Country Living Magazine Winner - Alex Gooch
Alex Gooch’s love affair with bread began when he was head chef at Penrhos Court in Herefordshire. In keeping with the ethos of this organic country-house hotel, he made every loaf from scratch and soon became addicted to the craft of baking real bread using wild yeasts and slow fermentation. He credits Penrhos founder and green nutritionist Daphne Lambert with triggering his obsession. “she was so generous in terms of letting me experiment – whenever she walked into the kitchen I’d have eight different breads on the go”.
Alex’s artisan breads, including the organic apple and pumpkin seed rye sourdough loaf that earned him a place among our winners are made using leavens, or starters, instead of baker’s yeast. “ I made my first starter at Penrhos and I’m still using it today – it’s three and a half years old,” Alex says. “It’s just rye flour and water, left to ferment. As wild yeasts feed on the sugars in the grain and they release carbon dioxide and build up acidity.