Friday 19 October 2018

Indy Power discovers the secret to making the perfect sourdough

Indy Power

This destination on my SEAT road trip was one I’m very familiar with, Greystones in Co. Wicklow. I was there to visit Padraic and Simon Donnelly, the father and son duo behind The Baker’s Table, a charming bakery and café on the seafront.

They took over the business about a year ago, and Simon has spent (almost) every day since making fresh bread and pastries in the back.

I’m a devout sourdough lover- I think of it as bread with benefits. It’s incredibly delicious and wins out on taste alone but it’s also full of beneficial bacteria that makes it great for our gut and easy on our digestion. The key is in the ‘starter’ which is a mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment naturally.

The starter is added to more flour and water and allowed to ‘proof’ over 24 hours. This wild yeast fermentation is what gives the bread it’s beautiful rise and gorgeous sour taste and it’s this beneficial bacteria that make it so special. Sourdough contains lactobacillus, which means higher lactic acid production that increases digestibility, promotes healthy gut bacteria and allows for more mineral absorption.

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I’ve loved sourdough for years and long praised it’s health benefits but I’ve always been a bit mystified at the thought of making it myself. It’s not necessarily a hard process but it is long and does require commitment. It was amazing to see Simon in action, he does this every day so it looked more like a reflex than an effort to watch him prep his loaves. As a rookie, I only subjected one poor section of dough to my untrained hands but it was all I needed to get past that first step and start trying at home.

The best thing about a sourdough starter is that once you have one, you’ll have it forever- as long as you keep it alive. It is quite literally living (bacteria) so you have to feed it and look after it. Simon kindly gave me a jar of his starter to take home and nurture and I’ve been religiously caring for it since. I’ve made many a loaf in the few weeks since my visit to Greystones, some more successful than others, and once you get in the swing of things it’s such a lovely ritual. My husband certainly isn’t complaining about the fresh bread either.

The Baker’s Table has the most welcoming vibe and they’re passion for real bread, good food and community make it a must try for anyone in the area. And who knows, you might even be able to convince Simon to part with some starter to call your own.

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