The Controversial Soda Bread
If you have been on Facebook or Instagram of late, you may have noticed ads for the farm popping up as you scroll. After the heady heights of being a flour magnate (and with the realisation about how much income we've lost and continue to lose due to COVID), we decided to try actually marketing the business. You see, we've always been in the very privileged position of being able to grow our business with just word of mouth...and lets face it there isn't a ton of strategy needed when your main earner involves cuddling baby goats.
However, the farm needs to pivot in this new world order and I am working hard to learn all about marketing and ads and emails and The Things People Who Run Online Businesses Should Know About. So I am taking a course (which is great, btw). We took some advice to try posting a recipe. I edited a cute video of our Sourdough Soda Bread and posted it with a link to the recipe. I thought it was a nice thing- something different, something for when you don't want to make sourdough, or forgot to feed your starter, or just forgot to make bread.
Oh, Goldin, how naive you are.
You see, I'd completely forgotten about when I first tried to get into sourdough baking. I'd been given a starter from a friend, along with her 53 point instructions on how to make a loaf of bread. In summary, it involved precise timings, multiple temperature takings and a PH strip. Feeling like I'd taken on more than I could handle (with 3 children under 4 at the time), I hit the internet and found a world of people who were VERY into their bread and precision seemed to be the name of the game - multi-step recipes and starters that seemed to be more temperamental than the 2 year old toddler didn't sound like my idea of a fun new hobby. So I left the starter to die and didn't pick it up until years later when I figured out that there had to be an easier way. You know the rest of the story.
There are lots of people out there to tell you how to make technically perfect sourdough bread. I follow and admire many of them. I get tips and techniques that have improved my bread baking. But the truth is, I would rather have a loaf of bread than getting hung up in the technicalities. I don't have the time, energy or interest to make bread that involves anything other than the most basic of attention.
So, when I posted our soda bread recipe, I had forgotten that many many people are passionate about that technical, "purist" form of sourdough. "Sourdough should only have 3 ingredients - flour, salt and water" "I don't understand the point of this." "It isn't real sourdough - if you add anything else its not different from shop bought" "Why would your starter be unfed - you need to feed it every day".
I am not saying that those folks are wrong. In fact it is probably the opposite-- I bet their sourdough is a lot better than mine. But, I am not trying to make or teach the most technically perfect loaf of bread. I am not trying to start the next big renowned sourdough bakery. I am not aiming for a cobweb crumb or testing the limits of hydration.
I am just trying to get bread on the table, in amongst a busy life that includes forgetting to think ahead to make bread and frequently neglecting my starter...but all the same still getting good food into humans big and small when they need it.
In the end, I took the ad down. While it hadn't generated the sales I had hoped it would, it was a good reminder that I really believe that the best loaf of bread you can make is the one you actually do.
So here is to baking, whatever that looks like!!
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