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Sourdough French Toast + berry compote

May 21, 2020

When this is all over and we find out what our new normal looks like, what rituals from this time will you keep? Will you keep making sourdough bread? Will you keep up with that fitness routine that helped break up the day? Will you prioritise finding more time and making more time to do the quieter, slower things, discoveries from the time when going out wasn’t an option? 

Will you hold dear the feeling of home, and take it with you into the new?

This year has been a year of many things – lots of them glum and very, very real; but some of what we have taken from these experiences has been inspiring… we have learnt how resilient we are and that we can unite for the sake of the greater good, and for each other. We have learnt that we are capable, maybe more so than we thought. We are eager to give things a go; and we want to laugh and make each other laugh. We want to share what we know and learn new things. We want to find happiness with what we have, when happiness in the outside world feels scarce. 

We have learnt how to make our own luxuries out of every day things and every day moments. We’ve found satisfaction from doing funny dances and baking bread. We have found joy in our everyday. 

What will you take on with you, and make your new normal?

I’ve always wanted to bake sourdough, amongst other things. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, one of my answers was a baker. Being little (and also Libran) I couldn’t choose only one answer – I also wanted to be an artist and an architect – all those things all at the same time thank you, a well rounded creative life for me.

I’ve baked cakes for a long time – baking is definitely kind of magical, and I have always wanted to explore different recipes and give new things a go. Learning by doing is the way I like to roll, so the sourdough trend of 2020 feels all kinds of right to me. Baking is comfort in itself, the eating is an added bonus. 

My day-dreaming, weekend dreaming and holiday dreaming is often related to baking. My kind of relaxing is reading a cookbook, and the place I start planning a holiday? The bakery. I want to stay somewhere where the great bakeries are.

What?! You don’t plan your holidays around bakeries?! Well, I totally recommend it. Great bakeries are often in vibrant neighbourhoods filled with interesting people making interesting things and when visiting a new city that’s where I want to go, so that’s how I start my research – with the bakery. It gives you a starting place for your explorations (a morning visit to the bakery can double as time to plan the day ahead) and helps you imagine what it would be like living in that place, which is what I really want to do. 

Eating a great croissant or baguette in my new favourite bakery lets me feel more like a local, and helps me feel at home when I’m far away. I am happy in a great bakery, wherever I go. 

Seek out bakeries wherever you may be – Rose Bakery in Paris (the old store in the Marais which is no longer, with its curved front window and warm lights), Tartine in San Fransisco (yes, the pastries are most definitely worth lining up around the block for) and the teeny, tiny Söderberg & Sara in Malmo. If it’s squishy, all the better – remember those days when we could all squeeze in to some place great, together? What’s your favourite bakery – I’d love for you to share, maybe it can become someone else’s favourite bakery too. I hope we can all go out for a pastry together again, soon.

I have dreamt about creating that bakery magic myself which is why, I guess, I bake at home. When I’m feeling fanciful, I day-dream about opening that little bakery of my own and what it would look and feel like – warm lighting, close seats, pale pink tiles and french radio playing in the background; somewhere you could sit all day and feel cosy, kind of like being at home. 

If I ever do open a bakery, you would surely find this on the menu. For now, I hope you can enjoy it in your home and feel the some of those vibes of your favourite bakery, all while in your pyjamas.

The sourdough craze has been my kind of craze, I am all there for it. Happiness is a good oven spring! Pulling your own sourdough loaf out of the oven is the epitome of simple pleasures. Now I’ve found my rhythm with making sourdough, we can have amazing crusty bread at home at a *moments* (okay, two days) notice. I may not be able to go to Tartine for their bread right now (honestly, for me the trek is a long one at the best of times!) but luckily now I have learnt to make it at home. 

If you’re having a go at making your own sourdough too, I recommend checking out Jennifer Latham’s – head of bread at Tartine – videos. Watching her fold the dough, and seeing what it looks like when it’s fully proved, has turned my sourdough into something I would happily buy from a bakery – a life goal to say the least. I like the Tartine Breadwhole-wheat bread recipe for our every day loaves for the extra nuttiness and heft a whole-wheat loaf provides; their country loaf recipe is a classic staple and the basis for many of their loaves so it’s a really great place to start.

What do you do with all that delicious sourdough? Apart from devouring half the loaf with salted butter the same day it’s out of the oven, the following few days you can make delicious french toast in a snap, just like your own favourite bakery at home. Serve it with the best, and quickest, berry compote and your morning is complete. Oh, and don’t forget to pop on some french radio to complete the picture. 

Sourdough French Toast with the quickest and best berry compote.

Serves 1 (multiply the recipe for however many you need) + enough compote for the whole family.

150g frozen blueberries
150g frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons of xylitol (or sugar, or 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup)

1 slice of sourdough bread
1 egg, whisked together with 1 tablespoon of milk
a little vanilla paste or extract, if you’re feeling fancy
1 tablespoon olive oil
a couple of tablespoons of berry compote

For the compote – add the berries and sweetener into a medium sized saucepan. Cover and heat over medium heat until the berries have lost their chill – around 5 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the compote is deeply purple. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

For the french toast – whisk together the egg and milk (and perhaps a little vanilla) in a broad, shallow bowl – hopefully one big enough to comfortably accommodate your slice of bread. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for a few minutes each side, pressing it down gently with the back of a fork so it soaks up all the egg mixture.

Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until it just shimmers, then add the soaked sourdough to pan and reduce the heat to medium/low. Cook on one side for around 2 minutes, or until golden, before flipping and cooking for another 2 – 3 minutes on the other side.

Serve hot from the pan with some berry compote, a little natural yoghurt, or maple syrup and cinnamon if you wish.

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