We were met with an opportunity to experiment, and create a loaf with the addition of an unusual ingredient: mulled wine!
We combined Jacob Marley Mulled Wine with our sourdough starter, flour and spices, which resulted in wonderful sourdough bread which has been appreciated by Helen Creese.
Helen wrote in her blog:
"You haven't tried Sourdough bread until you've tried Aleksandra's, from Evendine Sourdough Bakery. Seriously, it is the most heavenly, delicious, baked creation on Planet Earth. Soft, light and fluffy beneath a perfect crust, we thought we'd found the Manna from Heaven when we first tried it....
..that is, until she baked us a Mulled Wine loaf, using our Jacob Marley Mulled Wine. By replacing the water in her usual recipe with Mulled Wine, and adding in a handful of cranberries, Aleksandra has taken bread-making to another level; elevating the standard sourdough to create a bread of such stunning sanctity - we are all now completely hooked and will never look at our Jacob in the same way again. Who knew he was hiding this divine doughy doppelgänger from us?!"(Creese, 2020. Available at: https://celtic-marches.myshopify.com/blogs/news/jacob-marley-mulled-wine-sourdough-bread-by-evendine-bakery)
Because of Jacob Marley Mulled Wine Sourdough Bread, we were able to share our story;
My mother held close a handful of memorable rituals to celebrate family and life. It wasn’t rare for our kitchen to smell of her wonderful cooking, or for our table to hold an abundance of baked goods every week. Myself and my brothers were very blessed growing up, as from a young age we had been taught the importance and value of honest food, and these memories are something I cherish daily.
When my mother fell ill, I stayed with my grandfather for some time, who has had the most profound influence on why I am a sourdough baker. As a child, I recall beautiful memories of following him around his small farm and seeing fields of growing grains, feeding the animals with these same grains and collecting honey from his beloved hives. I distinctly remember at a very young age twirling the honey through a centrifuge, and holding long conversations with the bees. I adored his kind temperament to living and farming, and his immense joy at the simplest of life’s pleasures.
My great grandparents were a family of traditional wind millers from central Poland, and my grandfather shared his knowledge and fascination of grain heritage often. His adored bread was sourdough rye 3 days after baking so the flavour has had time to mature. I think the hunger strikes that followed the wars had a profound impact on my family, and may be a large reason for why myself and my siblings had been taught the value of respect, and celebration for, food.
In this respect, baking has always been natural to me. After moving to the UK, there was a large sourdough hole in my heart, and I started baking the sourdough bread I grew up with for myself and my family. I’d share the love with friends and neighbours too.
One day, my daughter encouraged me to start baking for a living, and I jumped straight into creating Evendine Sourdough Bakery. I’ve been lucky to gather all of my joys in life into my bakery: locality, health, community, family and tradition. Essentially, my bakery is a huge amount of love and hard work, and the result of a life long collation of knowledge, conversion and exposure to the art of making bread.
My adoration of baking stems in its slow nature. To make good bread, mindfulness is key and rushing is forbidden. When I bake, I feel like a patient alchemist navigating these natural chemical processes, but what excites me is the uncertainty and to an extent the lack of control; although the same ingredients are used, the outcome in taste, structure and shape is unique with each bake.
The smallest change in the environment around the bakery can affect the baking. Mother nature is powerful and cannot be undermined in baking. I've grown to appreciate the unexpected and inconvenient overproving resulting from humidity levels changing the microbiology within the dough - it keeps me on my toes.
Just as the process itself is unpredictable, I adore the unexpected creativity that arises from baking. Gesturally marking the surface of the dough into intricate scoring patterns has been a delight, and these small abstractions keep a balance between structure and spontaneity. I experiment perpetually by tweaking the ingredients, trying, testing and experimenting playfully to see what could happen. My latest experiment has been the mulled wine sourdough.
We have a rather manic daily routine at the bakery. We have two small boys, Augustyn who is three and Edward who is about to turn one. I start by turning the ovens on at 3am, then sit and and enjoy the momentary peace with a coffee, then get on with preparing the packaging, labels and other bits and bobs. I’ll bake until 8am, in the meantime mixing dough for next morning's batch and getting the boys ready for the day. The bread is delivered at 8.30am, and I have 4 hours off.
I then start working with dough again until around 4pm, in the meantime answering emails, taking orders, working on website or social media, restocking etc.… During the day I have a tremendous amount of support from my husband, who takes charge of the logistics side of our business, and without whom I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.
When I’m not baking, I’m one of those sods who reads about it! I’m currently reading ‘History of Corn Milling’ by Richard Bennett, but my reading ranges from microbiology to history of food and everything in between.
My best advice to anyone who is interested in starting to bake, is to get a very good quality banneton, which is a naturally woven basket which the dough rests in during the fermentation process. What I recommend even more than the banneton, is to always bake with good intention, love and passion; if these things don’t motivate you, even the best equipment won’t work. Even on a bad day, practice and bake with your heart and love! I wish anyone who wishes to pursue sourdough, happy baking!"