When Jon and Gina Hutton go on holidays – the rare times they manage, that is – their mother comes along too. And before you start thinking what a noble, family-minded couple they are, let me hasten to explain that the mother in question is their starter dough, the ‘essence’ of all that glorious wood-fired bread they’ve been selling at farmers’ markets and elsewhere for over a decade.
I love their breads, the ancient grain ones like spelt and Khorasan, the sweet ones like fruit and pecan, but especially I love their ryes, the heft and solidity of them, their wonderful toastability, the hint of fennel. They do a dark one and a ‘lite’ one and it turns out the latter is both their favourite. ‘The rye’, Gina tells me, ‘gives a nice sour tang but we use white flour in the mix to give it a lighter crumb.’
I want to know all about it: how you begin to make your own sourdough. It was something, at the height of Covid, that suddenly everyone wanted to do. Yet, ‘making sourdough isn’t for everybody’, Gina says. ‘It is time-consuming and demands consistent care.’
So, starting with the starter, or mother? Simply mix 200 grams of unchlorinated water with 100 grams of the type of flour you prefer for your bread – white, wholemeal or whatever. Mix the two to form a wet batter and leave in a warm place, covered loosely, for two days. Bubbles will form. Throw out half then feed again, this time making the mix a little thicker, 200 grams flour to 200 grams water, and continue this throwing-out-half and feeding for a week, leaving at least eight hours between each feed. ‘Once your mother is risen and full of bubbles, you are ready to use her’, says Gina. I might try!
Crabbes Creek Woodfired is at New Brighton every Tuesday from 8 – 11am and Mullumbimby every Friday from 7 – 11am