Row over what makes a sourdough loaf is fascinating

You may have been dreaming of a white Christmas or absorbed in the drama in Westminster over the past few months or any one of dozens of things that clutter the average headspace in a busy life.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 10:22 am
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 12:24 pm
Wayne Caddy, picture credit Jon Rogers, Createinn Ltd

In which case, you may have missed the row over what makes a sourdough loaf as opposed to what I would call a ‘sourfaux’ loaf; a fake sourdough bread.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap: a consortium of five trade bodies, including the British Sandwich and Food-to-Go Association, want the Government to introduce a new standard definition for sourdough bread, on the face of it, to improve consumer understanding of what sourdough actually is.

Sourdough has become more popular in recent years.

There is a heightened appetite to genuinely understand how food is produced and where it has come from.

Honestly and skilfully produced with flour, water, salt and naturally occurring live cultures, sourdough baking relies on expertise in fermentation and dedication from skilled bakers.

Long fermented, for at least 24 hours, and naturally leavened bread is easily digestible, nutritious and flavoursome.

The result is a tangy, soft but chewy texture very unlike its mass-produced counterparts which lack fermentation time but are rich in additives and shortcuts.

Typically, mass-produced bread has only 60 minutes of fermentation time.

At the School of Artisan Food, we believe this proposed code for sourdough is flawed. Adding yeast, processing aids, shortened fermentation times and additives is misleading and not aligned to the Real Bread Campaign.

This is now known as “Sour Faux”.

The proposed Code would legitimise a cheaper, fake version of the sourdough bread we teach our students to make here.

It seems to me that this Code is not, in fact, designed to improve understanding of sourdough amongst consumers but to confuse them by legitimising an inferior bread.

It’s designed for industrial bakers to produce something they can market as sourdough without putting in the time and hard work.

It’s not so very different from industrially produced food given ‘farm fresh’ labelling and other terms with no real meaning, or the invention of fake farm brand names like Woodside Farm for Tesco meat products.