interview with Elaine Boddy sourdough bread book author home baker social media influencer content creator based in the united kingdom

Interview With Elaine From @Elaine_Foodbod on Instagram

Welcome to The Sourdough People, your premier online marketplace and community hub for all things sourdough bread! Today, we are thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Elaine Boddy, a renowned sourdough baker and creative mind. Elaine shares her insights and experiences, diving deep into the simple joys and innovative techniques of sourdough baking. From her initial spark of interest kindled by a friend’s challenge to her master recipes that simplify the baking process, Elaine’s journey is a testament to the power of passion and simplicity in the kitchen. Be sure to follow her on Instagram at @elaine_foodbod to catch more of her daily sourdough adventures and tips. Now, let’s delve into the full interview and discover how Elaine’s approach to sourdough baking can inspire your culinary endeavours!

Elaine, what initially sparked your interest in sourdough baking, and how did you begin your journey?

I started a food blog in 2012, which I just happened to call ‘foodbod’, and in 2013 one of my blog friends, Selma, challenged me to try making sourdough bread. I’d never even heard of it, let alone tried any, but Selma was determined I should try making it, so I gave it a go, and the rest is history!

How has your approach to sourdough baking evolved since you first started?

Maybe not evolved so much as solidified; I’m a big believer in keeping things simple and accessible for the home baker. When I first started, my son was younger, I had a house to run and a family to look after, and I wanted to be able to make sourdough simply and have it work for my home and life so that’s what I did. And that’s the whole ethos of what I do now.

Do you have a signature sourdough recipe or technique you’re particularly proud of? Can you share a bit about it?

My master recipe, it is the basis of everything I do, it’s simple and straightforward, with no fuss or faff, no timers need to be set, and there’s no indoctrination. And it’s all made in the bowl, there’s no turning out the dough, there’s no flour all over the kitchen, no mess and no complication. And I love that. Why make a simple thing difficult? I also bake everything from a cold start which means I don’t preheat the oven or the pot, and it saves time, money, planning and prevents home bakers from getting burns from unnecessarily preheated hot pans.

Who are some of the people, brands, or companies in the sourdough industry that have inspired you?

What inspires me are home bakers, people at home, in their kitchens, around the world, giving it a go. That’s all I did, and now I can provide them with some guidance and tips to enjoy making sourdough. I see their sourdough starters come to life, and they bake their first loaves, and I see the joy and excitement; that’s all the inspiration I need.

What are your must-have tools or favourite equipment for sourdough baking, and why?

I love my falcon enamel roasters, I’ve had the same ones for over 10 years and they work perfectly. They’re lightweight and inexpensive and perfect for the job. I also love my bannetons, my lames, my jars, my bowls, they’re all special to me, they’re my tools but also my treasures. The only ‘must-have’ would be a room thermometer, it will simplify anyone’s sourdough making and take the guesswork out of proofing.

How do you source your ingredients, and do you have any specific preferences or tips regarding flour, water, or salt?

Always by testing and trying. I found Matthews Cotswold Flour on Amazon and bought some to use and liked it, and from there tried more of the range and got to know the business. They’re a family run mill which I love and the flours always work wonderfully. My tips would always be to try and use the best flour that you can, but if you can’t, make allowances for it. Use your tap water, it’s fine, and any table salt works perfectly. Don’t overthink things or overspend unnecessarily. Unless you want to. And keep in mind that ‘flour isn’t just flour’, it’s all different and behaves differently.

Can you share a particularly challenging experience you’ve had with sourdough baking and how you overcame it?

I wouldn’t say any of it has been challenging, it’s all been good learning, every single dough includes a lesson, but understanding the role that room temperature plays in sourdough making was a game changer. It’s a simple thing that can make a huge difference. Once I understood the effect that room temperature makes on dough making, and invested in a thermometer for my kitchen, it all fell into place. This is how I now know, and can advise others, that we can control our dough making, that we have full control of it all, because of all of the testing and experiments that I’ve been able to do in my kitchen.

What do you enjoy most about baking sourdough, and how does it impact your daily life?

I enjoy every step of the process, from feeding my starter, Star, to seeing a bowl full of beautiful fully proofed dough, to unveiling a baked loaf. It only impacts my life because it is my life as it’s my job, but in every other sense, the only impact is positive: my family gets to enjoy freshly baked homemade healthy bread.

How do you balance tradition and innovation in your sourdough baking practices?

I think that the fact that sourdough is the earliest form of known risen bread means it is packed full of tradition, every time we feed a starter or make dough we are steeped in tradition which I think everyone should celebrate and embrace. If there are modern tips that can help home bakers to enjoy the process, I’m all for that, the simplicity of an inexpensive room thermometer is a case in point, but that’s it for me. I’m not a believer in gadgets or unnecessary expenditure.

friendly hat-tip to James Kennedy for the exceptional photos.

Have you noticed any new trends or innovations in sourdough baking recently?

There’s always trends. And all are interesting to see, follow, and learn from.

What are some common misconceptions about sourdough baking that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

The biggest and most common misconception is that making sourdough is complicated, confusing, and time-consuming. There’s a lot of information out there that makes people think that’s the case. But it’s not true. I spend a lot of time letting new bakers know that sourdough can be made simply, and without fuss, or hassle. The best tip I always have is: stop reading too much. Choose a single source to learn from and stick with it whilst you learn. And if you have questions, ask the originator/author for help. No one else. And don’t post questions in huge Facebook groups, you’ll get flooded with well-intentioned advice that will only be overwhelming and more confusing. Keep it simple whilst you learn, then once you’ve got the basics, experiment, play and have fun with it.

In your opinion, what is the most underrated aspect of sourdough baking?

The pure simplicity of it. And the fact that we are in complete control of every step.

Tell us about your published books Elaine, what are they each about?

I currently have 3 published books. My first book was Whole Grain Sourdough at Home, which introduces bakers to whole grain and ancient grain flours. It discusses the characteristics of the flours and how to use them in starters, and how to start introducing them into doughs and loaves. My second book was The Sourdough Whisperer in which I aim to hold the hand of any baker and guide them through everything they need to know to make simple successful sourdough. I provide answers to every question a home baker may have, as well as providing a range of recipes. My third book was Easy Everyday Sourdough Baking which is all recipes, lots of creative tasty recipes, all made using a sourdough starter. And my fourth book, The Sourdough Bible, will be published at the end of 2024.

Are there any other books, videos, or online resources you’d recommend to those wanting to learn more about sourdough baking?

My YouTube channel.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with sourdough baking?

As above: choose a single source of information, guidance, and recipes, and stick with it. Don’t read too much. Don’t fall down rabbit holes. And don’t overthink it, it’s just bread. It’s fun and you can do it!

How do you engage with your followers and the sourdough community on social media? What’s your style?

I answer every single question, comment, message, and email that I can, I don’t leave anyone hanging. I’d hate to think of anyone being stressed or worried about their starter or their dough in their kitchen somewhere else in the world. No one needs to be stressing or getting upset about sourdough, so if I can alleviate any worries or fears, that’s what I do.

What’s your favourite sourdough recipe to bake for yourself, friends, or your loved ones?

That’s absolutely impossible to answer, every time I think I’ve found a new favourite, I create something new and that takes over! Or I go back to an old recipe and remember how much I loved it. I’ve got too many much-loved recipes to choose from.

Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to manage a healthy sourdough starter culture?

Make many notes. And get to know your sourdough starter culture. Each time you use it, note down the time you feed it, the room temp, the flour and the water. Then make a note of when it’s ready to use and what the consistency is like. Do this across a year as much as possible to cover all of the seasons. This way you’ll create a complete reference of your starter and how it behaves, and you’ll never have any guesswork. And don’t use ratios for feeding, it’s not necessary. Keep a small base amount (50-80g) and feed that whole base amount based on what you need it to produce for your dough. That way there’s no unnecessary portioning out of bits of starter and never any waste.

Do you have any upcoming projects or plans related to sourdough baking that you’re excited about?

Lots! But especially my new book, I’m very excited about it: The Sourdough Bible.

What do you hope to contribute or be remembered for most in the sourdough community?

I hope that people remember me as being helpful and keeping things simple.

Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly proud or fulfilled in your sourdough baking journey?

Every single time someone messages me full of joy and excitement that their new starter has grown, or they’ve baked their first loaf, that makes me endlessly proud. That’s all it’s about, making other people happy and seeing their joy of their achievements.

If you could give one piece of advice to your past self when you started sourdough baking, what would it be?

Do exactly as you did the first time round! I learned in my own kitchen through trial and error, and it was ideal (and fun).

Is there anything else Elaine that you would like the community to know about you or things you would like the readers to potentially purchase or subscribe to?

Check out my existing books and pre-order my new book. I’m mega excited to announce that I have another book coming out at the end of this year and this one is bigger than any of the others! It’s a hardback beauty, packed with info, more tips than ever before, with 77 recipes, including 11 master recipes, 7 discard recipes and a huge amount of my usual creativity! Perfect for the beginner, returner and experienced bakers. Everyone is covered. I have pushed myself like never before with this book, because, if you’re going to call something a Bible it really needs to be good doesn’t it? So I hope you all approve and that it will be worth the wait.

Closing thoughts

We sincerely thank Elaine for taking the time to share her valuable insights and experiences with us. Her passion for making sourdough accessible and enjoyable shines through every word. For those inspired by Elaine, be sure to follow her on Instagram at @elaine_foodbod to stay updated on her latest baking tips and creations.

We also invite you to follow The Sourdough People on Instagram, where we continue to explore the delicious crusty and tangy world of sourdough, with enthusiasts like you. If you have interesting stories or topics you’d like us to feature on our sourdough blog, please use our intake form to send them in. Additionally, consider joining our email newsletter for timely updates and more engaging content from the world of sourdough.

Thank you for reading, and happy baking!

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