I lived in the south of France every holiday since I was nine. Every day I would run round the corner and buy the sourdough bread from the village bakery.
By the time I was eleven years old the smell of the first batch would waft through the pigeon holes in the roof where my bedroom was every morning. I would listen to the bells from the church to ring four and creep downstairs. The smell of the smoke mingled with the baked bread on the cold air was magic. I would charge down the alleyway in the dark to a floury warm bakery where I would help make the bread, eat hot croissant and drink sweet dark coffee.
As a teenager worked in the bakery full time for a summer aged 17 and, a year later, went on to work in another bakery in the local town. As I got to about 19 years old I was busy at university and didn't go to France for several years...
As I went to university my health deteriorated. I have a virus and had dreadful fatigue and tiredness. I discovered that I couldn’t eat bread. It bloated me and left me exhausted. So for years I avoided bread.
Just 4 years ago I went back to stay in France. I woke in my bedroom to the smell of bread. I was a child again and the wood smoke and fresh baked bred drew me like the pied piper's song to the bakery doors. It was irresistible and before I knew it I was in the bakery spreading butter over warm crusty sourdough and sinking my teeth in. Oh, familiar joy! The crunch of the crust and the yield of the soft bouncy inner. Exquisite. I didn't give a fig. There was me.. and the bread - and that was all there was to the world.
I waited for the inevitable symptoms, but they didn’t come. As it turns out I am not intolerant of bread. I am intolerant to either commercial yeast or one of many enzymes or additives in commercial bread.
When I got back to daily life I’ve only ever bought sourdough. It’s not cheap I’d been buying this sourdough weekly at £3.85 until I came across a book by Dan Lepard called the Handmade loaf. My sister recommended that I read Dan’s column in the Guardian and I a huge fan of his recipes.
I followed the instructions and made my sourdough using plain bread flour, and my utter delight they turned out beautifully. So the cost of the flour is currently about £1.50 for a bag .. and even less of you go for a supermarket own brand.
Now My bread costs me just 35p What a saving!