and become nothing more than wallpaper paste in a jar. I mean, I knew Clive needed an occasional top-up, but the thing I made to get free yeast is officially going to cost more in flour than I ever realised. My brand of artisan bread had better be bloody worth it.

While we’re here it’s also worth confirming the obvious. Yes, I created life and was immediately dismayed to find out that it was going to take work and money to keep it alive. This speaks volumes about my parenting potential, and we all know it. It’s also probably a good job that my landlord doesn’t allow pets. For the pets, that is.

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