Welcome to another inspiring feature on The Sourdough People, your go-to source for all things sourdough bread! Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Linda Atkinson, a local sourdough bread influencer from Vancouver British Columbia Canada, who has captured the hearts of many with her unique and creative approach to sourdough baking. Linda, known on Instagram as @linda__atkinson, is not just a baker; she’s a storyteller and an artist, transforming simple ingredients into exquisite sourdough masterpieces. With a background in foods and nutrition and a deep-rooted passion for teaching, Linda’s journey in the world of sourdough is both inspiring and educational. As you delve into this interview, we encourage you to follow Linda on Instagram to witness her sourdough adventures and gain valuable insights into the art of sourdough baking.
Can you tell us about your background and yourself?
I have consistently harbored a keen interest in Food Science. I pursued a degree in Foods and Nutrition, earning a BHEc from UBC Vancouver, along with a teaching certificate. Subsequently, I dedicated 33 years to teaching at a high school. Concurrently, I furthered my education, completing a Master’s degree, as I am undeniably committed to lifelong learning.
What led you to embark on the journey with @linda__atkinson on Instagram and sourdough bread making?
I love inspiring people to make nutritious and healthy foods and love teaching yeast bread baking classes. I had retired and a friend told me about a sourdough online course offered by Shannon @sourdoughschoolhouse during the pandemic. I was instantly hooked and have been obsessed with it ever since!!
Could you share with us the story of your evolution in the world of sourdough bread from the start to where you stand now?
My daughter, Kelsey @parentinglittleones suggested and set up an IG account for me so I could track my sourdough journey.
Can you provide a snapshot of a typical day in your bread-making world?
I enjoy trying different flours and including various ingredients like seeds, fruits, veggies, and natural colours into my doughs. I love to score designs into black cocoa dusted dough, regular white dusted dough, make seeded designs, and even balloon painting with natural colours on the dough. I also love incorporating nature eg, leaves and flowers into my designs, as well as using regular household items like coffee maker parts to inspire design ideas.
What aspects of sourdough bread and its culture captivate you the most?
I love each part of the sourdough process, from making and keeping my starter, Violet, healthy and happy. (btw I named her after my darling mom) to working with the dough, and then using beautiful 75-year-old doilies that my mom and granny crocheted so many years ago, for designs on some of my bakes. Mom was pleased to see her doilies had another, more current function and that when I used her favourite doily design on my sourdough, it had over 39 million IG views
What makes sourdough distinct for you compared to other bread types?
Sourdough stands out among various bread types for its distinct nutritional advantages. Its uniqueness lies in the simplicity of its composition, requiring only three essential ingredients: flour, water, and salt. This minimalistic approach not only makes it a healthier option but also contributes to a more natural and wholesome product. The sourdough fermentation process involves the cultivation of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, resulting in a bread with a unique tangy flavor and improved digestibility. With an emphasis on fewer ingredients and a focus on natural processes, sourdough embodies a nutritious and wholesome choice, aligning with a preference for healthier bread options. My son also has gluten intolerance so it was perfect to be able to make bread that he could eat.
Could you discuss any significant obstacles you’ve navigated in your journey with sourdough bread?
None really because I have worked with dough a lot and taught bread classes. Too many people overthink it – along those lines. It’s all practice. Normally the issues are mostly too hot or too cold.
What are your go-to products or tools that play a crucial role in your bread-making process?
Nothing has to be purchased specifically for sourdough making. You can make your own starter with just flour and water, care for it, learn the process of making sourdough, then run with your imagination.
Any favorite brands that align with your preferences?
I love my bread mat @thebreadmat, my oval and round wood pulp bannetons @rosehillsourdough, my oven gloves @lanongloves and my UFO lame @wiremonkeyshop. Followers can use my code to receive a discount and all my proceeds are donated to my favourite charity @mamasformamas.
Could you shed light on any individuals who have significantly influenced or inspired your bread-making journey?
There are so many nice people that I have met that it’s hard to single just a few out as everyone has been so nice. The whole community has been so nice and so kind.
Are there any prominent communities or events that have caught your attention? What pieces of advice would you offer to individuals embarking on their own sourdough bread-making path?
The community I am most involved in is Instagram and my own local community. The piece of advice I would share with beginning bakers is to be patient with yourself, we’ve all started at the same place and it takes practice, practice, practice and then you are rewarded with delicious, lovingly made breads to enjoy!!!
What exciting developments can we anticipate from @linda__atkinson in the future? Are there particular projects or paths you’re eager to explore?
I have a new Miele steam oven so would like to work more experimenting with it using the steam in an open bake. I would also like to volunteer to teach sourdough classes in a community centre.
Are you looking forward to experimenting with any emerging bread-making techniques or trends?
Absolutely! I’m always eager to explore new trends and techniques in bread making. The world of sourdough and artisanal bread is constantly evolving, and there are always innovative approaches to try. Whether it’s experimenting with different types of flour, incorporating unique ingredients for flavor and texture, or testing new fermentation methods, I’m all in. I’m particularly interested in exploring the integration of ancient grains and alternative flours, as they offer both health benefits and distinct flavors. Additionally, I’m keen to experiment with various scoring techniques and artistic designs on bread, which not only enhance the visual appeal but also allow me to express my creativity in baking. Keeping up with these trends not only fuels my passion but also enables me to share fresh and exciting content with my followers.
How do you keep the momentum of learning and improving in your craft?
My husband and I share a deep-seated passion for exploration, with travel being a cherished avenue for us to immerse ourselves in diverse cultures. One of the most enriching aspects of our journeys is the opportunity to delve into local culinary traditions. Our affinity for culinary exploration has led us to engage in immersive cooking classes, allowing us to grasp the intricacies of various cuisines.
Over the past two decades, we have conscientiously embraced a plant-based (vegan/vegetarian) lifestyle. This commitment has not only shaped our dietary choices but has also become a cornerstone of our culinary adventures. Drawing from our extensive experience, I take delight in the creative challenge of veganizing recipes, transforming them into delectable plant-based alternatives.
In sharing these adaptations with my followers, I aim to foster a sense of culinary inclusivity, demonstrating that plant-based options can be both flavorful and diverse. This endeavor not only aligns with our long-standing commitment to a compassionate lifestyle but also serves as a constant source of inspiration, propelling us to continuously refine our culinary skills and share the joys of plant-based living with an ever-expanding audience.
Any particular resources or networks you frequently turn to?
The sourdough bread-making community has been an incredible resource. The people I have met online are so helpful, willing to share and push me out of my comfort zone with bread challenges and new recipes to try. I am constantly inspired by them.
Do you envision engaging in collaborations or expanding your role in the bread-making community, perhaps in a teaching or mentorship capacity?
Certainly! I am eager to collaborate with and support aspiring sourdough bakers by addressing their questions and concerns. My online content is dedicated to sharing comprehensive recipes and detailing the various steps in bread-making, reflecting my inherent teaching nature. I derive satisfaction from guiding my followers towards success in their baking endeavors.
Moreover, I am open to expanding my involvement in the bread-making community. In addition to my online presence, I am considering taking on a more hands-on role by volunteering to teach sourdough classes at a local community center. This would allow me to share my passion for baking in a more interactive and direct manner, fostering a sense of community and skill development among enthusiasts. I’m excited about the prospect of contributing to the learning and growth of individuals interested in the art of sourdough.
Looking back at your sourdough journey, is there a highlight or achievement that holds a special place for you?
I just love sharing my breads with family, friends and neighbours who are always happy to receive the bakes and sharing my joy of baking with my online community.
As we conclude, is there any additional information or insights you’d like to share with the community about you or your sourdough bread journey?
Absolutely! I’d love to share more about my sourdough bread journey and how you can connect with me. Instagram has been the primary platform where I share my experiences, tips, and the joy of baking sourdough. You can find me there, and I’m always thrilled to connect with fellow bakers and sourdough enthusiasts.
One aspect I particularly enjoy is receiving direct messages from the community. Being a teacher at heart, I find immense satisfaction in helping others navigate the intricacies of baking sourdough. Whether it’s troubleshooting a specific issue, clarifying a technique, or offering personalized advice, I’m here to assist. The exchange of knowledge and the sense of community that flourishes in those direct messages truly excites me.
Feel free to reach out with your questions or share your own sourdough experiences. I believe in the power of shared learning, and together, we can make the sourdough baking journey even more enjoyable and rewarding. Happy baking!
We hope you found Linda’s journey in the world of sourdough as fascinating and inspiring as we did. Remember, the world of sourdough is vast and full of wonders, and we at The Sourdough People are here to explore it with you. Don’t forget to follow our journey on Instagram @sourdoughbread.ca, where we share exciting sourdough stories, tips, and much more. Also, consider subscribing to our email newsletter for exclusive content and updates straight to your inbox. Lastly, we’re always on the lookout for compelling sourdough stories, innovative brands, or remarkable individuals to feature. If you have a story to tell, a brand to rave about, or someone in mind who’s making waves in the sourdough world, please use our intake form to let us know. Your suggestions and contributions help us create a more vibrant and diverse sourdough community. Thanks for reading, and happy baking!