Learning how to bake bread using a sourdough starter; starter included.
My name is Beryl Forman, a local urbanist who makes a mean olive bread. Nearly 15 years ago, I purchased the La Brea Bakery cookbook on Adams Avenue, went straight to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients and immediately noticed that there was no mention of yeast in the recipe. Then I asked myself, what is a white starter? I flipped to the introduction, and learned that white starter is a natural yeast, a valuable component of bread making that families have passed along from one generation to another throughout history. I felt up to the challenge, and step by step connected to the science of natural bread making. Two weeks later, the starter was ready, so I decided to make two of my favorite loaves, an olive bread and a challah. The good news was that my olive bread turned out great, and the challah, not so much. As to not disrespect and possibly kill my starter, I developed a routine of baking two loaves of olive bread every other weekend. Baking bread makes me feel more domestically aligned, and with such positive reception, it is a pleasure to share it with others over Sunday brunch and gift it to friends and family. During this pandemic, I decided to turn this hobby of mine into a little side business, selling weekly loaves of olive bread every Wednesday, locally sourced extra virgin olive oil from Baja, homemade chimichurri, marinated olives, course salt, my sourdough starter, and have hosted virtual bread baking workshops. The best way to enjoy this olive bread is to dip it into olive oil and salt, plain and simple, because if you are going to eat great bread, you have to have great olive oil. More recently, my husband and I have been exploring local olive farms that produce olive oil throughout Southern California and Baja. Recognizing the quality, freshness and accessibility to an ingredient that is so valuable in the culinary world has inspired me to share my bread with others as a platform for highlighting this local production, and of course, break bread with more and more wonderful people. Bread and olive oil have always been an essential source of the human’s diet, and act as a reminder that through the enjoyment of naturally baked bread and locally produced olive oil, we are investing in life’s simple pleasures.