John Dough Sourdough

‘John Dough’ is a Partnership Sealed in Sourdough

Chef Edward Bugia reveals his latest food venture with Chef Angelo Santos, where everything they bake is rooted in sourdough.

This pandemic, the sourdough bread soared. The humble fermented carb suddenly was the choice bread to order and enjoy at home, and if you are patient, caring, and up to the task, the bread to bake in your own kitchen. “Sourdough isn’t something you learn overnight,” shares Chef Edward Bugia. “It’s constant trial and error and at the same time developing and maturing you starter.”

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I’ve known the chef practically since I started food writing (over a decade ago if we’re counting), and have seen his love affair with sourdough grow. We’ve occasionally been taste testers of an assortment of his sourdough trial runs (it’s fun to play guinea pig). So it was about time that he offers the breads to a bigger market. In his latest food venture, John Dough, the chef reveals his partnership with Chef Angelo Santos. Santos was formerly based in Europe, plying his trade in Spain and Estonia. Now he is back home in the Philippines and baking in Manila. For these two chefs, sourdough isn’t just a quarantine fixation, but a product they are completely passionate about.

John Dough's Sourdough Batard
John Dough’s Sourdough Batard (P160/540g)

When asked on what the biggest challenge is with sourdough, Chef Angelo shares that it is developing both techniques and understanding the intricacies of the sourdough starter. “Since the sourdough starter itself is the basis of the sourdough methodology, it was important to understand how to make the sourdough starter super healthy,” he explains. Making and taking care of a strong and healthy starter is not an easy feat — you’re basically taking care of something very much alive and need to feed.

“It’s the living core of the whole concept so you have to make it as healthy and powerful as you possibly can,” the chef adds. “It makes the making and baking of the sourdough breads themselves a lot easier once you fully understand your sourdough starter.” Chef Ed also emphasizes on the starter, as everything starts from there. “Timing is also everything. There comes a point where you have to stop checking your resources and trust your gut. Feel if you starter is ready to make good bread.”

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Sourdough Sandwich Loaf (P170)

In making better breads with sourdough, Chef Ed found a mentor in Angelo. “I don’t believe I’ve made perfect bread yet,” he says. “One of my mentors throughout this process was Chef Angelo that’s why it only came natural for me to partner with him in this endeavor. He approaches bread-making with such enthusiasm and nerdy science that it keeps me assured our products will come out great every single time.”

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For Angelo, there was a lot of self study and research involved. “The mentors or resources I had started in Instagram, then I dived in deeper reading books regarding sourdough baking. I took on the Sourdough School by Vanessa Kimbell, Open Crumb Mastery by Trevor J. Wilson, Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.”

Sourdough Pan de Sal (P120/dozen)

So what can you look forward to in every John Dough sourdough bread? With the two chefs’ keen focus on the starter, you can expect good flavors coming out of their kitchen. “I try to have as much good oven spring, a nice aesthetic, and good balance of sourdough flavors to the overall bakes that I produce,” Angelo says. “I guess you could say that the answer is in the crumb.”

John Dough bakes and delivers their sourdough breads in limited batches three times a week. Cutoff for orders is every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 4pm for baking (with delivery the following day). Advanced orders is recommended via Instagram.

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