Changes to Britain’s Best Loaf sourdough category

This year I took the decision to split what was previously a single ‘Sourdough’ category into two for the 2019 Britain’s Best Loaf competition, writes British Baker editor Vince Bamford:

  • Traditional Sourdough’ (made 100% by fermentation using naturally occurring lactobacillus and the capture of wild yeasts through a starter dough)
  • ‘Sourdough’ (bread produced by the addition of cultivated yeast and/or the addition of a commercial sourdough product).

A key reason for this was to separate and recognise sourdoughs produced using only a live starter culture from those produced using other ingredients such as yeasts and concentrates.

It is a decision that some bakers clearly disagree with.

Some feel the word ‘sourdough’ should only apply to products made from a live starter culture.

Others have suggested the competition is sidelining breads produced from a starter culture in favour of those using cultivated yeasts or commercial sourdough products.

While this was in no way my intention, the concerns of bakers and the Real Bread Campaign have prompted me to look again at the sourdough category and the type of product that made up the majority of sourdough entries in previous Britain’s Best Loaf competitions.

As a result, I have taken the decision to revert to the previous format of a single Sourdough category, open only to breads made 100% by fermentation using naturally occurring lactobacillus and the capture of wild yeasts through a starter dough.

The competition website (britainsbestloaf.co.uk) and online entry system has been updated with this change, and I look forward to judging your entries in April.

Going forward, I want the Britain’s Best Loaf to be as true a reflection as possible of the UK bread market and will again be consulting with individuals, businesses and organisations across the industry to see how this could best be achieved for the 2020 event.

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