Q.    Why does my bread vary a bit in appearance?

A.    Making sourdough bread is a natural process that varies with many things and especially ambient temperature. As much as we try to provide a consistent product there will naturally be some variations depending especially on the weather. Rye containing bread and bread with sugar containing ingredients like honey, molasses or fruit is particularly sensitive to variations in temperature as these ingredients also speed up the fermentation process.

That having been said, if you receive a loaf that you are really not happy with, we will give you a credit or a replacement on another day.

Q.    What is sourdough bread?

A.    Sourdough bread is bread leavened using the yeasts and bacteria that naturally occur in the flour and environment. These include a variety of yeasts and lactic and acetic acid producing bacteria. These microorganisms convert the carbohydrates in the flour into carbon dioxide, which make the bread rise, and lactic and acetic acid, which give sourdough its distinctive taste. Most bread bought off the shelf in a supermarket and in many bakeries is leavened using commercial yeast, which is a monoculture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

We do not use commercial yeast or other commercial additives in our sourdough bread. Our croissants and pastries use a combination of sourdough culture and commercial yeast.

Q.  How do you make a sourdough starter?

A. A sourdough starter is a basically a fermented mix of flour and water. The fermentation process occurs naturally through growth of the wild yeasts and bacteria present in the flour and the environment.

The simplest version of a sourdough starter, and I think the most effective, is to mix equal parts (by weight) of flour (preferably organic and about 25% wholewheat) and water (preferably spring) kept at room temperature (18-21degC) and ‘fed’ daily for about 3 weeks. The Tawonga Baker starter began this way in our farm kitchen in March 2019.

Some sources suggest using rye flour, or adding organic sultanas, but my view is to keep it simple. It seems inherently logical that the closer your starter and the bugs in it are to the final dough mix the better your dough is likely to rise.

If you want to make rye bread though, a rye starter is obviously the way to go. Rye ferments faster than wheat flour, and you can have an active starter ready for baking after about 10 days.


Q.  How do I store my bread?

A. Sourdough bread is always best on the day it is baked. This just has to be said before talking storage.

The day you buy it, store it cut side down on a clean chopping board.

You can keep it for a few days wrapped in the brown greaseproof paper it comes in, or in a beeswax or similar wrap. Essentially keeping the moisture in will stop it getting too dry and tough, though at the expense of a crunchy crust. You can also store it in a plastic container. Keep it in the fridge if your house is especially warm - this will improve keeping qualities. Sourdough bread also freezes well.


Q. Is sourdough healthier than regular bread?

A.    Some people find bread made with commercial yeast and bread additives causes them to experience gut pain and bloating. For them sourdough may be a healthier option. It is thought this is because traditional sourdough processing reduces the FODMAP content of bread via natural fermentation. Any sourdough, spelt sourdough in particular, is a good option for people who love bread but want to reduce the FODMAP content of their diet.
Monash University’s FODMAP website has excellent information and resources on this topic. In particular see https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/sourdough-processing-fodmaps/

Tawonga Baker is currently testing recipes hoping to add a spelt sourdough to the menu.


Q. Do you have a gluten free option?

A. No unfortunately not. We appreciate the serious nature of coeliac disease and can’t guarantee that we could maintain a production process completely free from gluten containing ingredients.