News / Ottawa

Sourdough rises in popularity with docu-series attention

Ottawa baker attributes the recent popularity in sourdough bread to the Netflix docu-series Cooked.

Sourdough bread is on the rise, and an Ottawa bakery is rising with it.

Andy Lofthouse, owner and operator of Purebread bakery near Centretown, specializes in baking sourdough bread. He’s seen a rise in sales and interest surrounding sourdough bread, which appears in the popular Netflix docu-series Cooked.

The series, based on acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, explores the fire, water, air and earth elements – along with their relation to cooking – and how they've developed and shaped humanity’s history.

The “air” episode discusses bread in different forms and cultures, and features Pollan baking home-made sourdough. Lofthouse says he “can think of no single other thing that’s made this kind of impact” on interest in the bread.

Since the docu-series began airing, Lofthouse has also seen an increase of customers wanting to bake the bread themselves. He attributes this revival of interest to people wanting to return to traditional food-making methods.

“It’s the simplicity, the hands on nature of it, and that people feel they’re doing something that’s linking them to the natural world,” he says.

Sourdough bread begins with a starter, which is a yeast culture that forms from flour and water. It is then combined with water, flour and salt into a dough, and baked. It has many health benefits since it’s not processed, and is naturally low-gluten.

When he moved from London to Ottawa three years ago, Lofthouse smuggled his starter-culture over from England – it had proved so successful that he didn't want to start another.

He says his attachment to the starter is normal, and that many people even name their starters. This is all a part of the personal nature of traditional bread-making methods.

He’s even tried some of his customers’ creations, to mixed results.

“The results don’t matter – the people are a part of the process, and that’s what matters,” he says.

“Each loaf is a slight variation, and I never get bored of that.”

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