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Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained

Andra Stefanescu (Sourdough Explained)

We've followed Andra Stefanescu a.k.a. Sourdough Explained for some time now and have always been massively impressed with not only the way that she creates beautiful baked products time after time but also the incredible talent she has for teaching and inspiring others to dive head first into the wonderful world of sourdough. 

Ratton Pantry Partners are select bakers, cooks and pizzaiolos that we work closely with to create unique and relevant content, ultimately enriching our community. We're very proud to announce Andra as a Ratton Pantry Partner and are excited for the great content that we'll be creating together moving forward.

Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained
Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained

"My love for bread was inspired early on by my Romanian grandmother"


My love for bread started very early, when I was about 3 years old. Back then I was living with my grandmother, in a small village in the Romanian countryside. As a toddler I spent many mornings with her at her little bread stall, right next to the steamy loaves. It’s one of the few memories still very vivid.

Spending most of my childhood in the countryside, taught me the importance of homegrown and homemade food. Back then, organic food was the norm, now it’s a luxury for which we have to pay the price.

And since bread has always been such an important part of my diet, I wanted to give real bread a chance. And have 100% control over what goes in it.

I’ve been making my own bread for something like 10 years now, initially using commercial yeast and one of those bread makers, before discovering sourdough.


First of all because to me sourdough is pure magic.

It’s amazing how, with just 3 ingredients, water, flour and salt, you can make great bread at home. 

It’s delicious and it is said to be more filling, so you end up eating less bread overall.

It has a lower glycemic index. 

It helps with digestibility and reduces bloating.

Making sourdough bread is therapeutic, often the break we need from the world.

Homemade bread is no doubt the best option out there, and this is because we have 100% over the flour that we use. In the UK we’re very lucky to have access to great flour, in the end the decision on what we buy is entirely ours. 

Sourdough is just flour and water, and the quality of the flour we use makes all the difference. In flavour, in nutritional content. It impacts our health, as everything else we eat.

That’s why I carefully make choices when it comes to the flour I buy.

Making our own bread is just the first step, using great quality flour is the next one.

"It takes time to make a loaf of bread, something we’re not used to anymore."

My sourdough journey started by chance, in October 2019, when I was given some sourdough starter. It happened that my friend was baking a sourdough loaf when I went to see her, and I couldn’t believe that you can make such a great loaf of bread at home. That was for me the AHA moment, when I promised that I’ll give it a try myself.

More than 4 years later and I don’t know how many loaves, here I am, still making sourdough bread with every occasion I have. But also trying to inspire and help others starting their own sourdough journey.

If you would have told me that I will still be making bread today, I would have said that you’re a fool. But the truth is that it’s addictive. Once you start making great bread at home, the majority of the options out there will be disappointing.

Making sourdough bread taught me to be patient again. It takes time to make a loaf of bread, something we’re not used to anymore, when everything nowadays is at a click of a button.

It taught me that the greatest gift is a loaf of bread. Everyone is so happy to get a fresh loaf.

Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained


Lots of planning and preparation went into it, even my husband has helped, it was an exciting project.

Despite all this, my first loaf was far from what I was hoping for or what I was imagining. 

There is no one size fits all when it comes to sourdough. A recipe is there to be used as guidance, more than anything else. If you can use the very same flour and you have similar conditions, room temperature to be more specific, then the chances for success are higher.

The moment you change the flour, or the room temperature is different, everything goes out of the window. And little I knew at that time about this

So my first loaf was far from great. It was hard as a brick, and hasn't risen much. It was dense. It was edible, but not more than that. This only motivated me to make it again, the second time was a success.

Looking back at it, I had no clue what I was doing, other than following a recipe & a schedule. I had no idea how the dough should look or feel. I didn’t know how to read the dough and when it was ready for shaping or for baking. I didn’t know all of this, and no one can know it from the first attempt.

Like with everything else, it takes time to learn, but moreover practice. Practice, failures and successes, this is what helps us learn and evolve.

Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained
Ratton Pantry Partner Andra Stefanescu @sourdough_explained


It all went uphill from there, but it took a while. And this is because I was determined to master it.

I was not only improving my bread with every bake, but I was also buying more tools and accessories for baking.

I bought my first dutch oven, as I struggled to create enough steam and get the much sought after ‘ear’ in a normal domestic oven. And you will learn that a dutch oven helps seal in the steam released by the bread.

Next, I bought a stand mixer and moved away from making the dough by hand. Mixing by hand is the way to go at the beginning, but as I was baking more and more I soon realised there was lots of dough going down the kitchen drain when washing my hands. Plus, I wanted to be able to make other stuff than bread.

I’ve started baking more and more, the pandemic would have started as well by then and I was baking for friends, colleagues, delivering to their doors.

I was experimenting with different flours, different hydration rates, different timings. 

In June 2020 I decided to start sharing my baking journey, my experiences and my learnings on  social media  , and this is how Sourdough Explained came to life, a project close to my soul and now my full time job.


Other than connecting with people via my social media account, and replying to hundreds of messages & questions every month, more than a year ago I launched a couple of e-guides, the virtual Sourdough Bread Masterclass, the One to one coaching sessions. All these available on, alongside useful articles.

Once a month I organise a 6h workshop in my kitchen in London. Which is great fun, I promise you.

Everything is aimed to offer support to those looking to start their sourdough journey, or to those who have been baking for a while but looking to improve their bakes. 

There’s nothing I enjoy more than connecting to people, and Sourdough Explained is my small contribution to making sourdough bread more accessible.


Few things I’d mention here

1/ If you can, start with an established starter which you can take from a bakery or from someone you know, rather than building one from scratch. While it sounds like an exciting project and easy task, making your own sourdough starter may sometimes feel like a roller coaster. The process is not as straightforward as other processes, since you rely on factors like flour, temperature, overall environment

2/ Be patient and manage expectations. Making great sourdough bread at home is totally achievable, but it may take time and practice, like developing any other skill

3/ When following a recipe, make sure you use the same flour as indicated. Every flour behaves differently and you can easily end up with a dough that’s difficult to handle. And disappointing results


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